Victoria and Albert Museum: Archive of Art and Design
Introduction and summary description
Helen Madeline McKie was born on the 11th October 1889 in London. She was educated at Tiffin Girls School, Kingston on Thames, and Lambeth School of Art, where she studied composition and painting under Philip Connard. She then became an illustrator and permanent member of staff to 'Bystander' magazine from 1915-1929. She was also a contributing artist to The Graphic, Sphere, Autocar, and Queen publications. In 1919 she exhibited at Brock Street Art Gallery, and in 1928 at Walkers Galleries, where Queen Mary purchased a picture. She also exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1934-1936 and at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1936. McKie became well known for her drawings of military figures during World War I, and corresponded with soldiers in active service across the world. In 1931, she paid a visit to the Brown House, Munich when on the strength of a letter of introduction to Hitler, was allowed to sketch Nazi officials. During World War II, she was commissioned by Lord Lloyd to make sketches of Navy personnel and warships. In 1943, she painted 'The Upper War Room' at Admiralty, Whitehall for presentation to Sir Winston Churchill, who was in the picture. She produced commissioned work for the Southern Railway, including two paintings of Waterloo Station in 1943 and 1948, and the decoration of two coaches for a continental boat train 'SS Brittany'. She also wrote and illustrated an article for the coronation edition of Country Life magazine in 1953. Mural designs were designed and painted by McKie for amongst others; the Ritz Hotel in London, several Butlins holiday camps including a Bahamas resort, Ford motorcars, the French government Tourist Office, and Selfridges. Her published work includes illustrations for 'Beau Geste' (1924) 'My Secret London' (1932) and 'The Romance of London River' (1934). McKie lived and worked in Chelsea throughout her life, but travelled extensively with her work. She remained unmarried and spent many of her later years with her sister Kitty Fraser. She died in February 1957.
Personal papers (1896-1957); Additional papers collected by John Fraser (1889-2004); Paintings and drawings (1904- 1954); Published illustrations (1924-1953) Photographs (1902- 1957) Press cuttings (1909-2000) Ephemera (1908-1948).
Gift of John Fraser, nephew of Helen McKie, 2005
General information on access to material in the Archive of Art and Design is available on the archive pages of the NAL website.
|Personal papers, 1896-1957|
|Reference: AAD/2005/5/1 to AAD/2005/5/10|
|Extent: 10 files|
|Papers relating to her early life, personal and business letters including correspondence with military personnel and Winston Churchill, and general personal papers which include collected cards, sketches, exhibition material, account records, copy of will, passports and pages from diaries.|
|AAD/2005/5/1||Papers relating to her early
Includes bank book, handwriting copy book and examination scripts, certificates and papers for Cambridge University exams, Royal Drawing Society and Lambeth School of Art certificates, Tiffin Girls School report and magazine, and Personal Diary (1902)
Personal letters sent and received by McKie; from family members, friends and associates. Includes postcards, some illustrated by McKie
|AAD/2005/5/3||Correspondence and personal
Correspondence with business associates and personal correspondence with family and friends. Personal papers include pencil sketches and sketch books, drafts of 'humorous' verse, travel documents, invitations to events and event programmes and menus, examination certificates, school reports, house insurance documents, removals list of furniture and belongings, post office saving book, account records (1914-1947) and copy of will. Also diary notes and pages from diaries (1917-1953)
|AAD/2005/5/4||Business and personal
correspondence with related papers
Correspondence primarily with business associates relating to commissioned work. Also personal correspondence with family and friends - including postcards. Related papers include income tax forms and receipts, sketches and sketch book of trip to Bahamas (1950), exhibition catalogues, lists of work completed, draft ideas for texts, transcript of interview, 'World Biography' entry, and list of figures included in painting of Waterloo Station.
Collected letters received by McKie from military personnel; requesting copies of military drawings, thanking McKie for receipt of drawings, and commenting on drawings printed in 'Bystander' magazine. Most were sent during World War I by men in active service in the UK and overseas. Includes sent photographs.
|AAD/2005/5/6||Papers relating to 'The Upper
War Room' - painting of Winston Churchill
Includes notes on the painting by McKie, correspondence between McKie, Churchill and his private secretary, and Churchill's tie worn in the painting.
