Saturday, 7 December 2013

Raymond Sheppard and The Station Repertory Theatre

I killed the Count

Some coincidences are too strange to believe. At the same time that Frank Setchfield was selling some posters on eBay, I became aware of two posters claiming to be by Raymond Sheppard on the Flickr set of Manuel Palomino Arjona. I wrote to the latter but got no reply. However Frank told me the following:

Hi Norman
These posters came from a book dealer friend who acquired them in an auction-they can be traced to author Carol Brooke who was married to actor Herbert Ramskill. Herbert Ramskill acted/produced the plays I would guess as part of the war effort but not necessarily as part of ENSA. I could not trace the ''station theatre'' but believe it to be RAF as I had about 8 posters only one was signed by Raymond Sheppard but it would be fairly safe to assume at least some of the rest were his work. It was frustrating to try and discover the exact provenance but there was a clue on one poster which was just simple lettering and includes the wording 'by kind permission of Group Capt J A Elliot'
Regards Frank

Now, I suspect, like Frank, that some of the following have Sheppard influences and the one that is signed is a surprise to me as it has no attributes that I find familiar. I have commented below

We know approximately that Raymond Sheppard was re-assigned from "Wireless Operator" training to "Aircrafthand General Duties" in December 1942 due to his health problems so it is not unlikely he used his artistic talents in a supportive role such as this. He was posted to Yatesbury around this time, but we're not certain when. If only we knew where he was stationed precisely at this time!

As you'll see below Sheppard produced more than one poster for some productions and Christine Sheppard kindly sent me this alternative version of "I killed the Count"

I killed the Count - in pastel

The poster for "White Cargo" has the look of Sheppard's work and the figure fits in with - what we later, in 1942, -  got to know as Hedy Lamarr's character in the film of the same name.  When rolled up we see "HQ Cookhouse" inscribed in pencil

8th Nov is a Sunday in 1942
(S?) HQ Cookhouse

Same dates on this poster as above

The second play "He walked in her sleep" has several representations in poster form just like the above. The play looked to be by Norman Cannon and created in 1929.  - and we can clearly see multiple versions of "coming soon" announcements as well as dated posters. From the days corresponding with dates I surmise that the first play here is 1942 and the later ones mentioned here are 1943. One would think with paper rationing this wouldn't happen, but as Frank described in his eBay sale these are "original paint work on plane paper measuring approx 15" x 20" - on black sugar paper"

"Coming soon"
"Coming soon"
"Coming soon"

Monday January 18  was in 1943

See above
Next is the poster (illustrated above - the only one where a Sheppard signature is clear) of "I killed the Count" a 1937 play in which "The dilemma isn't that the Detective is suffering from a lack of witnesses. In fact, four different people come forth to confess to the killing - each of them with plenty of motive and opportunity."

Lastly we can see "The Shining Hour" a 1934 play the setting of which is apparently "a living room in an Elizabethan farmhouse in Yorkshire".  This art looks very similar in execution to Sheppard's artwork in some of his children's books.

The Shining Hour

The last poster that Frank kindly shared with me is this wordy billboard, and the dates again  appear to match 1943. Here we can see the Ramskill name mentioned by Frank previously. Early viewers of the Emmerdale soap might remember him as Wally Lumm. A programme guide appears here listing his credits which in my opinion appears a bit scant as I feel he was one of those actors I remember from my childhood appearing all over the place. Carol Brooke was the pseudonym of Patricia Robinson, or Patricia Ramskill who was widowed in 1977 and died herself earlier this year, the author of many romance novels. This poster advertises the 1935 play "While parents sleep".

If we are right in thinking Sheppard was posted to 76th Squadron RAF in June 1943 (who were in RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor in June 1943), it's likely he missed this last production.

Sunday July 4 = 1943

Monday, 11 November 2013

Raymond Sheppard and The No Name Deer by J. W. Lippincott

Wikipedia tells us that the author of "The Phantom Deer" (or "The No Name Deer" as this UK edition is titled) is the father, Joseph Wharton Lippincott (February 28, 1887– October 22, 1976) who amongst other things founded, in 1937 the Joseph W. Lippincott Award for Outstanding Librarianship, which continues to be awarded by the American Library Association each year. His son Joseph Wharton Jr. was also a supporter of libraries in his time as head of the company his family founded "J. B. Lippincott & Co." which eventually merged with what we know as HarperCollins

