Ada Dennis (1862-1900)
Ada Dennis was a talented illustrator, who worked as a pottery designer for Doulton & Co, and specialised in scenes of children.
Ada Dennis was born in Walworth, South London, the fourth of seven children of the clerk, Thomas Robert Dennis, and his wife, Amelia (née Milner). By 1871, the family was living at 17 Sutherland Square, while by 1881 – following the death of Thomas – it had moved to 100 Dalyell Road, Brixton.
By 1881, Ada Dennis was working as an ‘Engraver on Pottery’ at Henry Doulton’s Lambeth Pottery. She designed for Faience, Carrara and Marqueterie wares, specialising increasingly in images of children that showed the influence of Kate Greenaway. In 1889, the Society of Arts awarded her with a first prize of £10 in decoration. By the time of the Census of 1891, when she was still living with her family at Dalyell Road, she was describing herself as a ‘Ceramic Artist’, while her younger sister, Florence, was a ‘Ceramic Art Assistant’. Between 1891 and 1894, Ada exhibited works at the Royal Society of British Artists.
In 1893, Ada Dennis married Walter Gandy, who also worked at Doulton & Co, initially as a clerk, and later as a ‘Designer for Pottery’. Once they had settled at 34 Loughborough Road, Brixton, Ada turned to illustration, and contributed to a number of children’s books published by Ernest Nister. She died in Lambeth on 5 January 1900. Walter rose to become a manager in architectural pottery for Doulton, and also studied music under Gustav Holst at Morley College, living on until 1939.
Ada Dennis (Mrs Gandy) is not to be confused with the painter, Ada L Dennis ROI (who was born in Chester in 1873, and exhibited until 1934).