Born in Philadelphia on September 7, 1863, Jessie Wilcox Smith was a prolific illustrator whose work is still familiar and cherished more than 100 years later.
She was seventeen and training to be a kindergarten teacher before she discovered that she could draw. Smith then became a student of Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and of Howard Pyle at the Drexel Institute.
She used a charcoal line, usually with a watercolor wash, but sometimes with oil highlights. Many people are familiar with her illustrations of family life because they graced the covers of more than 200 Good Housekeeping magazines for fifteen years, but she also illustrated some of the great books of her day: A Child’s Garden of Verses, The Water Babies, Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, and Heidi.
Jessie Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Violet Oakley were great friends, having been former Pyle students, and together they leased the Red Rose Inn near Philadelphia. Ms. Smith died at her home in Cogs Hill, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, in 1935.