Cicely Mary Barker Biography

 

This is a Biography of Cicley Mary Barker who was the creator of the Flower Fairies. Cicely Mary Barker was a popular, children’s book author, illustrator and British artist, born June 28, 1895 in Croydon, Surrey, England.

As Cicely Mary Barker suffered from epilepsy as a child, she was unable to go to school, so was educated at home where her creative drawing and writing skills were nurtured and developed at such an early age.  At 13, Cicely was enrolled at Croydon Art Society and at the age of 16 was elected a Life Member, the youngest person ever to receive such an honour.

Four of Cicely Mary Barker’s works were bought and published by the stationery printer, Raphael Tuck in 1911 when Cicely was only 15.  This opened up the doors to her work being sold to magazines, greeting card manufactures, then at greater lengths to book publishers.  This was a welcome relief to Cicely as her Father’s untimely death in 1912, left her family (mother and older sister Dorothy) in financial difficulty.  Dorothy was on a small teaching salary, not enough to provide the support they needed.

In 1923 Cicely Mary Barker’s flower fairy illustrations and verses were published.  These were the “Flower Fairies of the Spring”, the first of the flower fairy series. This was to be the catalyst to the creation of her widely acclaimed flower fairy series of books.

Cicely Mary Barker’s fairy paintings became hugely popular, especially loved by Queen Mary who frequently sent postcards to friends; notably the illustrations of “Elves and Fairies” which were published in 1918.

Cicely always used real-life models to create her beautiful paintings.  Her sister Dorothy ran a kindergarten in the back room of their house; the same house Cicely Mary had a studio built in the garden. These little children became her much loved models, holding a flower, twig or blossom of a fairy.  This provided her with the accuracy she needed to depict the shape, texture and form of the plant, changing only the size to match that of the child.  She would often receive visits from staff at Kew Gardens who would provide her with specimens for her to paint.

Cicely Mary Barker was a deeply religious person and retained a strong Christian Faith throughout her life. She painted many religious works, including illustrated Bible Stories which was written with her sister Dorothy.  Despite her success she remained a quiet, modest figure and was able to continue to paint until her eyesight deteriorated in her later years.  Cicely continued her involvement with the Croydon School of Art where she was also teaching.  Cicely Mary Barker died February 16, in 1973 at 77 years of age, the same year she celebrated the 50th Anniversary of her first published flower fairies book, “Flower Fairies of the Spring.”

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