Honor C. Appleton Biography
She started her illustrating career as a student of the South Kensington Schools, Frank Calderon’s School of Animal Painting, and the Royal Academy Schools.
Honor Charlotte Appleton was born in Brighton, England, on 4th February 1879.
She started her illustrating career as a student of the South Kensington Schools, Frank Calderon’s School of Animal Painting, and the Royal Academy Schools. After this thorough and dedicated early study, Appleton went on to develop a distinctive and delicate watercolour style. At the end of her first year at the Royal Academy, she published her first book of illustrations, The Bad Mrs Ginger (1902).
Influenced by contemporary illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, Heath Robinson, Kate Greenaway and Jessie Willcox Smith, Appleton illustrated over one-hundred-and-fifty books during the course of her career. The best-known of her early illustrations were for the ‘Josephine’ series (books concerning a ‘family of dolls’ and their exploits). These were beautiful and childlike images, set to texts by ‘Mrs H. C. Cradock’ (1863 – 1941). Appleton’s first ‘big break’ in the world of illustration came with her drawings for William Blake’s Songs of Innocence (1910), which cemented her reputation as a first class illustrator.
As the 1930s and 1940s progressed, Appleton moved away from nursery subjects, so that she could focus more of her attentions on literary classics. She largely worked for ‘George G. Harrap and Company’ (a now defunct publisher of specialty books, based in London and Bombay) during this time.
Appleton loved the south of England however, and stayed close to Brighton all her life. She spent most of her adult life in Hove, a town just outside of the city. Never a fan of travel, Appleton only left on business.
Appleton died on 31st December 1951. By this point her work was so well-known, and much-loved, that she was the subject of a memorial show held at the Hove Public Library, the following year. Her watercolours were also exhibited at the ‘Royal Academy’ during her lifetime.