UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Olive Allen, 1879-1957

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1879.10.17
Place of Birth: Ormskirk, Lancs
Date of Death: 1957.10.15
Place of Death: Vancouver, Canada

Identity:

Olive Allen was a painter and illustrator. She married John Biller in 1912 and emigrated to Canada shortly afterwards.

Life:

Allen studied at the Liverpool Art School, the Lambeth School of Art, London, and at the Slade School of Art from 1900.

Biller became a prolific illustrator of children's magazines, books and Christmas annuals. The majority of her work was for T. C. and E. C. Jack of London. Her professional career as an illustrator more-or-less ended after her marriage but she continued to paint and exhibit, evolving an expressionistic style that focused on landscape subjects.

Allen would have been an art student when she wrote to JW from Cornwall in 1898 hoping to secure his autograph with an amusing poem. His autograph joined a huge collection of autographs, with poems and illustrations, in an album that is still in the family. She appears to have been a regular visitor to Cornwall as she is recorded there in the 1901 Census.

Publications containing her illustrations include Johnson, E., Fact and Fable London, 1901; Edgeworth, M., The Birthday Present, London, 1908; and Sinclair, C., Holiday House, London, [1908?].

Bibliography:

UK Census 1901; Willis, Michael D., 'Olive Allen Biller,' The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 15 October 2003).