Muriel Dawson (1897-1974) was born in New Zealand to Scottish parents, but moved back to the UK in 1913. She studied art at Richmond School of Art and later the Royal College and found work as an illustrator from the early 1920s. Muriel enjoyed rural life and spent time living in Sussex and Dartmoor before finally returning to her Scottish roots and settling in the remote Shetland Islands, where she spent the final years of her life. During the 1920s and 1930s her work had been familiar to thousands. As well as illustrating a number of books, Dawson contributed hundreds of pictures for the front cover of weekly magazine Woman's Pictorial from the 1920s through to the 1940s. Her colourful drawings of children were beautifully observed and affectionate.
Her archive also includes several small sketch books, filled with pencil drawings, mainly of children and babies but also mothers with their offspring, as well as dogs, cats and a number of fine flower and plant paintings, demonstrating her deep love of nature subjects. Even the simplest figures show a wonderfully fluid style and an eye for capturing movement, emotion and tenderness. Frequent annotations record thoughts about improvements to the drawings or are snippets of conversation with the children that have struck Muriel as amusing or poignant.
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