Horseman, Marie Compston (Mollie) (1911 - 1974)
Birth: 9 December 1911, Rochester, Victoria, Australia
Death: 7 May 1974, Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia [Ref. 51675/1974]
Cultural Heritage: English Occupation: cartoonist illustrator landscape artist painter
HORSEMAN, MARIE COMPSTON (1911-1974), cartoonist and illustrator, was born on 9 December 1911 near Rochester, Victoria, daughter of Frederick Ernest Horseman, farmer, and his wife Katherine Marie Compston, née Miller, migrants from Yorkshire, England. Mollie grew up in Melbourne. Her parents having amicably separated, in 1924 her mother took her to Sheffield, England, and on to Germany. While Katherine managed a canteen for the British Army on the Rhine, Mollie was enrolled at a finishing school for young ladies. Speaking no German, she communicated mainly by drawing fellow students (and pictures of castles on the Rhine).
On returning to Australia two years later she cheekily advertised as a 'German-speaking governess' and was briefly employed by Norman Lindsay and his wife Rose. At (East) Sydney Technical College she was one of a brilliant crop of late 1920s female students influenced by Rayner Hoff's vitalist, 'life force' ideas to create sculptures, paintings and (especially) cartoons unprecedented in their uninhibited sexuality. Mollie later called Lindsay and Hoff two of the three great influences on her life—a rather backhanded compliment as it was made in Man magazine, renowned for its salacious cartoons, many drawn by her.
Financial problems forced Mollie to leave the college before completing her diploma. In 1929 she joined Smith's Weekly with Joan Morrison (1911-1969), who had been born in Kent, England, and was a sculpture graduate from the same college. The editor Frank Marien reportedly put them in a room with a 'KEEP OUT' sign on the door. They called themselves 'The Smith's Sisters' and occasionally drew cartoons jointly. 'Joan and Molly, the “Smith's” sisters, are asked to do a strip' (21 July 1934) consists of five punning frames ending with them resigning, offended by the lewd suggestion. Smith's was unique in offering a living wage to about a dozen cartoonists and promoting their names, personae and creations in such pseudo-autobiographical group cartoons and caricatures, many wittily captioned by Ken Slessor .
Horseman and Morrison were the first Australian women to be celebrated for their adult cartoons. Tall, blonde and bouncy, Mollie was invariably depicted as towering over the entire art staff ('We had to bend her to get her into the picture'), including a self-caricature of 15 April 1933. Like most of her colleagues she adapted urban stereotypes from Punch, Lilliput and Esquire but usually gave them a local focus:
What was the party at Darlinghurst like last night? They sang 'God Save the Furniture'
(8 September 1934)
or an exuberant character bereft of malice or morals: AUNT: 'Why did your friend look so worried?' NIECE: 'She can't remember at whose cocktail party she left the baby'
(27 October 1934)
On 2 September 1931 at North Sydney registry office Horseman married William Longford Power, an articled clerk. They had a son, Roderick, before divorcing. On 8 June 1938 at Mosman Presbyterian Church she married Nelson Illingworth, company representative, grandson of the sculptor Nelson Illingworth. There were one son and three daughters of the marriage, which also ended in divorce. The family lived in Brisbane in the early 1940s, with Mollie freelancing. She painted murals on two railway carriages used by the Queensland government as travelling dental clinics, drew 'Fatto', 'Dora' and 'Tootles' for otherwise all-male comic books published by Frank Johnson in Sydney and contributed cartoons to Man, Woman's Mirror and Rydge's Business Journal.
From 1946 she worked for the Sydney production unit of the Brisbane Courier Mail. After Jean Cullen suicided, in the early 1950s Mollie took over her new comic strip about the teenager 'Pam' in the Sunday Mail and gave it a distinctively Australian character. Her best-known work, it ran for over eleven years and was widely syndicated. From 1957 she lived at Avalon with the children, drawing 'Pam' and other comics and cartoons and fashion and children's book illustrations. She painted nymphs, shepherds and other rococo fantasies for special evenings at Romano's nightclub. In the early 1960s she was staff artist on Everybody's magazine. Her numerous illustrations (either anonymous or signed 'Vanessa') included a weekly, full-page colour cartoon of the sexy Man type and the serial 'Girl Crusoe' (1964), a cheerful parody of the popular 'good girl cheesecake' comic. At the local jazz club on Saturday nights she played the lagerphone ('an Australian contrivance of bottle tops and broomsticks').
