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Blanche McManus (Mansfield)
with reference to her husband:
Francis Miltoun (Milburg Francisco Mansfield)
Additional information has come to light
Little is known regarding the writer/artist Blanche McManus, except that she was born on Talladega Plantation,1 in East Feliciania Parish, Louisiana, in 1870, studied in London and Paris, and returned to the U.S. in 1893 when she established a studio in Chicago2. By 1895, she was authoring and illustrating a series of children's books, including The True Mother Goose (1895), The Voyage of the Mayflower (1897) and How the Dutch came to Manhattan (1897)3. In those same years, she was producing illustrations for other authors books, often working on three or four books at one time.
Around 1900, she travelled with writer/husband, Francis Miltoun (Milburg Francisco Mansfield), throughout Europe and North Africa. Their collaboration led to a series of travel books, fully illustrated by McManus. M. F. Mansfield was a writer and and had an apparently short-lived (ca. 1897 to ca 1900) publishing house [M. F. Mansfield and Co., later to be known as M. F. Mansfield and A. Wessels.]3 The couple is probably best known for a series of illustrated travel books which incorporated the newly invented automobile within a typical travelog of the period. Blanche McManus' sketches and water colors of the people they met and views of architectural/natural scenes adds an interesting element to the books.
She and her husband lived in Paris when not travelling, and Blanche McManus continued illustrating for publishers back in the United States. Little is known about the rest of the Mansfield's time together. Research1 has shown that Blanche McManus was in Toulin, France, in 1911 by the signing of a book contract (for The American Woman Abroad) which was witnessed by her husband. A power of attorney was sent by Blanche McManus from Nice, France, in the 1910s, to her sister in Louisiana. From her newspaper death notice4, we know she died at an infirmary in new Orleans June 19, 1935, and was survived by her husband and sister. She is buried in the family cemetery just outside Woodville, LA.
From the list of works outlined below, Blanche McManus appears to have worked with 3 primary publishers, E.R. Herrick & Co., M.F. Mansfield & Co (later M.F. Mansfield & A. Wessels), and L. C. Page & Co., with the odd book put out by other publishing houses. Both Mansfields must have kept their American publishing contacts while abroad in Europe, as L.C. Page & Co. hired them for a total of 25 books between 1903 and 1927 (23 of these books would be published between 1903 and 1912). The last 2 books appear to be a reissuing of Rambles in Normandy and Rambles in Brittany, but that is unconfirmed as of this writing.
1. Research information prepared by Anne Riley Jones, Louisiana, a volunteer researcher for Kellscraft Studio.
Margolin, Victor. The Golden Age of the American
Poster. NY: Ballantine Books. 1976. Pg. 29.
3. Information gathered from the Library of Congress website. This was compiled by an author search of the on-line catalog for Blanche McManus and Milburg Francisco Mansfield.
4. From: The Woodville Republican, Saturday, June 22, 1935:
"MRS. BLANCHE McMANUS MANSFIELD
Mrs. Blanche McManus Mansfield died at an infirmary in New Orleans on Wednesday night June 19 and her remains were brought here for interment the following afternoon in the family cemetery at the McManus home. Rev. T. B. Clifford, rector of the Episcopal church here, officiated at the service which was attended by many of her old friends. in this her girlhood home.
An artist of international fame, a writer of charming books of travel which have been widely read, Mrs. Mansfield was, beyond question, the most distinguished of Wilkinson county's daughters. Born in the family home just outside of Woodville she showed unmistakable signs of exceptional talent early in her life. After reaching young womanhood she studied art in New Orleans and Chicago. The designs she submitted for illustrating the prayerbook of the English church at the time of the celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in London in 1897 were selected in an international contest of artists, an honor of which the people of her state were justly proud. Going abroad to continue her artistic career she met and married Mr. Mansfield, an American diplomat and writer of ability who was consul both at Barcelona, Spain and Marsailles, France for a period of years. Subsequently she and her husband made Paris their home and during the World War did much philanthropic work among the French and the American soldiers there. Thus in this cosmopolitan life her experiences were unusual and interesting. She portrayed many of them by word and by illustration in her "An American Woman Abroad" and in her successful series for children, "Our Little Cousins." She is survived by her husband and by one sister, Mrs. Grace Walsh, of McManus, La., and of Woodville. Her other sister, Miss Verona McManus, died several years ago."
Chronological Publishing History of Books Authored/Illustrated by Blanche McManus and Francis Miltoun:
Note: * - Additional titles provided by the Rare Book Dept., Boston Public Library, 2004.
Many of these books may have only been cover design illustrations by Blanche McManus.
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