|Dawson, Muriel.1907-74. born in Canterbury, New Zealand, in 1897 and came to England in 1913 where she enrolled as a student at the Richmond School of Art, Richmond. By 1918 she was at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, attending the Southend School of Art, and later that year moved to London where she studied at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington until 1922. Between 1920 and 1962, Dawson was well known as a children's book illustrator, working mainly in watercolours, crayon and pen-and-ink. In addition to the books that she wrote and illustrated, she collaborated on children's books including The Childhood of Jesus, with Clare Dawson which was published by the Medici Society in 1962. She also worked with her contemporary Margaret Tarrant (1888-1959) on The Rose Fyleman Birthday Book, published by the Medici Society in 1932. |
Some of her delightful studies of children are still available as prints today and careful study of the backgrounds reveals a clue to a largely unknown aspect of her character: her lifelong interest in natural history. Her children are nearly always depicted in the company of accurately drawn, readily identifiable plants and animals, as in the prints All on a Summer's Day, Crossing the Stream, and On the Cliff Top.
Muriel Dawson travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland and particularly loved wild, open places. In the late 1950s she moved to the Shetland Islands, where she sketched and painted prodigiously, amassing a collection of sketchbooks, folders and packets of drawings of mainly birds, mammals and landscapes. All of these, along with some earlier work, were bequeathed to the Natural History Museum upon her death in 1974. The artwork consists of pencil sketches, watercolours and works in crayon, many being completed during her time in the Shetland Islands.