English painter, illustrator and designer Lawson Wood, was born Clarence Lawson Wood, on 23 August 1878 in Highgate, London. He was the son of landscape artist Pinhorn Wood and the grandson of architectural artist L. J. Wood. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, Heatherley’s School of Fine Art and Frank Calderon’s School of Animal Painting.
- In 1902, Wood married Charlotte Forge. From the age of 24 he pursued a successful freelance career and was published in The Graphic, The Strand Magazine, Punch, The Illustrated London News, and Boys Own Paper.
- Wood was a member of the London Sketch Club. He was also elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and exhibited with Walker’s Galleries, Brook Street Art Gallery and the Royal Academy.
Wood is known for his humorous depictions of cavemen and dinosaurs, policemen, and animals, especially a chimpanzee called Gran’pop, whose annuals circulated around the world. His books include The Bow-Wow Book (1912), Rummy Tales (1920), The Noo-Zoo Tales (1922), Jolly Rhymes (1926), Fun Fair (1931), The Old Nursery Rhymes (1933), The Bedtime Picture Book (1943), Meddlesome Monkeys (1946), Mischief Makers (1946), and others. His bird and animal designs were reproduced as wooden toys known as “The Lawson Woodies”.
- During WWI, Wood served as an officer in the Kite Balloon Wing of the Royal Flying Corps and was responsible for spotting planes from a hot-air balloon. In recognition he was decorated by the French for his gallantry at Vimy Ridge.
Lawson Wood was deeply concerned with animal welfare and was awarded membership to the Royal Zoological Society in 1934. He also established a sanctuary for aged creatures. In his later years, he was a recluse and dwelt in a 15th-century medieval manor house which he moved brick by brick from Sussex to the Kent border. He died in Devon on 26 October 1957 at the age of 79.
“Is It Art?”