Peter Newell was the creator of popular children's books, such as 'Topsys and Turvys' and 'The Slant Book', but he also did one newspaper comic, which appeared in 1905 and 1906. It was called 'The Naps of Polly Sleepyhead', about a young girl and her nightmarish naps.
Peter Sheaf Hersey Newell was born during the American Civil War on 5 March 1862 near Rice Corners, in McDonough County, Illinois. He lived in that area until 1883 when he moved to New York, where he enrolled at Art Students League. By the fall of 1883 his work was published in New York Graphic and Harper's Bazaar.
Newell returned to Illinois in 1884 and opened a studio in Springfield. On 5 February 1885 he married Leona Dow Ashcraft, whom he had met while working at Clenendon and Nichols Photography Studio. Thereafter as his family grew, they traveled extensively in the US and abroad. His work was published in many periodicals, books, and magazines.
Peter Newell was noted for his gentle humor, visual puns and word play, comics and whimsical rhymes. His specialties however were children and animals, and some of his best work featured them at play and mischief, eg. Alice in Wonderland, The Slant Book, the Hole Book, the Rocket Book, etc., including the incomparable Topsey Turvey books.
On 15 January 1924 Peter Newell died of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) at age 61, at his home in Little Neck, New York.
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
(An excerpt from 'Wild Flowers', by Peter Newell)
Biographical details coutesy
of Patricia Reynolds Wald,
great-niece of Peter Newell