Millicent Sowerby was born in Northumberland, England, the daughter of designer and illustrator John G. Sowerby. When Sowerby was young, her father wrote and illustrated books for children, copying the style of Kate Greenaway, later turning to landscapes.
Finding encouragement at home, Sowerby started painting at an early age. She took some art classes for several years but distance prevented her from attending them for more than two days a week. Mostly, she was self-taught, learning from the work of other illustrators.
In an attempt to help their family’s finances, Sowerby and her sister Githa collaborated on children’s books. Githa wrote the stories and verses while Sowerby illustrated them for over twenty years. Sowerby was also a prolific illustrator of children’s picture post cards, depicting scenes from Shakespeare, and Kate Greenaway type girls. Later, she designed thirty sets of cards for a yearly series called ‘Postcards for the Little Ones’.
When Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland went out of copyright in 1907, like other illustrators, Sowerby was commissioned to illustrate it
Well into her eighties, Sowerby remained a watercolorist and painted flowers.
Influences, Style & Technique
She had a fondness for children so naturally, she chose them as her subjects.
“It has always been the beautiful in childhood that has attracted me. I love flowers and bright colours, and I generally use these in the backgrounds for my paintings of children.”Her early work exhibits strong outlines, flat color and oftentimes hand-lettering. Her later work was more painterly and looser.
Children’s Books Illustrated
Millicent remained unmarried, and continued to paint into her 80s. She died in 1967 at the age of 89.
This illustration was torn out from a book illustrated by Amy Millicent Sowerby. The vandalised book was either Childhood (1907) or Yesterday's Children (1908).
Amy collaborated with her sister Githa , a writer.
Amy is on the right , Githa is in the centre.