Warwick Waterman Goble was born in either 1861or 1863 in Hackney, London, and died on 24 January 1943. His background was working rather than middle-class; his father Burkitt Goble is said to have been a travelling salesman, but is recorded in the British census returns as a warehouse operative. Goble grew up in what was then a relatively poor area of Hackney, one of four children. He was educated, presumably on a scholarship, at the fee-paying City of London School, and progressed to training at the Westminster School of Art, where Aubrey Beardsley was later to study.

At the end of the eighties he worked as a ‘lithographic artist’ for a printer. In the early nineties he became a staff member at the Pall Mall Gazette while also contributing to the Westminster Gazette and Pearson’s Magazine. His illustrations in this period were in monochrome, reproduced using the new technology of photographic half-tone, and in 1901 he is listed as an ‘artist in black and white’. However, he found his real strength working in colour, developing a sensitivity to tone and tonal effects that would become his trademark. In the 1890s he exhibited his gem-like watercolours at the Royal Academy, the British Institute and the Suffolk Street Galleries, and in the Edwardian period he illustrated a number of polychromatic books for children and luxurious travel-books for adults. He was fortunate to gain contracts with the leading publishers of the time, notably Macmillan, Chatto, and Black, by whom he was employed for the next thirty years.

Goble retired in the late 1930s, living finally at a well-appointed address in the village of Merstham, Surrey, near Reigate. He did not marry and had no children; though of working-class origin he seems to have enjoyed a modestly prosperous and comfortable life. Nothing else is known of his character or circumstances: no personal documents have survived and he does not appear in literature of the period. Aged 80 or so, he died at home in the middle years of the Second World War. He left an estate of £4,767, an amount theoretically worth £150,000 in modern sterling, but probably with a buying power well in advance of current day £600,000 or more. Intriguingly, his will benefited a Ms. Stanway of Llandudno, North Wales.

His paintings continue to appear in the art-market, commanding high prices, and his books are prized by collectors for their vivid colour and decorative intensity. Though mainly a twentieth century artist, he made a small but important contribution to late Victorian illustration.

Works Cited

Ancestry.co.uk. Accessed 26 October 2017.

Created 25 October 2017