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Mabel Lucie Attwell on Finding Inspiration Amid Motherhood

Mabel Lucie Attwell on Finding Inspiration Amid Motherhood

In the bustling world of artistry, Mabel Lucie Attwell carved a niche that continues to captivate hearts today.

From Christmas cards for the Royal Family to magazine illustrations, advertising campaigns for the London Underground and illustrations of children’s classics, Mabel Lucie’s work was a huge commercial success. Her familiar illustrations of popular children’s classics from Alice in Wonderland to Grimm’s and Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales, Peter Pan and The Water Babies are recognised and loved around the world.

Known for her ability to evoke smiles and warmth through her illustrations, Mabel's journey was deeply intertwined with the joys and challenges of motherhood.

From her early years in the East End of London to her eventual acclaim as a beloved artist, Mabel's reflections on motherhood echoed the sentiment shared by countless mothers worldwide.

‘…motherhood was the most wonderful thing in my life. My career is me and my pictures are me, but no artist, or writer – or scientist – could make anything as perfect as a baby, and yet through me it had been done.’

A self-portrait of Mabel with her daughter, Peggy, 1909


Drawing inspiration from her own experiences, Mabel infused her art with the endearing quirks and tender moments she observed in her children. Each stroke of her brush and every playful detail in her illustrations reflected a deep understanding of childhood innocence and parental love.

As Mabel puts it, ‘All my paintings are the outcome of quaint and beautiful things I have seen at tucking up time, or moments almost as eventful in baby life. It is then that I see deep into their little minds, and I am grateful for having the receptiveness of brain to retain the dainty secrets I have seen.’

She adored her children and her only daughter, Peggy, who was also a talented artists in her own right, began helping her in the 1950s with postcard designs. Peggy’s grandson Webster Wickham is now the licensing agent for Mabel Lucie Attwell’s work. 

Her unique ability to bridge the gap between children and adults through her artistry made her creations timeless treasures cherished by generations. Through whimsical characters and charming narratives, Mabel spoke directly to the child within every adult, inviting smiles and laughter with her gentle humor.

Mabel explained her approach in an interview with Charles Hamblett of the Daily Sketch:

‘I see the child in the adult. Then I draw the adult as a child. The situation, the stance and the vocabulary are taken from children, but the message is between adults – me and any other.’


Her cheeky humour charmed grown-ups around the world and from all walks of life. Gently saucy, it hit on the things people wished they were brave enough to say in person. In 1962 Peter Laurie, a feature writer for Vogue, summed this up: ‘Her cards solve a million problems of communication for the repressed English.’

In the midst of personal trials and triumphs, Mabel remained steadfast in her dedication to both her family and her craft. Her illustrations, often depicted as "smiling through tears," served as beacons of hope and comfort during times of adversity, resonating with audiences across the globe.

Today, as we celebrate the enduring legacy of Mabel Lucie Attwell, we honor her profound insight into the beauty of motherhood and the boundless inspiration it offers. Her art continues to serve as a timeless reminder of the joy, love, and resilience found in the journey of parenthood.


Shop our Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan collection featuring the illustrations of Mable Lucie Attwell.


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