Bertram Prance

Born 1889, Bideford, Devon.
Died 1958

He was a regular contributor of cartoons to Punch before 1916, and to Happy Mag. His illustrations to stories can be found in many pre-war magazines.
He was a member of the Savage Club, a member of the London Sketch Club, and a friend of the famous artist Heath Robinson.
He lived at 'Chudleigh', Rudgwick, near Cranleigh in Sussex.

He is, to me, the most familiar of Saville's artists, not surprising in that he illustrated eight of the most successful of this author's books.
He was called in to illustrate the second in the Lone Pine series, Seven White Gates, published in 1944. The following year he reillustrated the first in the series, Mystery at Witchend originally illustrated by Gretchen Breary.
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These were followed by The Gay Dolphin Adventure (1945), The Secret of Grey Walls (1947), Lone Pine Five (1949) and The Elusive Grasshopper (1951).
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For the latter he painted a completely new dustwrapper used on the second edition in 1954. The last two books he illustrated were The Neglected Mountain (1953) and Saucers Over the Moor (1955).
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For each of these books, Prance produced some eight or so lovely, realistic, drawings of cast and scenery which fitted so well with Saville's writing that it is difficult to see the characters through another artist's eyes.

Of course, I first encountered the stories with these illustrations. For others the protrayals of the characters by Peter Archer, Michael Whittlesea, A R Whitear or Terry Freeman may seem more real. But not for me.

As well as the above novels, Bertram Prance also produced a single drawing to go in the extract A Strange Couple and two for the short story The Flower Show Hat, both published in collections in 1950.

Prance illustrated other books. In England Now (Collins 1937), by Mary Ellen Chase is an American lady professor's view of life in England during her two years studying at Oxford. She was already well known as the author of the novels Mary Peters and Silas Crockett.
Prance's illustrations vary from the straight pictorial to the cartoon depiction of various English characters.

In a similar vein, he illustrated several books on living in the country by the Punch comic writer and neighbour of his, 'AA', Anthony Armstrong.

He illustrated two Children's books set in America, written by Herbert Best and published by Newnes.
These are Gunsmith's Boy and Border Iron. The latter is illustrated by eleven pen and ink illustrations as well as the full colour dustwrapper.
Incidentally, the back of that dustwrapper advertises 'The Gay Dolphin Adventure', 'Mystery at Witchend' and 'Seven White Gates' by Malcolm Saville !
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Border Iron by
Herbert Best
1946

Radio drama's most famous inn 'The Bull' at Ambridge he portrayed in his dustwrapper for Newnes of the first novel from the popular radio serial.
This is 'The Archers of Ambridge' written by Geoffrey Webb and Edward J. Mason. First published in 1954, it was a popular book, it was reprinted three times in its first year.
Sadly Bertram Prance only produced a dustwrapper, the book is otherwise not illustrated. What a great pity he didn't illustrate those well loved characters !
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The Archers of Ambridge
Newnes 1954

There is a photograph of him and more information on the Prance Family website.


This page is part of the Malcolm Saville Centenary Website. To enter this site by the front door, click here.
Illustrations copyright the respective Publishers
Text copyright John Allsup
Created August 2002
last updated Oct 2008