Horseman worked professionally for over forty years by enthusiastically embracing every opportunity. In 1963 Everybody's called her 'Australia's only woman cartoonist'. She was certainly the most visible. At their annual ball in 1956, her colleagues in the Australian Black and White Artists' Club 'smocked' her (presented her with an artist's smock decorated by fellow members) and she was later voted Sydney Savage Club 'Cartoonist of the Year'. In 1964 she was the only woman in a group photograph of forty-three professional cartoonists and one of nine women among 140 cartoonists in the survey exhibition Fifty Years of Australian Cartooning.
In 1967-69 she was back in Brisbane, illustrating books for Jacaranda Press, chiefly school readers. Then she settled in an old cottage in the Blue Mountains at Glenbrook, New South Wales, and continued freelance work, painting landscapes in oils as a hobby. In 1973 she was hit by a car. This accident led to a stroke that deprived her of speech and the use of her right hand. She taught herself to draw with her left and produced small abstracts with coloured pens. Horseman died on 7 May 1974 in the Blue Mountains Hospital, Katoomba, and was buried in the churchyard of St Thomas's Church of England, Mulgoa. The son of her first marriage, and one son and two daughters of her second, survived her.
Select Bibliography R. P. Power, ‘Marie Compston (Mollie) Hoseman’, in J. Kerr (ed), Heritage: The National Women’s Art Book (Syd, 1995).
Author: Joan Kerr Print Publication Details: Joan Kerr, 'Horseman, Marie Compston (Mollie) (1911 - 1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, Melbourne University Press, 2005, pp 186-187.
Felicity wrote to me on
Subject: Compston ancestors
A Compston descendent here: John Compston 1828 - 1889 (Herbert Fuller Bright's father) had a daughter Anne H who married a man with a hat shop in Rotherham called George Miller. Their daughter Katherine (Kit) Miller married Frederick Ernest Horseman (son of a farmer) and they emigrated to Australia. Their daughter (my grandmother) was Marie (Mollie) Compston Horseman who married William Longford Power. Their son was Roderick Packenham Power who married Elizabeth (Binkie) Langtry Stafford and had me Felicity (Felix) Ann Power.
Marie (Mollie) Compston Horseman had some success as a cartoonist and you can read about her in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
I'm not sure what her Baptist ancestors would have made of her!
Many thanks Felicity for sending me this wonderful history and photograph of Mollie and Bill and for helping me make this connection!
[See photograph opposite.]
I was able to put Felicity in touch with Judith Meare, a direct relative,
Horseman, Marie Compston (Mollie) (1911 - 1974)
Mollie Horseman worked professionally as a cartoonist and illustrator for over forty years. In 1963 Everybody's Magazine called her 'Australia's only woman cartoonist'. While this was obviously not the case, she was probably the most visible woman working in the field. At their annual ball in 1956, her colleagues in the Australian Black and White Artists' Club 'smocked' her (presented her with an artist's smock decorated by fellow members) and she was later voted Sydney Savage Club 'Cartoonist of the Year'. In 1964 she was the only woman in a group photograph of forty-three professional cartoonists and one of nine women among 140 cartoonists in the survey exhibition Fifty Years of Australian Cartooning.
Although she was always able to draw, she was propelled forwards when she came to the attention of Norman Lindsay . Rose and Norman employed the teenage Mollie to be their children’s governess. So impressed was he, recommended her to the National Art School. For financial reasons, she did not complete the course, but it was enough to sharpen her skills to ensure that she received regular employment. She worked regularly for Smith’s Weekly and the Bulletin and her humorous cartoons made her a household name in the 1930s. Perhaps her best known characters were ‘The Tipple Twins’ two secretaries who regularly created office havoc in the pages of the Rydge’s Business Journal, for which she freelanced in the 1940s. Many of her drawings may be found in the Mitchell Library, at the State Library of News South Wales.
Horseman, Mollie, 1911 - 1974 cartoon drawings and photograph, ca. 1955-1965
Date of Work ca. 1955-1965
Type of Material Graphic Materials Call Number PXE 923. Physical Description Drawings : 13 watercolour & ink drawings (mounted on 2 cardboard sheets) ; 21 x 29 cm. or smaller - 42.9 x 32 cm. or smaller (mount) Photographs : 1 photoprint ; 25.3 x 20.2 cm.
