Sunday, 23 March 2008

Meet Gladys Peto

Elusive, enigmatic, an artisan of extraordinary originality and talent, it's difficult to understand why an illustrator and writer as accomplished and pioneering as Gladys Emma Peto was during the 1920s and 30s is not recognised today as one of the greatest artists of her time.

What little is known about her has been gleaned from hours of research of obituaries, magazines and publications from the 20s and 30s, and piecing together evidence from the few letters and articles about her that still exist.

It is known that she was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire in 1890.  As child, she went to Maidenhead High School, then Harvington College in Ealing.  She later went on to study at the Maidenhead School of Arts in 1908 and the London School of art in 1911.  She then undertook a design course at the John Hassall Correspondence school in 1918.

She married Cuthbert Lindsay Emmerson in 1922.  He was in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and they travelled extensively throughout Egypt, Cyprus and Malta between 1924 and 1928.  They went on to live in India between 1933 and 1938, and finally settled in Northern Ireland in 1939.  She died in 1977.

It is not known whether Gladys and Cuthbert had any children, nor if they have any living relatives remaining.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no archive of her original artwork, which is extraordinary given the vast amount of illustrations she produced.

If you are a relative of Gladys Peto or Cuthbert Lindsay Emmerson, or have any information to share, please get in touch - maybe we can shine a light on this supremely talented artist and bring her work to the attention of a whole new generation.


Juliet said...

Fantastic new site - thanks for sharing your wonderful collection.

KSV Woolfoot said...

Wow. Let me get my jaw up off the floor. As a fellow-traveller in this small Peto coterie, all I can say is what a fabulous job you have done! And if all this stuff is from your collection, well, the mind boggles - especially if you got started "not so very long ago."
I will post a link on my own modest blog and I look forward to sharing more info. with you soon. Thanks for what must have been a lot of hard work and effort to produce such a beautiful blog.

Caroline said...

I love your blog and was so interested to see you have covered the amazing work of Gladys Peto.
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Summer Days in amazing condition and want to make sure if it is of great value I insure it as such. Would you possibly know where I could find such valuation information? If you have time to reply to my request my email address is
Caroline - Melbourne, Australia

KSV Woolfoot said...

Hi Jeanette -
How are things? I wonder if you noticed the GEP School Days Hankies someone is selling right now on Ebay? (I might have got the title wrong). I have never seen those anywhere. Looks like late Peto to me ... I would love to have them, of course, but ...$$ (they were at $99 with no bids when I looked last - a steal at that price). Just thought you might want to know. If you're stalking them, no need to publish this post.

emma tristram said...

i have more info about gladys peto but i can't see how to 'get in touch'. is there an email address hidden somewhere in this blog?

Gladys Peto said...

Hi Emma,

Thanks very much for getting in touch - please leave your email address as a comment and I will get back to you straight away.

Best wishes,

margaret said...

Hi fantastic site , came across Gladys Peto's Fireside Stories when clearing our my dear Dad's house after he passed away , woul love to know more about this particular book if you have any info please contact
kind regards Margaret

Anonymous said...

Amazing site-seems there is little information on Glady's Peto, but you have done a great job of covering everything, right down to a photo of her-wasn't she pretty? Having only recently become interested in her (I came across her Children's Annual on Ebay, and fell in love with the art deco prints-I won it and I am absolutley delighted with it) I am trying to find out as much information about Glady's Peto herself and her creations.

My book is a breaker,unfortunately... would it be wise to remove the prints so I may frame them (they would look wonderful framed) or would I devalue the book...? (thats if its worth anything at all, given the poor condition?) I don't have a lot of experience in old books, so any information you can give would be much appreciatted. By the way, I'm so envious of your collection! Lucky you! Please email me at: Looking forward to hearing from you.

David Cookney said...

Hi, Just discovered this brilliant site all about the fabulous Gladys Peto. I've been trying to find out more about her and her art for sometime now as I have two prints "The Busy Hive" & "Nightingale" and would really like to find some more. I notice you don't have a picture of "Nightingale" and I'm more than happy to share it with you if I can get an email address to send it to.

Anonymous said...

Hi - I came across your fantastic site whilst doing some research for my work. I'm an archivist at Boots (the chemists) and we have in our collection a few adverts that have Gladys Peto signatures on them. I didn't know anything about her so your site has proved very interesting. If you'd be interested in seeing the adverts you can reach me on

sruffell said...

I am sooo glad I found this site, I was looking for it for too long- Do you have an email address? Sara Ruffell