1895 - 1977
Edward Shenton was an illustrator, author, editor, poet, and teacher. He was born in Pottstown, Pa. November 29, 1895 and grew up in West Philadelphia where he attended high school. At age 13 he was confined to his home for two years with an illness that gave him time to read and teach himself to draw. Most of his drawings were of medieval knights in armor. Returning to school he became the editor of his high school magazine and yearbook, where he contributed both in writing and illustrating. He began studies at the Museum School of Art in 1916 but dropped out in 1917 when he and his brother joined the 103rd Engineers, AEF and served in France during World War I. His drawings from the front lines were published in The Philadelphia Record in 1919. On return, he enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where his teachers included illustrators Thorton Oakley, George Harding both from the original classes of Howard Pyle. In 1922 he won the Lee Prize and later two Cresson Traveling Scholarships to study in Paris in 1923-24.
After returning from Paris, instead of continuing his art, he turned to writing and became an editor at Penn Publishing Co. where he wrote his first novel The Gray Beginning. He then moved on to Macrae-Smith Publishing Co. as editor and vice president. Here he had the opportunity to see the book publishing business from start to finish and he wrote his second novel The Lean Twilight published by Scribners. Thus, began a long association with Scribners, a major publisher, and with the well-known editor Maxwell Perkins. By 1931, Shenton became the "captive illustrator" of the popular Scribner's monthly magazine where he produced 30 to 40 drawings as well as the magazine cover each month. He also had the good fortune to illustrate such prestigious books as F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night, Ernest Hemingway's Green Hills of Africa, and works of Robinson Jeffers, Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, and Alan Villiers. In 1935, he won the O. Henry Short Story Prize for his memories from World War I. By 1938, Shenton produced what were considered his best known drawings for Marjorie Rawlings' The Yearling. Beginning in the 1940's he concentrated on making drawings for some 10 different publishers of juvenile fiction for over 100 books. Among those were a series of books of war aircraft Alphabet of Aviation and On Wings for Freedom which he both wrote and illustrated.

Continuing as editor for Macrae-Smith he also taught illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts one day a week to, as he said, "to keep from falling into the rut that lies in wait for all illustrators". While commuting by train to Philadelphia and at other odd times Shenton wrote over 75 articles and poems for the Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, Colliers, and Atlantic Monthly. Two of his longer poems for the Post were set to music in a patriotic cantata and performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1953 and issued on Columbia Records. During this period he also found time to produce two 20-foot by 12-foot murals for the Chapel of the War Memorial Cemetery at Saint-James in Brittany, France depicting the invasion of Normandy in WW II.
click to return