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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, before finding a job as 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 and his work continuing to draw attention in wider circles. Later that same year, William Randolph Hearst offered him a job in America. Sime accepted and moved to New York, but after a brief period, he resigned the position and returned to England where he remained for the rest of his life.

The vision that Sime and Dunsany shared extended far beyond the work Sime contributed to his 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 them to the likes of Blake and Doré.

At the outbreak of World War I, at age 47, Sime 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 painting. 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.

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