Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sidney Stanley

Sidney Stanley (b. Clapham, London, 14 August 1890; d. Marylebone, London, 5 February 1956)

**updated January 2016; and August & September 2020**

Very little is known of the painter and illustrator Sidney Stanley, the only child of Walter Stanley (b. c. 1858), a clerk at the Board of Trade, and his wife Viola Agatha, née Blenman (b. in Barbados, c. 1858), who were married in Lambeth, London, in the summer of 1889. 

from The Story of Buddha
Born Sydney Walter Stanley (all official records give his first name as “Sydney”), he signed his art as “Sidney Stanley”, and apparently used the spelling “Sidney” for all non-official purposes. The 1911 UK Census shows the family in Clapham, with Sydney listed as an “art student”. He exhibited with the Royal Academy in 1916 and 1922, and apparently was known for painting landscapes and murals. Here I shall discuss only his  five illustrated books, plus one other compilation in which his art appeared. In his last years he was active in the British Astronomical Association.  

His first book he co-illustrated with Gilbert James. It was Edith Holland’s The Story of Buddha (London:  Harrap, [August 1916]).  It contains nine illustrations, five signed by Stanley, three signed by James, with an unsigned frontispiece.  Oddly, James is given first billing despite Stanley having contributed more illustrations. 

The next book is perhaps his most significant in terms of his book illustrations, Serbian Fairy Tales, translated by Madame Elodie L. Mijatovich (London: William Heinemann, 1917; New York:  Robert M. McBride, 1918). It contains eight color plates (a few particularly excellent), and eight black and white illustrations. 

from "Satan's Jugglings and God's Might"

from "Bash-Chalek; or, True Steel"

Stanley was one of several illustrators to contribute to Puck Annual 1923 (London: Amalgamated Press, 1922), and his final illustrated books were for a series of pocket-sized classics published by Collins.

The first is Tales Grotesque (London: Collins Clear-Type Press, [March 1931]), by E.A. Poe.It contains five plates, but reprints contain only the frontispiece (the first one below).

Stanley’s next illustrated book was The Willows and Other Queer Tales (London: Collins Clear-Type Press, [February 1932], by Algernon Blackwood.  It contains five plates by Stanley, illustrating classic stories like “The Willows” (top) and “Ancient Sorceries” (second and third).  

Stanley's final illustrated book was The House with the Green Shutters (London: Collins Clear-Type Press, [March 1933], by George Douglas.  Here is the frontispiece*.

Stanley’s book illustrations deserve much more attention than they have hitherto received. 

*Thanks to Barbara Baran for supplying the four additional illustrations to the Poe volume, and for pointing out that The House with Green Shutters also appears to have five plates in its first edition, with the copies with only a frontispiece being reprints. [August & September 2020]


  1. Liking your blog very interesting!

  2. Stanley also illustrated the Edinburgh New University Society edition of George Douglas's 'The House With The Green Shutters' (1900). 6 monochrome full-page plates.

    1. Thanks for pointing out this book. I've done a bit of digging, and it seems unlikely that Stanley illustrated the 1900 Edinburgh New University Society edition, for he would only have been ten years old at the time. His illustrations do appear in the undated Collins Clear-Type Press edition, the publisher for which Stanley did the Poe and Blackwood titles in the early 1930s. I suspect the illustrated edition of The House with the Green Shutters dates from around the same period. I'll look into this further, and post the results in the future.

  3. I have a hand stamped fascimile print of his. How do I find out what it is worth? I can send pics of the print. I believe it to be rare as I can't find anything on it. It is called Top o'the Hill.

    1. Sorry, I don't know anything about prints or values. Good luck with your search, and thanks for writing.

  4. Where did you find all the info on Sidney Stanley? I have print that I feel is rare and would like some assistance. I can't find anything about him. Your blog is the best info thus far!

    1. Most of the info I dug up from genealogical sources, or old reference books. It was because I could find nothing easily about the artist that I started digging further.