Mrs. Alice Mary Morgan (born Havers) is not particularly famous illustrator from the second half of 19 th century.
She lived in an era of first color printed books for children but her most successful field were probably oil paintings and greeting cards. Alice Havers was born in 1850 as the third daughter of Thomas and Ellen. Thomas Havers was manager of Fakland Islands and his children spent first years mostly in South America. Falklands at first (till 1861), after that Uruguay (till 1870, when Thomas died).
Family returned to England and Alice enrolled in South Kensington School of Art where her talent earned her a free studentship. She met Frederick Morgan (1847-1927), who was successful painter too and they married in 1872. They had three children but got separated in 1888 when she moved to Paris together with children.
We can’t be sure why Alice Havers moved to Paris. The ability to study with modern French painters is certainly only one of the reasons. There are rumors the marriage with Frederick Morgan wasn’t working. I have read they separated because of ‘incompatibility.’ She died in 1890 and I found somewhere she committed suicide what can support the theory of failing marriage. He married only a year later what can be another evidence.
Anyway, the legacy of Alice Havers is quite astonishing. She exhibited a lot, including the most prestigious places like Royal Academy, got numerous awards, even the Queen Victoria bought at least one of her early paintings…
On the other hand today’s expert doesn’t give her too many credits because her style is too sentimental judging by today’s standards.
One reason for that can be (I found that thought somewhere on the web, but can’ find it again) she was drawing children, not for children, like many other artists from those times.
She also illustrated books (including her older sister’s, who wrote under the pen name Theo. Gift and with real name Dorothy Henrietta Boulger, before marriage also known as Dora Havers).
Despite her popularity in 19 th century some critics openly judge at least part of Alice’s opus as terrible.
Well, too much of sentimentality is surely not a good thing, but I think some of her illustrations are still attractive with interesting compositions and good choice of colors.
Here are the illustrations from “The White Swans and Other Tales by Hans Christian Andersen” and see for yourself:
I believe Alice Havers’ served pretty well to illustrate these particular Andersen’s fairy tales. Her work can be also found in one very surprising place: in a book written by Lewis Carroll. No, I am not talking about Alice in Wonderland. I am talking about Sylvie and Bruno, his almost forgotten book which was expected to become the bestseller but publishers (and author himself) expected too much from it.
However, Lewis Carroll was known as very picky author who approved every single illustration and working for him at any project was really big deal. Sylvie and Bruno was illustrated by Harry Furniss, friend of Alice Havers. By coincidence one of illustrations in the book was drawn by her. Here it is:
And here is another single illustration from another book:
Unfortunately I got only black and white reproduction of this illustration, but you can get more from this book here.
And talking about black and white, I can add another set of illustrations from Bumblebee Bogo’s Budget, collection of poems written by William Webb Follett Synge, retired judge, published in 1887 by Macmillan:
This is enough for this post, I suppose. Maybe I should add Alice Havers used her maiden name through her entire career although she started it as official Mrs. Frederick Morgan. Her work is in Public Domain based on author’s life + 100 years, but this text, with all stylistic and grammatical errors is mine.
May the bumblebees be with you:)
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