Oliver Brooke Herford (1863 - 1935)
Oliver Brooke Herford was born in Sheffield, England on December 1, 1863, son of
Reverend Brooke and Hannah Herford. He was an author, illustrator, cartoonist,
comedian, and poet. He was the third son born, and also had six sisters. Herford
had many artists in his family. His grandmother, who was mainly a farmer, had
some ability in writing and drawing, and taught at a school for girls in
Altrincham, which was about eight miles from Manchester where the Herford's
lived. Oliver's father was a well-known Unitarian minister, editor, and writer.
His uncle, William Henry, was also a Unitarian minister and was famous for his
works on educational subjects.
When Oliver Herford was almost twelve years old, his family moved to Chicago,
Illinois so that his father could accept a call to the Church of the Messiah.
They stayed in Chicago for about seven years, and then moved to Boston,
Massachusetts, where his father would become the pastor of the Arlington Street
Church. He served this church for ten years, and then returned to England.
Oliver attended school in Lancaster, England until he was enrolled in Antioch
College, Ohio in 1877. Soon he wanted training in art, and after studying in
Chicago and Boston, he attended Slade School in London and then studied at
Julian's in Paris.
Oliver then returned to the United States, and lived in New York City at 142
East Eighteenth Street for the next thirty years. His home was not far from the
Player's Club, of which he became a member and often displayed his ability in
comedy. He married Margaret Regan on May 26, 1904, who was born in Manchester
England. She had attended a convent school and moved to the United States to
appear in a convent play. She was also a writer in light verse and had worked
with Oliver Herford before their marriage.
Oliver was a very modest, shy person, and his friends sometimes called him
"Elf", "Peter Pan", or "Ariel". He was said to have always seen a humorous side
in anything said or done, and his thoughts were "swift and shrewd". His choice
of words was short and simple, like his description of a pest, "a man who can
talk like an encyclopedia, and does." Many of his sayings are in dictionaries of
similes and quotations. He was a master of both writing and illustration,
especially of young women, children, and animals, which were said to be his best
The New York Times summed him up by calling him "intelligent, and well-bred what
with his animals and his children and his artistic simplicities he was remote
from the style of the best moderns. No violence, or obscenity, not even
obscurity or that long windedness which is the signet of the illustration
writers today. " Oliver Herford died at the age of seventy-two July 5, 1935. His
funeral was held in St. George's Episcopal Church, and his wife died the