Gladys Peto Archives

Scope and Content

Miscellaneous archives with regard to the English artist, fashion designer, illustrator and writer of children's books Gladys Emma Peto. The collection contains items including her correspondence, nine of her sketch albums, children's books written and illustrated by Gladys Peto, including Twilight Stories, The Four-leaved Clover and other stories, Daphne and the Fairy and other Tales, Joan's visit to Toyland and The Snow-Man and other Tales. Travel books written and illustrated by Gladys Peto, family and promotional photos, postcards from her travels, fan mail and ceramics and handkerchiefs decorated with her artwork produced by R H & S Plant Ltd. There are a number of small diaries with penciled entries by Gladys, giving examples of her everyday life, from skiing holidays and hours of drawing to dancing in the evenings with friends, a nostalgic and fascinating window into the era.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gladys Emma Peto, the only daughter of William Peto, was born in Maidenhead in 1890. After attending Maidenhead art school, she continued her studies at the London school of art, being taught under Mr John Hassall and Mr Charles Orchardson. Her first job was producing illustrations for John Lane. Hard work and perseverance as an illustrator who captured the spirit of the times, she was soon a regular artist for such publications as The Sketch (1915-26), Woman and Home, Everybody's Weekly, The Tribute, The Morning Post, The Royal Magazine to name just a few. From book covers and advertisements to Christmas cards and calendars, Gladys produced a vast array of work. Even finding the time to design costumes and scenery for the Palace Girls at the Kings Theatre. The delicate art of Gladys Peto had a touch of brightness and light mixed with arch humour. Her work was a great favourite amongst the armed forces during WW1. The children's books that she wrote and illustrated were often described as charming tales. She understood children and wrote the stories with humour, imagination and a refreshing touch of originality. Gladys travelled extensively with her husband Colonel Cuthbert Lindsay Emerson who worked in the Royal Army Medical Corps. which aided in her writing of two notable travel books on Malta and Cyprus, Egypt and the Sojourner. Retiring from commercial life during 1946, Gladys moved to Northern Ireland with her husband and continued to paint, predominately landscapes in watercolours.


The arrangement of the descriptions reflects where possible the format of materials in the Gladys Peto archives.

Access Information

Contact the Special Collections Manager, University of Chichester, Bishop Otter Campus, College Lane, Chichester, PO19 6PE. Tel: 01243 816087 Email:

Acquisition Information

The collection was given to the University as a kind donation from the family of Gladys Peto.

Other Finding Aids

An Access Database is available for a more detailed search of the records.

Archivist's Note

The description was prepared by Cheryl Hubbard and Janet Carter.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction of these documents is at the discretion of the Special Collections Manager and is subject to copyright.

Appraisal Information

All the archives have been transferred to the University of Chichester and have now been preserved.


It is possible that further documents will be found and added to this collection.