Myers Literary Guide:
The North-East


Githa , like her sister (Amy) Millicent Sowerby (1878-1967), was born into the Gateshead glass-making Sowerby dynasty. They were the daughters of John G. Sowerby, the successful painter and illustrator, who, in 1871 became the manager of the glass-making concern. Sowerby had connections with the Arts and Crafts Movement. The site of the long-lived glassworks is now occupied by a supermarket.

Millicent was a prolific artist and illustrator, still working on watercolours and flower paintings in her eighties. She had worked on the 1907 edition of Alice in Wonderland, Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses (1908) and illustrated Githa’s children’s books for over twenty years, in her Kate Greenaway style. She also produced thirty sets of Postcards for the Little Ones.

Sowerby took his family near to London in 1896. Githa moved to the capital in 1905 where she joined the Fabian Society and became linked with the women’s suffrage movement. She married John Kendall who wrote for Punch under the pen-name of Dumdum.

Githa’s children’s books included: Cinderella, The Bumbletones, The Merry Book and The Dainty Book among others. She drew on personal experience in her well-received play of 1912 Rutherford and Sons, which was revived at the Manchester Exchange in 2005. Her comedy Before Breakfast (1912) was followed by A Man and Some Women (1914), Sheila (1917) and The Stepmother (1924). A plaque to Githa is projected for Gateshead in 2009.

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