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Dale and Betty Maxey Mid century Illustrators

November 13, 2015

Fishinkblog 9691 Dale Maxey 1

It’s a good two years since I last posted about the wonderful work of author and Illustrator Dale Maxey. I’ve had quite a bit of feedback and comments from yourselves but alas after another two whole years, I still really know very little about him. These first illustrations were taken from a book called ” The Wild and Woolly Animal Book “.

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I love how his backgrounds are just dark shades of the same colour on a lighter wash, very effective.

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He wrote and illustrated a great many titles.

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Some better known than others !

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I’d never heard of ‘Preep’ before, The Little Pigeon of Trafalgar Square, but as I can find reference to at least two other Preep titles, I’m guessing he was quite a popular character.

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Beautiful pencil illustrations, movement and perspectives here.

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Then a Fishink Blog reader Andrew got in touch. He loves children’s illustration from the days of his youth (like me) and also discovered I had mentioned Dale’s work previously. He offered to send me some images from ‘Fidgit.. is a great hairy beast’ … so I jumped at the chance, and here they are.

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Such a wonderful book for colour, pattern and fun.

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I can only imagine that Dale had a great time drawing all of these creatures who in turn interact with Fidgit the mouse.

Just look at these amazing and slightly psychedelic backgrounds.

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Dale manages to create such cheery and endearing characters, I think his work is a complete joy to look at.

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Even though I somehow imagine Mr and Mrs Maxey to be American, Dale’s wife Betty, was working on Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ series of books, which I’d imagine were a very English piece of childhood nostalgia for many of us readers today. Dale also did a book called ‘Seeing London” so perhaps they lived in the UK after all. Here’s some of Betty’s work.

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The Enid Blyton images were nearly always about simple line drawings, showing events that were happening in the text and of course bringing the characters to life by giving them all a recognisable face.

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There were many adventures to be had….

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…places to discover and check out, treasure to be found and of course, baddies to encounter. Usually with heavily scarred or angry faces, just to make them scarier than ever! lol

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Betty also worked for magazines. Here’s some 1969 work for the serial ‘Wistaria Street ‘ by Jane Anthony, for Woman’s Realm magazine. This is much more detailed than her work above and uses more shading and tone.

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With the fame from the Enid Blyton books, Betty’s work also worked well for Noel Streatfeild and some of her well-known seventies books for girls.

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A talented couple for certain. Many thanks to Andrew for the Dale Maxey images and your time in contacting me and photographing them for everyone to share, very kind indeed. If anyone knows any more about this fascinating pair, or perhaps you have more of Dale’s work I’ve not covered here already, then please do let us know.  Many thanks. Do tune in and help me celebrate my 1000th post on Monday too ! Whooop !!


James Tate kindly contacted me to say he had a publicity shot of Betty with his father and would I like a copy… well of course I would and so here it is..

From left.. the first person is unknown, then Chuck Kessler, Betty Maxey, James’s father Don Tate & Tom Hoyne. If anyone knows who is the first person on the left is then James would like to find out. Thanks James for sharing this lovely shot.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2015 2:22 am

    I recognize the work of both illustrators from my childhood. Lots of nostalgia for me in this post. I’m sure they added to my reading pleasure as a wee lassie but now that I’ve seen the images in your blog post I can really appreciate their work (particularly Dale’s) on a whole other level. Marvelous stuff.

    • November 14, 2015 9:52 am

      Thanks Laura. It’s always a worthwhile moment for me when someone gets zipped back to the days of their youth by the images I’ve posted (assuming that those days were all good of course lol). It sounds like yours were, so thanks for your comments and for making me smile today.

  2. Pete permalink
    January 13, 2016 2:46 pm

    Here’s some more background info regarding Betty & Dale Maxey which you may find interesting etc.



    Background Info – Betty Maxey
    Emails from a close family friend of Betty & Dale Maxey:

    • January 13, 2016 5:21 pm

      Hi Pete, how interesteing to see conversations from people who actually knew both Betty and Dale and can fill us in on what they were like as people as well as illustrators. I appreciate you keeping us all informed,with your links. Many thanks Craig

  3. Pete permalink
    January 13, 2016 6:37 pm

    Dear Craig,

    Glad you enjoyed the background information about Dale & Betty from one of their lifelong friends.

    I really enjoyed all the illustrations you included earlier by Betty Maxey of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five etc as it’s so rare to see Betty’s work acknowledged these days!

    I always find that surprising,as the 1960’s and 1970’s paperback versions of Enid Blyton’s books sold in their millions!

    Best Wishes


  4. jack saville permalink
    July 1, 2018 4:16 pm

    betty maxey lived in boise idaho in the 1960,s and is listed in the idaho artists registry, if you google her name you will see it there in 1966. My mother knew her and bought a lovely watercolor from her of a winter scene called “Winter Pool”. I am dissolving my mother’s estate and wish to sell this original painting.

    • July 1, 2018 5:10 pm

      Many thanks for the additional info Jack. I have seen a few of Betty’s drawings on Ebay from time to time, that could be a good place as any to start. Cheers Craig

  5. James permalink
    March 6, 2020 3:35 pm

    Craig, I have a publicity photo from a studio my father was in with Betty. There are 5 artist in the photo. From left would be first person unknown, Chuck Kessler, Betty Maxey, my father Don Tate & Tom Hoyne. If you would like a copy I could email it to you.
    Thanks James Tate

    • March 6, 2020 4:36 pm

      Thanks James that would be great, Craig @ I’ve had quite a flurry of Betty and Dale Maxey info as a reader has just inherited their house and found some old illustrations… exciting times . Thanks for getting in touch

  6. Alison Wickett permalink
    June 21, 2021 10:30 am

    I have a Monica Dickens book (a penguin) called The Angel in the Corner.
    On the front of the 1966 reprinted book is a Betty Maxey illustration. A simple, clever and very 60s in its design

  7. Lynn Mellor permalink
    December 2, 2022 8:36 pm

    My father worked with Dale and Betty Maxey in Chicago, around 1948ish! The Maxey’s moved to London around 1960ish. I was very young. They lived in London and Formentera, Spain until Dale died!

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