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A Letter from Mabel Lucie Attwell’s Great Grandson

on October 08, 2020

We are really excited to be working with Young Spirit creating an inspiring range of loungewear, bags and gifts based on Mabel Lucie Attwell’s original illustrations for children’s classics Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan and Wendy.

Magnolia Lounge Alice In Wonderland

Mabel Lucie Attwell was the mother of my grandmother, Peggy. Towards the end of Mabel Lucie Attwell’s career, my grandmother, who was also an illustrator, worked with her on postcards and annuals, and continued illustrating in Mabel Lucie’s style after her death in 1964. As children, Peggy’s studio became our summer playroom. As she worked, I, my sister Lucie, and our cousins Phoebe and Louise, would scribble alongside her on a huge white table.

Now proud to be representing my great-grandmother’s estate, I am exploring her prolific archives. It has taken me on a new journey into my family history. From rediscovering hundreds of original drawings tied in bundles inside worn cardboard boxes to unearthing piles of letters, journal notes and old photographs, I am unravelling her fascinating story. It is a story that has come alive for me now, filling me with renewed admiration for this extraordinary, pioneering and creative woman: my great-grandmother.

Funding her own place at art school through early commissions, first at Heatherley’s and later at Saint Martin’s School of Art, Mabel Lucie Attwell was always hardworking and fiercely professional. She is remembered as a formidable woman, with a clear commercial understanding and focus, who produced an enormous range of artistic styles. I have been amazed by the breadth and scope of my great-grandmother’s work: regular cartoon strips for the Illustrated London News, Bystander and Tatler, posters for London Underground, illustrations for children’s classic novels and extremely popular wartime postcards. Perhaps the most well known of all, produced at the height of her popularity in 1929, was the plaque: ‘Please remember – don’t forget’, gently reminding children to leave the bathroom clean and tidy.

Throughout her life, Mabel Lucie’s illustrations brought warmth to so many people’s lives. What has particularly interested me is how funny and sharply relevant many of her words still are; her soft line drawings and cheeky, cherubic characters, perfectly capturing the mood and drama of daily life. Whether on personal Royal Christmas cards for Princess Margaret in 1937, decorated crockery for the Royal nursery, or the pages of stylish women’s magazines, she reflected the national (and international) zeitgeist. But her humour, style and wise advice (not always heeded – her great-great- grandchildren still leave their wet towels on the bathroom floor!) continue to have huge resonance.

Towards the end of her life, Mabel Lucie Attwell was interviewed for Vogue, and her daughter suggested to her that she was having a ‘real comeback’. Popularity is something that Mabel Lucie both welcomed and enjoyed. She was a stylish, witty and fiercely professional artist whose work I am proud to celebrate. We look forward to sharing her work via Young Spirits products.

Webster Wickham
Mabel Lucie Attwell’s Great Grandson

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