Florence Mary Anderson, 1889-1945, the children's illustrator and writer was born at Greenock, Scotland.
In 1908, at the age of 19, Florence Anderson applied to attend afternoon classes in drawing and painting at the Glasgow School of Art. The formal art training she acquired in Glasgow provided Florence with a foundation on which she could develop her interpretative skills as an author and illustrator. Having completed her studies at Glasgow, she won a scholarship for a year’s course in drawing and painting at Bradford College of Art.
Her studies completed, she joined a group of artists and writers, each with their own subject specialty, who regularly contributed to Little Folks and other titles in Cassell’s range of periodical publications. She also began working for Simpkin Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co, initially on a cover and 16 signed full-color plates for The Dream Peddler by Lady Margaret Sackville.
Early success brought her work to the attention of other publishers and further opportunities to illustrate children’s books came her way throughout the War period. After the War, illustration commissions continued, including: The Rainbow Twins, which she wrote and illustrated, published by Joseph Johnson in 1919; and The Password to Fairyland (1920) by Elizabeth Southwart. These were her most productive years.
It is no coincidence that all the books illustrated by Anderson were written by women. Contemporary women children’s authors and their publishers favored her unthreatening and delicate touch.
From 1923 Anderson lived by the River Thames at Strand-on-the Green, Chiswick, where she belonged to the Chiswick Group of Artists and earned a living from her landscape paintings, portraits, teaching and designing and selling greetings cards. Sadly, by the mid-1920s her career as a book illustrator was all but over, although she tried to generate more interest in her work. She visited the Swiss Alps on several occasions and exhibited her work in London galleries including the Beaux Arts Gallery in 1928. Until almost the end of her career, Anderson was exclusively an illustrator of folk lore and fairy tales.
Art historians and writers have frequently confused or conflated this artist with the illustrator and stage designer, Florence Mary "Molly" MacArthur (1893-1972), whose married name was Anderson, and whose illustrations are roughly contemporary with Anderson's. However, MacArthur always seems to have used her maiden name professionally.