|AAD/2005/5/7||Collected cards and
Printed Christmas and greetings cards with illustrations by McKie - many feature drawings of the Fraser family. Papers include list of work completed, exhibition invitations and catalogues, sketches, event programmes with signed menus and 'A touring company: Some of the Principals' - drawings of British journalists trip to Italy (1920)
Includes dance card, drivers licence, event programme, post office savings book and four passports
|AAD/2005/5/9||McKie family tree
Poster of McKie family tree
|AAD/2005/5/10||Book of poetry given to
'Poems' by the Baroness Clifton and inscribed by the author to McKie
|Additional papers collected by John Fraser, 1889-2004|
|Reference: AAD/2005/5/11 to AAD/2005/5/16|
|Extent: 6 files|
|Papers collected by John Fraser, nephew of Helen McKie. Includes condolence letters, collected magazine illustrations, and general papers containing correspondence, McKie's birth certificate, obituaries and collected articles.|
|AAD/2005/5/11||Letters received after the death
Condolence letters sent to Kitty Fraser, sister of McKie, after the death of McKie in February 1957. Includes letters sent to other members of the Fraser family and cards from memorial flowers.
|AAD/2005/5/12||Illustrated articles from 'The
Royal Magazine' collected by John Fraser
Photocopied articles from 'The Royal Magazine' with illustrations by McKie
|1913 April-1928 May|
|AAD/2005/5/13 .||Illustrated articles from
'Pearson's Magazine' collected by John Fraser
Photocopied articles from 'Pearson's Magazine' with illustrations by McKie
|1915 August -1928 June|
|AAD/2005/5/14||Illustrated articles from 'The
London Magazine' collected by John Fraser
Photocopied articles from 'The London Magazine' with illustrations by McKie
|1922 October -1928 January|
|AAD/2005/5/15||Various papers collected by John
Papers collected by John Fraser that relate to the life of McKie; include estate agent advertisements and papers for her former home, McKie's birth certificate, family trees, obituaries for McKie, entry's from 'The Labour Who's Who' (1927) and 'Who's Who in Art' (1929 and 1934), correspondence relating to her work from John Fraser (1980-1996), photocopies of McKie's correspondence with Churchill and relevant pages of her newscutting scrapbook. Includes a copy of Churchill's hand-written message to McKie inside the first pages of his book. The papers also include an illustrated article from 'The Graphic' concerning McKie's sketches of Nazi officials (1931), illustrated pages from 'Postcard Monthly', examples of work by artist Lillian Hocknell, and other articles.
Two posters of McKie's paintings reprinted by the National Railway Museum, and collected by John Fraser: 'Waterloo Station - War' (1943) and 'Waterloo Station-Peace' (1948)
|Paintings and drawings, 1904-1954|
|Reference: AAD/2005/5/17 to AAD/2005/5/23|
|Extent: 7 files|
|Paintings, ink drawings and pencil sketches by McKie of family members, friends and associates and other subjects. Includes sketch books, illustration book and two separate pictures.|
|AAD/2005/5/17||Paintings and drawings of family
Paintings, ink drawings and pencil sketches of family members by McKie; includes pictures of her mother Anne Wernham and father Douglas McKie, her brother Douglas McKie and sister Kitty Fraser, nephews Allan, John and Douglas Fraser and members of the extended Fraser and Wernham families
|AAD/2005/5/18||Paintings and drawings of
friends and associates
Paintings, ink drawings and pencil sketches of friends and associates by McKie; includes pictures of Betty Clifton, Maurice Firmin, Gordon Young, Stefan Meyer, Mary Leverson, Sir Charles Igglesden, students at Lambeth Art School, and a painting of McKie and her Chelsea neighbours with humorous verse attached.
|AAD/2005/5/19||Paintings and drawings of
Paintings, ink drawings and pencil sketches of various subjects by McKie; includes self portraits, ink drawing from the 'Bystander' of 'Helen & Blanche', ink drawings of 'Lambeth celebrities', painting of famous war figures with verse, pencil drawing in Warsaw, pictures of London churches and Caldecot house. Also includes untitled drawings and 'humorous' verse
1 bound volume
Unpublished illustration book with pictures by McKie entitled 'An ABC of types - very humbly dedicated to the Hon. Dorothy'. Illustrations are an A-Z list of occupations with colour painted drawings.
Two sketch books of McKie's drawings. One contains sketches of various subjects, the other is primarily notes and drawings relating to Ford motorcars.
Pencil drawing by McKie entitled 'Warsaw from the banks of the Vistola'
Framed pencil portrait by McKie of Baroness Elizabeth Clifton of Leighton-Bromswold. Exhibited at Paris Salon, 1934
|Published illustrations, 1924-1953|
|Reference: AAD/2005/5/24 to AAD/2005/5/31|
|Extent: 8 files|
|Illustrations by McKie published in magazines, pamphlets and books. Includes 'Country Life' magazine for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and books Beau Geste, The romance of London river, and My Secret London.|
Special edition of 'Country Life' magazine for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, June 1953. Features an article 'Some coronation uniforms' written and illustrated by McKie.
