Obviously the two main illustrators of the William books were Thomas Henry and Henry Ford, although there were of course many others.
Thomas Henry was born Thomas Henry Fisher at Eastwood during 1879. The family moved to Nottingham shortly afterward.
He attended Nottingham College of Art.When he was 15 whilst still a student, Fisher began to work for the Nottingham Guardian.
His career began when he sent a sketch of his brother to England's illustrious Punch satirical magazine. The editor Sir Frederick Burnand sent back an encouraging letter. His first paid work was an illustration for a turn of the century comic called the Ally Sloper. He received 7s 6d and soon his illustrations were a regular feature of Punch and other important English magazines. His work received considerable critical acclaim. The Royal Academy hung one of his pictures and he also exhibited at many galleries including Nottingham Castle.
Many older English football fans fondly remember the cartoons that used to enliven the Football Post until the late 1960s. They were drawn by Thomas Henry . He created the memorable Forester, Magpie, Stag, Chesterfield's Spireite, Lincoln's Imp and the Derby Ram. The Football Post was at the time perhaps the most popular sports publication in England and his cartoons were a wonderful addition and greatly enjoyed by readers.
Richmal Crompton's Just William books were profusely and beautifully illustrated by him,and they are usually signed Thomas Henry. Although he compiled a considerable body of work, his career is inextricably linked today with William
. Becaue of his growing reputation, the publisher Newnes selected him to depict Richmal's creation -William Brown. His drawings were a perfect compliment to Crompton's text. He had a perfect grasp of the William's character and foibles. William, as illustrated by Thomas Henry was everyone's idea of a mischievous schoolboy with his grubby knees, unruly hair, and perpetual cheeky grin He succeeded in creating the perfect visual image drawn by Richmal in her books. His depictions of William's outlaw's - Ginger, Douglas Henry as well as him nemesis--Violet Elizabeth Bott--are also wonderfully done. Other illustrators have done William, but it is Thomas Henry's drawings that come to mind when when most people nostalgically think of William Brown.
Obviously as a Newnes employee, he worked on many of their books which had a similar 'feel' as the William books. Most notably Evadne Price's book 'Enter Jane' and Florence Kilpatrick's book 'Our Elizabeth'. Both these have the same format as the very early William books with the lovely pictures on the spine, and needless to say, with them being Thomas Henry illustrations, look superb!!
It is worth noting that in the case of the Jane book, although the illustrations are most definitely Thomas Henry, they are not signed so, but are in fact signed Wooley. This may have been to placate Evadne Price, who did not take kindly to being referred to as the author of the 'female William'.as if she was copying Richmal Crompton.In fact she went on record as saying she"had never heard of William".
However this is pretty unlikely, seeing as adverts for William books are on the dust wrappers of her own books!!
Thomas Henry is also credited with doing some work on the famous Player Cigarettes Sailor.
Henry Ford I know nothing about !!!!
All I know is, that he illustrated the front cover of William and the Witch. (Thomas Henry illustrated the inside) and the subsequent last four books. There is speculation that Newnes just used other illustrators in their employ, to carry on in the William vein, and that the name Henry Ford was just made up. His name doesn't appear to crop up anywhere else. However as I said this is just speculation and hopfully YOU may know different!
If so, please get in touch and I will be happy to put the record straight.