Hertfordshire Postcard Artists, Photographers, Publishers, etc.

Frederick George KITTON, St Albans

1856-1904

 

Frederick George Kitton was born in Norwich on5th May, 1856, the son of a tobacconist, Frederick Kitton, and his wife Mary Spence.  He went to London at the age of 17 to work as an artist and wood-engraver, serving an apprenticeship on The Graphic. During his life many of his engravings appeared in newspapers, artistic journals and books. He move to St Albans in about 1883 living in Richmond Lodge, Church Crescent but moving to Pre Mill House at some date after marrying Emily Eliza Lawford in 1890. He died on Saturday September 10th 1904 following an operation. [Portrait - St Albans Museums]

 

He is most widely known because he devoted himself with immense zeal to illustrating the life and works of Charles Dickens, in a long series of books, the chief of which were: 'Dickensiana, a bibliography of the literature relating to Charles Dickens and his writings' (1886); 'Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil' (1890); 'Dickens and his Illustrators' (1899); 'Charles Dickens, his Life, Writings, and Personality' (1901), in which he supplemented Forster's biography; and 'The Dickens Country,' published posthumously (1905; 2nd edit. 1911). He also annotated the 'Rochester' edition of Dickens's works (1900), and at the time of his death he was working for a New York publisher upon the costly 'Autograph,' or 'Millionaire's,' edition, and with Mr. M. H. Spielmann on a like edition of Thackeray. Kitton was one of the founders, and an active member of, the Dickens Fellowship, and compiled the catalogue of the Dickens Exhibition (1903). His large Dickens library was purchased from his widow by a subscription organised by the Dickens Fellowship, as a nucleus for a national Dickens library, and was formally presented to the Guildhall Library by Lord James of Hereford on 7 Feb. 1908. (From Dictionary of National Biography)

The Clock Tower, St Albans, by F. G. Kitton, circa 1900

 

Postcards of St Albans by

F. G. Kitton

Market Day, St Albans, by F G Kitton, circa 1900

Locally he is well-known for his sketches of Hertfordshire. In 1892 he illustrated the expensively produced book Hertfordshire County Houses, which was published by subscription by the Hertfordshire Standard Office, and the similar Hertfordshire: Some Ancestral Estates and Interesting Careers followed in 1894. In 1893 the Hertfordshire Illustrated Review was published in monthly parts at 1 shilling a part. It was, "conducted and edited by Fred. G. Kitton, Truman Press, and Arthur Smith."  In the same year Charles Ashdown published St Albans - Historical & Picturesque which Kitton illustrated with a large number of engravings of the city. He also illustrated Canon Liddell's book St Alban's Abbey in 1897 and produced the many excellent engravings in Picturesque Hertfordshire by Duncan Moul, published in 1904.

He was very interested in preserving old St Albans and in 1899 Mr Worsell's shop in the Market Place came up for sale and was purchased by Boots, the Chemist. As a result he wrote a piece The "Vanishing" of St Albans - A Plea for the Picturesque in the Herts Advertiser of 29th August calling for the people of St Albans to to sign a petition addressed to Boots urging the company to preserve the character of the building. This was successful and there is no doubt that his actions did much to help save the character of old St Albans.

 

He was also honorary curator of pictures at the newly opened City Museum (Now the Museum of St Albans) where he helped to procure for purchase the Sir John Evans collection of books, manuscripts and drawings, the Buckingham watercolours and the Phipson  watercolours.

 
November 2014   Page created