< Gouverneur Stories — Edwin John Prittie, American Illustrator

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Born in Gouverneur in 1879, Edwin John Prittie's illustrations are still recognized as some of the most well-known works of "popular culture" in the early 20th Century. From book series to magazine illustrations to bubble gum trading cards, Prittie's work is filled with action, color and a style that is his own.

 

Everyone in the North Country and beyond has heard of Canton, NY's favorite son, Frederic Remington (1861-1909) the artist and illustrator. Edwin John Prittie was born on July 11, 1879, in Gouverneur and attended Gouverneur schools, graduating in 1898 in a class of 11. Remington was his hero. 

 

Prittie attended the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art in 1898, remaining in Philadelphia where he spent his career as a freelance artist. He also held a second home in Oswego NY.

 

Once Upon a Time... in the last century, there was no such thing as "Adolescent Literature." No books like The Hunger Games and no authors like Beverly Cleary or Stephanie Meyers. 

 

Books aimed at young people were books for adults, with appeal for young people; books like Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (1877,) Alice In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (1865,) Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (1883,) and Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726.)

These classic stories and many more, were made very popular in 1920, when John C. Winston's publishing company (later known as Holt, Reinhard and Winston) published a series of books for young people. Winston hired well-known artist, Edwin John Prittie to illustrate the series. A major part of the charm of this series were Prittie's wonderful, action-filled illustrations.

 

Edwin John Prittie, already a well-recognized illustrator was the primary contributor of covers, interior plates, and ink drawings for Winston’s “Classics Series” throughout the 1920s and ’30s.

 

Throughout his life "Eddie" Prittie had many wonderful projects. Prittie illustrated magazine covers, book series and even trading cards for bubble gum packaging. He was a true working artist who raised a family and retired to Oswego, NY. He passed away two years after a dibilitating stroke in 1960,and died on February 20, 1963, at the age of 83.

 

For more information and details about this Gouverneur Native Son, read these two articles, written by Edwin John Prittie's grandson, John L. Prittie. The first comes from Illustration Magazine. The other, also written by John L. Prittie is compiled from: "original personal and historical documents belonging to the artist; and oral family history, of which the author attests, within that context, the accuracy."

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