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Ethel Fanny Everett

by | Mar 14, 2022 | Church Road, People, Village Folk | 14 comments

Above is Mullion Cottage at the top of Church Road as you might not have seen it before. Mullion used to be two cottages with a shop in the middle. The shop at the time of this photograph was Hicks’ Butchers, and the Hicks family lived in the cottage on the right of the picture.

The cottage on the left was lived in by Ethel Fanny Everett and her brother. And Ethel was an artist.

May Hicks painted by Ethel Everett, IllustratorTo the left is a painting of May Hicks that was done by Ethel. According to the obituary below, Ethel and her brother moved to Chrishall during the war and she obviously delighted in living in the country. She would call the Hicks children in to see her ‘visitors’ which were the wild mice that ran along the back of her armchair!

Ethel was born in London and educated at the Mary Datchelor School, a grammar school for girls in Camberwell, before entering the Royal Academy Schools. She was a portrait painter of children and illustrator of children’s books from 1900 to 1939. So it seems she may have moved to Chrishall when she retired.

Ethel’s work is easy to find online and she must have been a well-known and prolific illustrator in her day. In 1911 The Daily Chronicle, a London newspaper, produced copies of A Christmas Carol as hardback books and Ethel provided the illustrations. The adverts for the book in the newspaper carried Ethel’s name as well as the author, Charles Dickens! She also did illustrations for Charles Kingsley’s Water Babies, and Enid Blyton’s ‘Gold and Silver’.

London Underground

As well as illustrating many childrens books and painting portraits, Ethel produced posters for London Underground, one of which was ‘Escape to quietude’ in 1914. We are grateful to London Transport Museum for allowing us to publish this image.

© TfL from the London Transport Museum collection

Exhibitions and Portraits

As I said previously, Ethel was also a childrens’ portrait painter. There is a particularly lovely portrait of ‘Lilian Violet’ from 1891 on Artnet:

Ethel also staged her own exhibitions. In the Eastbourne Gazette of July 1935 it is reported that “Miss Ethel Everett has converted the Saffron Rooms into a delightful picture gallery with grouped plants and palms in the centre, and the walls hung with an exhibition of her work which all art lovers must see this week”. You can see what the Saffron Rooms look like on the outside here:


When Ethel died on 30th August 1951 at St James’ Hospital, Saffron Walden, Angela Jeans from Arkesden wrote the following obituary for her:

Ethel Everett – artist, writer and poet – whose beautiful character made itself felt with every living thing with which she came into contact, has passed from a world in which she seemed never entirely to belong. The familiar figure – tall and elegant – moving through the streets of Walden with such slow dignity, as she leant on her brother’s arm, has become a memory, as also her young face and strangely vital eyes.

How many people, I wonder – beyond her intimate friends – knew the extent of her achievements? Upon four occasions her pictures were hung “on the line” in the Royal Academy. The first to be exhibited was one depicting the famous Dickensian character “Tiny Tim”.

Among her best known portraits – also exhibited in the Royal Academy – was one of Mr Garfield Weston and his family (the famous biscuit manufacturer and millionaire). She wrote and illustrated the book entitled, “Old-Fashioned Girls”*. She illustrated “The Water Babies”, and an early work of Enid Blyton’s, “Gold and Silver” and many others. She held several private shows of her pictures in London, and became a member of the Saffron Walden Art Society after moving to Chrishall during the war. It was at one of this Society’s exhibitions that her work was last seen.

(*note: she illustrated this book but did not write it).

Ethel’s deeply religious soul found further outlet in composing hymns, and I have chosen the following verse from one that she sent me as reflecting much of the essence of her life:-

I have no wish apart from Thee
No longer, no desire;
O let Thy Spirit dwell in me,
And all my life inspire.

From the tiny window of her cottage in Chrishall, she used to watch the swallows in the Autumn, getting ready to leave, “skimming around with their pointed wings.” And now the time has come again when they are preparing to depart, but she who loved them and saw them as “notes of music” as they rested on the telegraph wires, has herself gone on before; but – unlike the swallows – she will not return.

Ethel Everett gravestoneYou can visit Ethel Everett’s grave as she is buried at Chrishall Church, her grave is marked with a tall elegant stone cross.

And if you want to search for more of her work online, simply search for Ethel Everett, Illustrator, and many of her lovely pictures will come up.



  1. Marchia

    I have some original paintings and drawings she did. Would anyone be interested in seeing them?

    • Rosemarie Gant

      We would love to see them Marchia. Are you able to send us some photographs or are you nearby? Please email me, and we can arrange something. How exciting!

      • Susanna Bewick

        I inherited two pastel portraits of my father and aunt, painted in 1906 for my grandmother, Else Headlam-Morley. Both Ethel and Else lived in Wimbledon at the time. The portraits are unsigned but we have recently discovered a letter from Ethel to my grandmother quoting to paint pastel portraits of her two children so we have every reason to believe these could be by her. Does this seem likely to you? I can send you photographs …

        • Rosemarie Gant

          That sounds lovely Susanna and seems extremely likely to me. Photographs would be great – thank you.

        • Marchia Condon

          Hi.. I have 5 drawings by her, can I see yours. Mine are singed.. I’ll email mine to you as well…
          How interesting..

    • Teresa Everett

      I would love to see your collection. This is my great Aunt. My grandfather was her brother.

  2. Robin Michael Healey

    I own some original art work by Ethel for the various books she illustrated, plus some Christmas cards she sent to friends I also have some illustrations for a book of poems that she created but which wasn’t published. For the last ten years or more I have been collecting material for an exhibition on her life and work, both in London and Chrishall. This has entailed a good deal of research, but I am anxious to add to what I have already collected and so I was delighted to discover this online tribute to her.

    • Rosemarie Gant

      That sounds amazing Robin – please keep in touch with us about the exhibition as we would love to promote it here.

  3. Hilary Denham

    Very pleased to find this page, having just bought a copy of Old-Fashioned Girls, beautifully illustrated by Ethel Everett, from a local charity shop (in Leeds, Yorkshire). I’d never heard of her before, but love the illustrations, and I’m delighted to learn more about her. Thank you!

    • Rosemarie Gant

      Oh that was a good find Hilary – I bet it is lovely!

  4. Duncan Wood

    I was fascinated to come across this story of Ethel Everett. She was my father’s cousin and
    I remember her staying with my Grandparents, Thomas and Emily Wood at Hill Farm Elmdon near the beginning of the war – I’m guessing about 1941 or 42 and can remember her painting a white Dutch Iris. Her brother Percy was known in those days as “simple”. I have one of her personally designed birthday cards from when I was 7 or 8.
    She was related to the Stokes family on my grandmother’s side and one of the Stokes painted landscapes and Grandma Wood had as a child/teenager won a prize for her art and I remember there were a couple of chalk pictures of churches that she had done as a young woman. She had been born in Islington, qualified as a teacher and taught at a school near Lincoln. I assume that she then moved down to the Chrishall/Chishill area, where she met my grandfather, Thomas Josiah Wood. They moved to Elmdon and are both buried in St Swithun’s churchyard.

    • Rosemarie Gant

      Thank you so much for that Duncan. I had wondered why Ethel headed out this way. Was it Percy that she lived with in Chrishall do you know?

      • Duncan Wood

        Yes I’m pretty sure that it would have been Percy. He certainly wasn’t capable of caring for himself.

        • Rosemarie Gant

          Bless him – well I’m glad we have named him at least.


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