Gluyas Williams

Date Of Birth:
23 July 1888
Date Of Death:
13 February 1982
Place Of Birth:
San Francisco, California
Best Known As:
The witty cartoonist who illustrated Robert Benchley's writings

Gluyas Williams was one of America's most popular cartoonists between the World Wars. His specialty was gentle satire of big-city suburban life: commuter trains, cigar-wielding businessmen, meek husbands, women's clubs, sandlot ballplayers, and the like. His distinctive pen-and-ink style used bold patches of black and playfully curved lines to great effect. Williams graduated from Harvard in 1911 and spent a year studying art in Paris, but it wasn't until 1920 that he had success selling drawings to magazines like Collier's and Life. In 1922 he began producing Suburban Heights, a syndicated feature that helped pioneer the single-panel-with-caption format that is now a newspaper staple. The feature introduced his signature character, a round-faced and mildly befuddled suburbanite known as Fred Perley. Williams became a regular at The New Yorker in 1930 and was closely associated with the magazine's Robert Benchley; the two met while working on The Harvard Lampoon, and Williams later illustrated Benchley's books of funny essays. Williams spent his adult life in Newton, Massachusetts, commuting to a studio in downtown Boston. He retired from drawing at age 65, in 1953. His books include Fellow Citizens (1940) and The Gluyas Williams Gallery (1957).

Extra Credit

His name was pronounced GLOO-yas. A 1948 article in American Artist reported that “Gluyas is a family name and comes from Mr. Williams’ ancestral Cornwall” (England)… WIlliams finished Harvard in three years… His sister, Kate Carew, was also an artist and caricaturist… His matronly female characters were sometimes compared to those of another New Yorker cartoonist, Helen Hokinson. His style was also influenced by that of Aubrey Beardsley… Williams married the former Margaret Kempton in 1915; they had a son, David Gluyas, and a daughter, Margaret.

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