Helen McKie, artist and illustrator: papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Personal papers (1896-1957); Additional papers collected by John Fraser (1889-2004); Paintings and drawings (1904- 1954); Published illustrations (1924-1953); Photographs (1902- 1957); Press cuttings (1909-2000); Ephemera (1908-1948); framed paintings and drawings (ca. 1904 - ca. 1954); books which belonged to Helen McKie (1936 - 1941).

Administrative / Biographical History

Helen Madeline McKie was born on the 11th October 1889 in London. She was educated at Tiffin Girls School, Kingston on Thames, and Lambeth School of Art, where she studied composition and painting under Philip Connard. She then became an illustrator and permanent member of staff to 'Bystander' magazine from 1915-1929. She was also a contributing artist to The Graphic, Sphere, Autocar, and Queen publications. In 1919 she exhibited at Brock Street Art Gallery, and in 1928 at Walkers Galleries, where Queen Mary purchased a picture. She also exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1934-1936 and at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1936. McKie became well known for her drawings of military figures during World War I, and corresponded with soldiers in active service across the world. In 1931, she paid a visit to the Brown House, Munich when on the strength of a letter of introduction to Hitler, was allowed to sketch Nazi officials. During World War II, she was commissioned by Lord Lloyd to make sketches of Navy personnel and warships. In 1943, she painted 'The Upper War Room' at Admiralty, Whitehall for presentation to Sir Winston Churchill, who was in the picture. She produced commissioned work for the Southern Railway, including two paintings of Waterloo Station in 1943 and 1948, and the decoration of two coaches for a continental boat train 'SS Brittany'. She also wrote and illustrated an article for the coronation edition of Country Life magazine in 1953. Mural designs were designed and painted by McKie for, amongst others; the Ritz Hotel in London, several Butlins holiday camps including a Bahamas resort, Ford motorcars, the French government Tourist Office, and Selfridges. Her published work includes illustrations for 'Beau Geste' (1924) 'My Secret London' (1932) and 'The Romance of London River' (1934). McKie lived and worked in Chelsea throughout her life, but travelled extensively with her work. She remained unmarried and spent many of her later years with her sister Kitty Fraser. She died in February 1957.

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Gift of John Fraser, nephew of Helen McKie, 2005

Given by John Fraser, 2009, AAD/2009/3

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Corporate Names