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Oliver Herford

[Sheffield, England 1863 – New York 1935]

Oliver Brooke Herford was an author, illustrator, cartoonist, comedian, and poet. Oliver’s father was a well-known Unitarian minister, editor, and writer.

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 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 for the next thirty years.

Oliver was a  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 topic.

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”.


Pen & Inklings (1893)
Artful Anticks (1894)
The Bashful Earthquake & Other Fables and Verses (1898)
An Alphabet of Celebrities (1899)
Overheard in a Garden (1900)
More Animals (1901)
The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten (1904)
The Fairy Godmother-in-Law (1905)
A Little Book of Bores (1906)
The Astonishing Tale of a Pen & Ink Puppet (1907)
The Peter Pan Alphabet (1907)
The Mythological Zoo (1912)
Capers: His Naps and Mishaps (1914)
Confessions of a Caricaturist (1917)
The Laughing Willow: Verses and Pictures (1918)
This Giddy Globe (1919)
The Herford Aesop: Fifty Fables in Verse (1921)
Neither Here Nor There (1922)
Excuse It Please (1929)
The Deb's Dictionary (1931)
Sea Legs (1931)


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