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Betty Swanwick
(1915 — 1989)

Betty Swanwick was a British painter and illustrator. Born in London in 1915, Swanwick was the daughter of a marine watercolourist serving in the Royal Naval Reserves. Influenced by her early exposure to art, Swanwick enrolled at the Goldsmiths College of Art aged fifteen. Her early artistic education proved so enjoyable and formative that Swanwick pursued study at the Royal College of Art and Central School of Arts and Crafts alongside her Goldsmiths education. In 1936, following participation at a student exhibition, Swanwick was commissioned to design illustrative posters for London Transport. In the same year, Swanwick began teaching at Goldsmiths College, where she would later serve as Head of Illustration between the years 1948 – 1961 alongside teaching posts at the Royal College of Art and Royal Academy Schools.


Following the Second World War, Swanwick began to develop her artistic range significantly, experimenting with painting watercolours and murals alongside her continued success designing and illustrating posters. This development continued steadily. In 1945, Swanwick began to illustrate her own novelettes, writing both social comedies for adults and more traditional humorous tales for children.


Her first solo exhibition held at the Little Gallery, London in 1950 showcased Swanwick’s watercolours, whilst her mural commissions for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and the Evelina London Children’s Hospital in 1955 displayed her fun, amusing style to great effect. Swanwick was elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1972, and as a member of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours in 1976. The artist died in 1989. Her work can be seen today in the collection of the Royal College of Art, the National Portrait Gallery and the London Transport Museum.