Search the Collections

Ethel Franklin Betts
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Ethel Franklin Betts was an illustrator during the first decade of the Twentieth Century, one of the artists working during the Golden Age of American illustration. Born in 1877 in Philadelphia, Betts was the daughter of Thomas Betts (b. 1844, a physician) and Alice Whelan Betts, and the younger sister of the artist Anna Whelan Betts (1873-1959). Like her older sister, Betts was educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then at Philadelphia’s Drexel Institute under Howard Pyle (1853-1911). Both sisters moved to study with Pyle at his school in Wilmington, Delaware in 1900, sharing rooms and a studio for two years will fellow artist Dorothy Warren. Thanks to contacts provided by Pyle and her sister, Betts began receiving commissions for illustrations from several magazines, including Collier’s, McClure’s, Reader and St. Nicholas. These led to book illustrations, primarily in children’s books, including “Mother Goose,” “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” other fairy tales and the anthology, “Favorite Nursery Rhymes,” as well as (with other artists) the ten volume complete works of James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916). After she married Edward Bains in 1909, her illustration work for books and magazines declined over time, but she continued to create art for much of the rest of her life. Six of her works were exhibited in the 1915 San Francisco Panama Pacific International Exposition, as were works by her sister Anna; both artists received bronze medals at the Exposition. Ethel Franklin Betts Bains died in her home in Philadelphia in 1959. (TNB 3/2018)