The engraved cover

A proof of the dustjacket

The No Name Deer illustrated by Raymond Sheppard was published in the UK by Macmillan & Co., in 1956. The picture of the proof copy belongs to Christine Sheppard and is the only copy of the dustjacket I have ever come across. My copy of the book is that illustrated above (with no dustjacket)
The dog stood on his hind legs to sniff at the little deer in Jack's arms

Lippincott wrote quite a few books about nature and animals - these are the ones I have found:
  • Bun: a Wild Rabbit (1918)
  • Red Ben the Fox of Oak Ridge (1919)
  • Gray Squirrel (1921)
  • Striped Coat, the Skunk (1922) illustrated with photographs
  • Persimmon Jim the 'Possum (1924)
  • Long Horn, Leader of the Deer (1928) illustrated with photographs
  • The Wolf King (1933) illustrated by Paul Bransom
  • The Red Roan Pony (1934) illustrated by Lynn Bogue Hunt
  • Chisel-Tooth the Beaver (1936) illustrated by Roland V. Shutts
  • Animal Neighbors of the Countryside (1938) illustrated by Lynn Bogue Hunt
  • Wilderness Champion: The Story of a Great Hound (1944) illustrated by Paul Bransom
  • Black wings: The Unbeatable Crow (1947) illustrated by Lynn Bogue Hunt
  • The Wahoo Bobcat (1950) illustrated by Paul Bransom
  • The Phantom Deer (1954) illustrated by Paul Bransom
  • Old Bill, the Whooping Crane (1958) illustrated with photographs
  • Coyote, the Wonder Wolf (1964) illustrated by Ed Dodd
Sheppard shows strong compositions of deer in their natural setting here  and they mirror other work in other magazines. But as usual Sheppard does not duplicate but uses his intimate knowledge of the wildlife he studied to produce fresh illustrations
Page 80.
He gave a bound, a beautiful, graceful leap, the last that he was ever to make
Here we see the deer's antlers are the focal point and we then realise he is swimming past mangroves (with a hind following) but then the warning note - a hunter in a boat can be seen taking aim
Page 123
The buck surged forward; the buck knew he was discovered
A stag, four deer and a fawn stand at the water's edge, two raccoons scramble onto a branch. The dark background adds to the ominous atmosphere.
Page 175
It was the highest ground where they could at least keep their footing

Monday, 28 October 2013

Raymond Sheppard and Childrens posters

Raymond Sheppard had further connections with Enid Blyton beyond illustrating some of her Holiday books. He drew some posters for which Blyton wrote stories. The posters are roughly 20 1/2" x 16 1/4" (52cm x 41cm) and are often cut to clean the pinholes and tatty edges when they come up for sale on eBay. These were all published by George Newnes. My detailed information comes from the excellent Enid Blyton Society webpages:

Two Years in the Infant School (Box 1 Topics 1-21) by Enid Blyton
Snails at School - Story: Topic 17 Specially Written
The Snail -Poem: Topic 17 Specially Written

Snails (Topic 17)
Two Years in the Infant School (Box 2 Topics 22-42) by Enid Blyton contains the Oak tree
1. A Basket of Acorns - Story: Topic 31 Specially Written
2. Bunty's Dream - Story: Topic 31 Specially Written
3. Good Dog Rover! - Story: Topic 31 Specially Written
4. Acorn Girls - Poem: Topic 31 Specially Written

The Oak Tree (Topic 31)
 Two Years in the Infant School (Box 3 Topics 43-63) by Enid Blyton contains "Birds in winter - Swans, Rooks, Starlings"
1. Sammy, Sue and the Swans - Story: Topic 43 Specially Written
2. Jake's Horse - Story: Topic 43 Specially Written
3. Kate's Cake - Story: Topic 43 Specially Written
4. The Big Black Rook - Poem: Topic 43 Specially Written
Birds in winter - Swans, Rooks, Starlings (Topic 43)

But these weren't the only posters he drew.

He also provided two for Macmillan's Teaching in Practice for Infant Schools (Projects and pictures).

Poster Index
The 75 original colour printed educational school posters measured approximately 13.5 x 14 inches. Interestingly they feature amongst others, Mickey Mouse, Bonzo, Punch & Judy  as well as Princess Elizabeth as a child. The illustrators include C.N. Dilly, G. Halsey, L.R. Steele, Cora E.M. Paterson, G. Studdy, and Mabel Lucie Attwell amongst others. They originally came in a black case which has a list of all the posters (see above).

