[n.p.]: , 1920. Item #01904
A Wonderfully Ethereal Watercolor from the Master of Children's Fantasy Illustrators
TIMLIN, William M. "The Fairy Walk." Original pen, ink and watercolor drawing, titled on lower left hand corner, signed on lower right hand corner and marked with Timlin's owl device. Image size: 20 5/8 x 12 1/2 inches: 525 x 320mm.Matted, framed and glazed.
William M. Timlin ranks alongside Dulac, Rackam, and Pogany as one of the greatest children's fantasy illustrators, despite his having published only one book in his lifetime (The Ship that Sailed to Mars, 1923). He died before his second great work, The Building of a Fairy City could be completed. The Fairy Walk depicts an elegant young lady in conversation with an ethereal figure sitting on a fence and holding onto a branch of a tree, observed by four ravens and a trio of mischievous looking goblins.
It is quite possible that this drawing is a finished watercolor for The Building of a Fairy City. It is beautifully executed and very large, drawn with finesse and detail, indicative of an important work. Even though this drawing is dated 1920, three years before The Ship that Sailed to Mars was published, Timlin had been working on drawings for The Building of a Fairy City for many years previous to the publication of his first book.
William Mitcheson Timlin (11 April 1892 - 1943) was an architect and illustrator. He was born in Ashington, Northumberland, the son of a colliery foreman. He showed talent for drawing at Morpeth Grammar School, and received a scholarship to the Armstrong College of Art in Newcastle. In 1912, he joined his parents in South Africa where he completed his training in art and architecture and remained for the rest of his life.
Timlin designed a number of important buildings in Kimberley including Kimberly Boys' High School while pursuing his interest in art, turning out a large number of watercolour fantasies in addition to oils, pastels, etchings and periodical illustrations. His work was regularly exhibited. He also wrote stories and composed music.
Timlin worked on The Ship that Sailed to Mars for two years. It was started as a diversion for his son in 1921. The work expanded until in its final form it had 48 pages of text and 48 color plates showing remarkable flights of fantasy. Timlin sent the book to publishers George Harrap, who were delighted with the illustrations and the calligraphic text, deciding to print it without typesetting. The book has since become a fantasy classic. The film rights to the book were purchased in the United States, where Timlin enjoyed great popularity. Alan Horne in The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators describes the book as a masterpiece and "the most original and beautiful children's book of the 1920s."
Timlin illustrated many South African travel books and prepared illustrations for a book titled The Building of a Fairy City which was never published. He died in Kimberley, Northern Cape in 1943.