Sidney H. Sime
(British, 1867-1941)
The pre-eminent illustrator of the Edwardian Age, whose imaginative work graces such children's classics as Alice in Wonderland, Grimm's Fairytales, and many others, he was born on September 19, 1867, in London, England, as one of twelve children.  A stude

Prior to attending classes at the Liverpool School of Art, a young Sidney H. Sime spent time working as a coal miner, a baker, and a shoemaker, all before finding a job with a sign maker. Though he had always shown promise of artistic talent, it took a while before he could afford to take art classes while he worked. He was eventually noticed for his ability and began to receive assignments as a freelance artist, mostly doing humorous cartoons. Sime’s break came when he began working with the London Strand, The Idler, The Sketch, and Eureka. While illustrating some fanciful characters in these magazines, his work was noticed by an Irish author with some fantastic ideas of his own: Lord Dunsany.


In 1905, Dunsany approached Sime about illustrating a book of his short stories, The Gods of Pegana. With that book, collaboration began between the two that existed for over fifteen years and produced over 75 book illustrations painted by Sime. Most of these involved areas of fantasy and dreamlike landscapes that had never been put on paper before. Sime was seen as an innovator, his work continuing to draw attention in even wider circles. Later that same year, William Randolph Hearst offered him a job in America. Sime accepted and moved to New York, but after half a year, he resigned the position, wanting to return to his friends and the familiar surrounding in England. On his return to England, he settled in Worplesdon, where he lived for the res of his days.


The vision that Sime and Dunsany shared extended far beyond the work Sime did for the novels and short stories. Dunsany went on to become a markedly successful playwright and Sime contributed to some of his stage designs as well as the occasional frontispiece for new collections of plays. Sime garnered high praise from critics many of whom saw his works as visionary, comparing it to the likes of Blake and Doré.


When Europe become involved in World War I, Sime felt he must contribute to the effort and at 47, he joined the Army Service Corps. His contribution was cut short due to ill health and on his return—aside from some sporadic magazine work—illustration assignments waned, and Sime’s focus turning more toward panting. Two successful exhibitions of his work were held in London at the St. George Gallery in 1924 and 1927. A large collection of Sime’s works can be viewed today at the Worplesdon Memorial Hall.


Menges, Jeff A. 101 Great Illustrators from the Golden Age, 1890-1925. Published by Dover Publications. Mineola, New York, 2016. p. 208.