The Old Print Shop

Jessie Willcox Smith


Jessie Willcox Smith was an American illustrator and one of the Red Rose Girls. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she studied briefly at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women before transferring to the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts. She continued her studies at Drexel Institute afterward, where she forged a lifelong friendship with Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley. The three women collaborated on numerous projects throughout their lives, the first of which was shared between Smith and Oakley - the 1897 publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem "Evangeline". Somewhere in the early 1900s, the three women leased the Red Rose Inn Estate in Villanova, Pennsylvania, where they lived and worked together for many years. The location, coupled with each of their highly successful careers, led to them being referred to as the "Red Rose Girls."

An important woman artist during the Golden Age of American illustration, Smith produced work for a variety of newspaper and magazine firms and illustrated over 60 books during her lifetime. Some of the firms she worked for included Century Magazine, Harper's Weekly, St. Nicholas Magazine, Scribner's Magazine and Good Housekeeping, the latter of which had a long-running Mother Goose series Smith worked on.