New Amsterdam Book Co., 1897
Artists: Leigh Ellis & Fred Hyland
It's a gloomy day here with weather that seems more suited to October than early August and that gets me thinking of ancient horror stories like this one by Frank Aubrey. Born Francis Harry Atkins (1840-1927) this fairly prolific author wrote under a number of pseudonyms, notably "Frank Aubrey" and "Fenton Ash." His work is considered to have been originally written for juveniles and appeared in magazines as well as published books. The book from which these illustrations were taken is of the lost race genre and tells the story of the discovery of the legendary lost city of El Dorado. In Aubrey's version the city is a vicious place where humans are sacrificed to the carnivorous plant of the title.
I can find little about each artist's life. Fred Hyland's work does, however, pop up all over the internet. He was a book illustrator, poster artist and book binding designer. He contributed the intricate design to the cover of this book seen above as well as the creepy Art Nouveau style cover design for Uncanny Tales by Mrs. Molesworth. A poster of the Harper's magazine cover Hyland created announcing the publication of a serial version of George Du Maurier's novel The Martian shows up on the art auction house web pages. This one, at Christie's website, shows that an original lithograph of that poster of the magazine cover sold for over $3500. The poster - apparently Hyland's most popular work - has also been reproduced and can be purchased at numerous websites selling art prints.
I found absolutely nothing about Leigh Ellis even though each plate in the book is signed "Ellis & Hyland." They must've been partners of some sort. I found at least one poster, "The Gay Parisienne" signed "Hyland Ellis" that matches the Ellis Hyland signatures on the plates in the book. For some reason on this work they inverted their names. These internet poster sellers seem to think there is an artist named Hyland Ellis when, in fact, it is two collaborating artists.
Click on the images to enlarge for full Victorian splendor.
Ah! The sun has deigned to shine just as I finished this. Time to hit the road on our bicycles...