Sunday, 1 May 2016

Raymond Sheppard and the Last Wolf and The Riddle

"It's old, it's wise, in spite of its howls
The treasure is hid by the knife.
A hunter must follow the three white owls:
But someone will pay with a life."

Lilliput Oct-Nov 1951 Cover by Donald Brown

I am the very proud owner of some original Raymond Sheppard artwork. Where some people love his animal work, I enjoy his magazine illustrations because they are interesting in the original format. But before I show what I own, I need to tell you my story. Many years ago I visited the British Library in order to list in detail Frank Bellamy's work in Lilliput magazine. I loved the fact while I was doing this I discovered many Sheppard illustrations. You need to know that Lilliput, at this stage, measured just 5.5" x 7.5" (14.5cm x 19.5cm) - allegedly to fit in soldier's pockets. So the bound copies were really hard to peruse quickly, and I was just looking for illustrations. I felt uncomfortable skipping through pages so quickly with more serious scholars beside me! But these bound copies made it hard to even do that! However I found Sheppard had illustrated a story called "The Riddle" by James Houston & Don O'Donnell (pages 64-66 of the above issue for those who need to know) - that's the riddle at the top of this article.

After alighting on three pages with Sheppard artwork (no Bellamy) I was pleased with myself and carried on through not expecting any more. I rushed past a page with a tiny illustration and paused on the next page. I went back and there in minute lettering was that now familiar signature!  The article? "The Last Wolf"

But let's first have a look at "The Riddle" and as a special treat I have scanned the whole Inuit story..

Lilliput Oct-Nov 1951: The Riddle illustrated by Raymond Sheppard
Small elven creatures dance while a boy looks on
Lilliput Oct-Nov 1951: The Riddle illustrated by Raymond Sheppard
A dog howls as three owls rise into the air
I had real trouble with the above illustration, seeing what I was looking at until I noticed the boy at the right of the picture peering over the rock. And reading the story I immediately 'understood'.

James Archibald Houston, one of the authors, is someone I'd never heard of but thanks to I found his middle name which helped me find information (on Wikipedia) much quicker. he was a "Canadian artist, designer, children's author and film-maker who played an important role in the recognition of Inuit art and introduced printmaking to the Inuit." Read more about this adventurer here. Don O'Donnell appears to have co-written the four stories that appeared in Lilliput between 1951-1952 (saved for another time) and the Library of Congress catalog shows me that a Don O'Connell was the pseudonym for a Windsor Howard O'Donnell but that leads nowhere beyond one published work and may not be the same person.

Now to the that wolf I mentioned. the picture I found was a mere 2 inches square give or take. It was no wonder I missed it it first time. Here's the complete article:

Lilliput Oct-Nov 1951 The last wolf?
This fascinating story of the "Allendale Wolf" is wonderfully told on Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog and we have a contemporary postcard of the dead animal which even warrants a brief Wikipedia article

By Tassell, Carlisle - Postcard published in 1905,
Public Domain,
I prefer Raymond Sheppard's kinder treatment than this horrid postcard and I love the original artwork which I'm very proud to own.

Original art by Raymond Sheppard

The shaped paper over the artwork was there when I bought it


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