1848-1948: Waterloo Station
Pamphlet detailing one hundred years in the life of Waterloo station, with illustrations by McKie.
War on the Line by
Bernard Darwin Book
Book: 'War on the Line' by Bernard Darwin Book about the story of the Southern railway in war-time, which features McKie's painting of Waterloo Station.
The romance of London
Book about the Thames river with illustrations by McKie
Ford at War by
Hilary St. George
Book about Ford motorcars production during World War II, with illustrations by McKie
Beau Geste by
A war novel with black and white, and colour illustrations by McKie
My secret London by
A series of stories about London with illustrations by McKie.
By way of Rome &
Naples by Helen McKie
Travel pamphlet about Italy, written and illustrated by McKie.
|Reference: AAD/2205/5/32 to AAD/2005/5/34|
|Extent: 3 files|
|Portrait photographs of McKie throughout her life, photographs of her family and friends, and photographs of her significant work.|
|AAD/2005/5/32||Photograph album of McKie,
family and friends
1 bound volume
Portraits of McKie taken throughout her life, at work and on her travels, including photographs taken for newspaper articles about her. Also includes photographs of her family and friends, photographs of portraits exhibited at Paris Salon 1934-36, and other photographs of her work
|AAD/2005/5/33||Photograph Album of McKie,
family and friends
1 bound volume
Photographs of members of McKie's family and friends. Includes many of McKie and others on foreign travel. Photographs have been labelled in detail.
|AAD/2005/5/34||Photographs of work by
Includes photographs of: paintings for the Southern railway - pictures of Southampton and Waterloo station, Waterloo station centenary exhibition, mural paintings for Butlins holiday camps and other hotels, paintings for the French government tourist office, pictures of military figures, views of Ford motorcars, Dagenham, and the opening of the Ford mural, Mckie with painting of Churchill, work for Moss Bros. Ltd and Selfridges, work in the Bahamas, drawings for 'Bystander' and adverts for the 'Daily Sketch'.
|Press cuttings, 1909-2000|
|Reference: AAD/2005/5/35 to AAD/2005/5/36|
|Extent: 2 files|
|Press cuttings collected and indexed by McKie relating to her work - one original scrapbook, one photocopied scrapbook. Also additional cuttings collected by John Fraser after her death|
|AAD/2005/5/35||Scrap and newscutting
1 bound volume
Press cuttings collected by McKie from 1910-1943, and indexed A-Z. All relate to her work, many are reviews. Includes exhibition catalogues and printed illustrations. Also includes cuttings collected by John Fraser after her death from 1958-2000
|AAD/2005/5/36||Photocopied scrap and
Photocopy of press cuttings scrapbook - the original was kept by John Fraser. Cuttings relate to McKie's work, including her painting of Churchill, exhibitions, commissions, 'Ford at War' illustrations, and article for Country Life magazine. Also includes cuttings kept after her death - obituaries and related articles
|Reference: AAD/2005/5/37 to AAD/2005/5/46|
|Extent: 7 files|
|Additional items which relate to McKie's work, includes; posters and postcards of her illustrations, tea-towel and playing cards with illustration designs, Royal Drawing Society medal and metal and wooden printing blocks.|
Four posters of McKie's paintings reprinted by the National Railway Museum; 'Waterloo Station - War' (1943) 1 copy, and 'Waterloo Station -Peace' (1948)
Advertisement poster for event at Royal Court Theatre, with illustrations by McKie
Two printed postcards of 'Waterloo Station - Peace' by McKie, and 3 printed postcards of 'Westminster Abbey and Two choristers' by McKie
Linen tea-towel with design by McKie
4 sets of playing cards with designs by McKie, entitled 'The Foxtrot', 'The Minuet', 'Yesterday' and 'Today'. The cards are in two sets in two boxes.
Medal presented to McKie from the Royal Drawing Society, her name is inscribed on the back.
Red wax-seal, on unidentified page of letter.
|AAD/2005/5/44||Business cards and
Box of business cards for McKie with metal printing plate, and small pencil. Also, unused letterhead paper with her Chelsea address.
Tobacco tin containing two metal printing blocks- for McKie's studio address and her telephone number.
3 wooden printing blocks of McKie's illustrations - a military figure, the Fraser family (for Christmas card) and a military figure with Christmas message.