The two accompanying posters by Sheppard are titled "Harold makes a movie" and "Magic music" - sometimes mistakenly called "Magic Muse"

Harold makes a movie (#73)

Magic Music (#75)
The author given for this set, I assume wrote materials for the teacher to use to accompany the pictures, is E J S Lay and it was published by Macmillan and Co Limited., in 1934. I've talked about Lay here because he edited the series for which Sheppard drew covers and some colour plates.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Raymond Sheppard and My Book of Flowers, Wild Flowers, Birds, Animals, Trees, Insects, Seashore Animals and Fish

I want to write about the posters that Raymond Sheppard produced for schools. This time I want to bring you books that were used by teachers in class to accompany posters and later I'll reproduce the posters themselves - where I know about them!

Macmillan's Easy Study Series or "The Children's Nature Books" as it says on the title page were edited by E. J. S. Lay (or to give him his full name Edward John Stanley Lay).

The one pictured below first, is dated 1943 inside - it's important for purposes of dating Sheppard's work to note that the cover, the standard tough linen binding, could have been done earlier, and the contents of this title in the series have none of Sheppard's work.

My Book of Flowers, 1943

My Book of Wild Flowers (note extra word in title!) by W. M. (Winifred Mary) Daunt and E. J. S. Lay, 1943 contains descriptions of flower families and has 16 colour plates (illustrated by Miss D. (Dorothy) Fitchew). I have a second copy where I noticed the flowers, the girl is picking, are different and the title has changed above Sheppard's artwork! The date inside the latter (below) is 1949 and to add to the mystery the title page states this is a reprint of the earlier 1943 - thus making me think that the cover is one thing; the contents another. Why do I think this? Sheppard drew a cover for the Kingfisher series of books but his work did not appear in any copy that I have seen and the cover was used for the whole series.

Kingfisher Books
Anyway, back to the My Book of series. The Preface credits not only Miss D. Fitchew but also Miss O. Tassart - which again we librarians would call a new edition not a reprint. I assume the flowers on the cover  (from what looks like daffodils changed to bluebells) has been done by Sheppard and not Tassart, who I suspect was missed off the first edition credits -Sheppard is not credited at all.

My Book of Wild Flowers, 1949

My book of birds by W. M. Daunt and E. J. S. Lay, 1943 has a cover of a heron by Sheppard with 16 colour plates by Roland Green ("the well-known bird artist"). There are black & white illustrations in the book and I recognise the uncredited 'LRB' as Leonard Robert Brightwell, but there are others I can't identify.

My Book of Birds, 1943

My book of animals and trees by Kate Harvey & E. J. S. Lay, 1943 has a cover by Sheppard that shows a deer family and the book contains 16 colour plates and black & white illustrations by Stuart Tresilian and Miss Dorothy Fitchew but also includes uncredited Harry Rountree (who signs his distinctive work). There are two drawings I believe are Sheppard on pages 20 and 36 (see below) otherwise I'm sure the others are not.

My Book of Animals and Trees, 1943

Brown rat from p.20

Otter and cub from p.36

My book of insects, seashore animals and fish by Kate Harvey & E. J. S. Lay, 1943 a cover of Koi Carp by Sheppard and contains 16 colour plates . The preface has a credit for the pictures and says "the text is illustrated by pictures of all the creatures in their full, natural colours, painted by the well-known nature artists F. W. Frohawk, A. G. Stubbs and Raymond Sheppard" 

My book of insects, seashore animals and fish, 1943
The illustrations by Frohawk (of insects) are signed and then there are a selection of seashore plants and creatures followed by these fish illustrations. None of the latter two sections are signed and I can't find anything on A. G. Stubbs to see what his artwork looked like.

Freshwater fish:
Minnow, Stickleback. Perch, Trout and Pike

Sea fish:
Red Gurnard, Red Mullet, Common Sole, Herring,
Mackerel, Pipe Fish, Armed Bullhead, Eel

Sea fish II:
Cod, John Dory, Sting Ray, Plaice,
Whiting, Lesser-spotted dogfish
It's interesting to see a different treatment by Sheppard of fish in plates that I have yet to identify, in an earlier article

The copy of the Kingfisher Books (Second Series #B13) above "A Donkey called Maggie" by George H. Mallory has internal illustrations by Ferelith Eccles Williams and was published in 1958. Sheppard died in 1958 and I suspect the cover was done prior to 1958 as some of the series - which are hard to pin down - date back to the early 1950s.
Others in this third series with Sheppard covers:
  • "Coonie The Bandit" by James Alan Rennie, and is illustrated inside by Maurice Wilson
  • "Annaleeza's Adventure" by Susan Ann Rice - [illustrated by J. S. Goodall]
  • "The Golden Boy and Other Stories [The Kingfisher Books, Third Series]William Glynne-Jones [Illustrations by Chas Howarth] This latter was published 1951 and according to the bookseller is colour throughout - whether this means single drop colour or not, I don't know. 
And handily here is the cover - which is obviously by Sheppard thus confirming my theory.


