Mary Ellen Edwards (Mrs Staples) (1839-c.1910)

Mary Ellen Edwards was one of the most prolific illustrators of Victorian magazines and books. She came to London at the age of 14 to study art, attending classes held by E. A. Armitage R.A. in Harley Street, but dropped out after two terms. She then studied at the South Kensington School of Art, but again decided to stop after two terms, thereafter joining a group of friends to improve her technique. Her first Royal Academy picture was The Last Kiss in 1865 and after this she was represented there by oil paintings in most years through until 1908. Many of these were reproduced as art engravings.

Mary Ellen Edward's line drawings, signed M.E.E., appear from about 1863, and her mature, accomplished style is set by about 1865. Later, her drawings become somewhat repetitive, but what she does is done well, and her graceful girls in gardens and with children are carefully drawn. There is a slight sentimentality to her work, and this may be one reason why she attained great popularity. She drew for most of the Victorian illustrated magazines in the 1860s-1880s, and in lots of children's books of that period.

The Night Prince: to Julia

Illustration // Other artists