Marie Compston (Mollie) Horseman was a painter and cartoonist who worked on Smith's Weekly and the Bulletin throughout the 1930's. She became known for her humourous cartoons and illustrations for children's books. -- Reference: Heritage : the national women's art book, 500 works by 500 Australian women artists from colonial times to 1955 / edited by Joan Kerr. [Sydney?] : Art and Australia ; Roseville East, N.S.W., 1995 . Contents
1. "My name is Siki Don't Be Afraid ...." [8 drawings]
2. "Your bundle is much whiter than mine! ..." [5 drawings]
3. [Mollie Horseman in coat with artwork, photograph]
Presented July 2003
NORTH RIDING OF YORKSHIRE CENSUS EASBY - CHECK OUT THE TREE
Edward Horseman 43
Hannah Horseman 44
Alfred Wm Horseman 18
Rachel A Horseman 16
John E Horseman 14
Edith E Horseman 11
Frederick Horseman 8
Hilda M M Horseman 4
William Eyles 21
Margaret A Clarke 21
Albert Macey 17
Nathan Alderson 48
Frederick Horseman's father was Edward Horseman born 1848. The family lived at Broken Brae farm. The 1891 census above shows them at Kirkby Ravensworth Easby Civil Parish
Births Mar 1887 MILLER Katherine Mary Rotherham 9c 597
Births Dec 1882 Horseman Frederick Ernest Richmond, Y. 9d 687
Their Marriage Dec 1908
HORSEMAN Frederick Ernest Scarbro' 9d 740
MILLER Katherine Mary C Scarbro' 9d 740
You can read more about them at
Broken Brae farm Easby North Yorkshire. See Photos.
This farm is close to Brompton on Swale DL10 7EY. There are fishing lakes and a caravan site there now. Just beyond Broken Brae Farm is the old Level Crossing house where the old railway crossed the road going towards Richmond. There is a huge steel framed shed with Milbury Animal Feed written on it.
An artist - www.martingoode.co.uk painted the above painting of the farm.
22 March 2010. A further development when I was able to speak to John Horseman a direct relative of Felix's and I have been able to put them in touch with each other. Many thanks to Judy Farrar of the Upper Dales Family History Group for making this connection for us. I have added an enlarged family tree to explain their connection under North Riding Families.
OTHER HORSEMAN DEATHS IN AUSTRALIA
Registration Number Last Name Given Name(s) Father's Given Name(s) Mother's Given Name(s) District
V18391199 23A/1839 HORSEMAN RICHARD
18610/1879 HORSEMAN ALICE E JAMES MARY RICHMOND RIVER
4244/1902 HORSEMAN EDWARD ALBURY
7082/1908 HORSEMAN MARY A L JAMES K MARY REDFERN
10309/1909 HORSEMAN JANE A WILLIAM G JANE A NEWTOWN
18029/1916 HORSEMAN MARY GEORGE MARY A MARRICKVILLE
18029/1916 HORSEMAN MARY GEORGE MARY A MARRICKVILLE
25231/1919 HORSEMAN ARIS R WILLIAM B ST LEONARDS
5198/1920 HORSEMAN RITA M C WILLIAM RHODA F REDFERN
5396/1921 HORSEMAN JANE A JOHN JANE REDFERN
11530/1927 HORSEMAN JAMES K WILLIAM ELIZA S ROCKDALE
1616/1933 HORSEMAN ELSIE JAMES W AGNES E HURSTVILLE
17608/1933 HORSEMAN MONTAGUE GEORGE JULIA GRANVILLE
7675/1936 HORSEMAN WILLIAM GEORGE JAMES MARY HURSTVILLE
13339/1937 HORSEMAN JANE WILLIAM JANE AGNES REDFERN
19182/1943 HORSEMAN JAMES WALTER JAMES KUCAN MARY HURSTVILLE
22292/1944 HORSEMAN JOHN EDWARD (S/B) JOHN EDWARD EDNA MAVIS SYDNEY
4801/1944 HORSEMAN WILLIAM JAMES 84 YRS PEAK HILL SHEARERS COOK PEAK HILL
8297/1949 HORSEMAN MINNIE MAY JOHN HUMPHREY EMILY DRUMMOYNE
9753/1949 HORSEMAN GEORGE WALTER WILLIAM GEORGE JANE AGNES REDFERN
9738/1952 HORSEMAN UNNAMED S B FEMALE WILLIAM PATRICK MARGARET OLGA PADDINGTON
18227/1953 HORSEMAN JEFFREY FALCONER WALTER HENRY DOROTHY GILL ROCKDALE
14925/1961 HORSEMAN RHODA FRANCES PATRICK MARY PARRAMATTA
34692/1966 HORSEMAN AGNES ELLISON DAVID MARY ANN HURSTVILLE
26975/1966 HORSEMAN FREDERICK ERNEST EDWARD HANNAH ST LEONARDS
21552/1970 HORSEMAN WILLIAM WILLIAM JANE AGNES NEWTOWN
Australian Vital Records www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/family