Monday, 7 October 2013

SALES of Raymond Sheppard art at Paul Liss's site

I first met Paul Liss many years ago at the 20/21 Art fair and bought my first Raymond Sheppard piece there. Since then he has accumulated many pieces by Sheppard ranging from animal illustrations, landscapes and sketches through to illustrations for magazine articles and abstract paintings.

His latest collection of new stock (which includes Brangwyn, Victor Hume Moody, Nash amongst many others) has five pieces by Raymond Sheppard. I have reproduced them here for convenience but do visit his site for not only the new collection but also many other pieces by Sheppard that are for sale

With thanks to Liss Fine Art for allowing me to include these images and accompanying text

Christine seated on a stool, c. 1950
Christine, Sheppard's first child, provided her father many opportunities for him to learn the human figure. This piece is particularly sweet, in my opinion, with those wonderful coloured dress prints of the 1950s.

Study of Iris [Mrs. Sheppard] sleeping, mid 1940's

Another lovely piece. Was Iris faining sleep for purposes of skethching?

Indian Bull Frog (Rana Tigrina), circa 1950

Sheppard drew the illustrations for Lilliput October 1954 which were for a story by Gerald Durrell  called "The hunt for the hairy frogs" - a different breed, but all good practice to how a frog places it weight when at rest. 

Self Portrait Sketching, 1935
Sheppard himself here holds a board as sketches himself in a full length mirror. I have not yet found whether he used this in an illustration or whether it was for the use of cloth folds in a picture.

Beach scene, late 1930's

I have no idea which beach this is, but if anyone wants to hazard a guess please let me know

Monday, 16 September 2013

Raymond Sheppard and Heidi and Dog Crusoe

In a previous article on Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, I commented that Sheppard had drawn for Blackie & Son and there were various reprints under different series titles. I have a copy of the classic Heidi that on the dustjacket states "Blackie's Famous Books" and on the inside flyleaf of the cover states "Blackie's Library of Famous Books". The former is a reasonable abbreviation in order to fit the title on the cover!

Heidi cover by Raymond Sheppard

List of Blackie's Library of famous Books
The difficulty in identifying whether Sheppard drew the covers for all these (let alone the illustrations - if there are any) is they are so common but these specific editions with dustjackets are so hard to find!

Here are the internal pictures of the Heidi:

Frontispiece “Oh, I know what these are for”

p.117 “Oh, the dear little things, how pretty they are!”

p.169 The moonlight fell on a white figure standing motionless in the doorway

p.317 “Look! Look! I can make proper steps!”

Interestingly a bookseller in Spain of all places, has an original art piece (costing £596.03 with £10.12 shipping today's currency conversion rate!) which does not appear in any of the three editions of Heidi illustrated by Sheppard I have seen. This can be viewed here. I have reproduced the illustration below which the bookseller (Escalinata, librería) describes (in my rough translation) as:

ORIGINAL DRAWING. Unpublished illustration for HEIDI, Blackie & Son Limited edition, illustrated by Raymond Sheppard, signed by the author [sic] and in pencil final size and page number is indicated. 
The bookseller kindly sent the scan below for which I am extremely grateful.
Unpublished Heidi drawing by Raymond Sheppard

The full text of this story written in 1860 by R. M. Ballantyne (24 April 1825 – 8 February 1894) can be read on Project Gutenberg in your favoured e-format, and tells the story of young Dick Varley who saves the life of a Newfoundland puppy from being roasted alive by Native Americans. He then has to learn how to discipline and care for the dog and their adventures in North America in the land of the Red Indians makes thrilling reading for younger people. Its sub-title was "A tale of the Western prairies".

The copy I have has only a cover illustration by Raymond Sheppard showing a Newfoundland running along with two prairie riders and the spine illustration shows a boy being defended from a mountain lion by the dog. 

This Blackie edition of Dog Crusoe (the title of which appears listed above) has a different look from the other books mentioned here. Hopefully in writing about this some keen collector might get in contact and help complete this picture!

The only inner illustration is a colour frontispiece by -I think - Arch(?) Webb. If I'm reading this right, there is an excellent article on him on the Look & Learn site

The Dog Crusoe cover illustrations by Sheppard
Frontis by A. Webb.