Ida Rentoul Outhwaite: life and works

By Gwylym Owen

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Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, also known as Ida Sherbourne Rentoul and Ida Sherbourne Outhwaite (9 June 1888 – 25 June 1960), was an Australian illustrator of children’s books. Her produce an effect mostly depicted fairies.

Ida was born in Carlton, Victoria, the youngest child of four and second daughter of the Rev. John Laurence Rentoul, an Irish-born Presbyterian minister and academic, and his wife Annie Isobel (née Rattray). At the epoch of her birth Outhwaite’s daddy was a professor at Ormond College, University of Melbourne, and later moderator-general of his church in the middle of 1912 and 1914. When World War I broke out, he became chaplain-general of the First Australian Imperial Force.

Outhwaite was educated at Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Melbourne. After she married Arthur Grenbry Outhwaite on 8 December 1909 was generally known as Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. Before this she had variously signed her work I.S.R. and at some dwindling changed this to I.R.O. She moreover occasionally used I.S.R.O. and full spellings rather than abbreviations.

Outhwaite worked predominantly with pen and ink, and watercolour.

Outhwaite’s first illustration was published by New Idea magazine in 1904 taking into consideration she was just 15 years of age – it accompanied a explanation written by her older sister, Anne Rattray Rentoul. In the years that followed, the sisters collaborated on a number of stories. Following her marriage to Grenbry Outhwaite in 1909, she furthermore collaborated once her husband – most notably for The Enchanted Forest (1921), The Little Fairy Sister (1923) and Fairyland (1926). In a number of cases, her children – Robert, Anne, Wendy and William – served as models for her illustrations. She inspired a number of artists including Edith Alsop, Ethel Spowers and Ethel Jackson Morris.

Her illustrations were exhibited throughout Australia, as with ease as in London and Paris with 1907 and 1933. She died in Australia at Caulfield, Victoria.

Publications carrying her illustrations include:

Her works were furthermore published in periodicals and newspapers such as The New Idea, The Native Companion, Australia Today and the British-Australasian.

Her play is depicted in four stained glass windows in an against hall at St Mark’s Anglican Church in Fitzroy, Victoria.

In 1985 she was honoured upon a postage stamp, depicting an illustration from Elves and Fairies, issued by Australia Post.

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