Blanche McManus

Blanche McManus was born in 1869 near Woodville, Louisiana. She had two sisters and showed artistic talent from the youngest age. Blanche studied in New Orleans and Chicago. After winning at several contests, including international competitions, she continued her studies in London and Paris. While we are not sure, it's very possible she met her future husband Milburg Francisco (Francis Miltoun) Mansfield on of occasions where her path crossed with his (he was an American consul in several cities in Spain and France). They married in 1898. Blanche and Francis loved to travel together through Europe and North Africa combining their creative talents into a series of books written by him and illustrated by her.

It's hard to find any reliable data about Blanche McManus after 1912. Her name is mentioned in correlation with a mental condition. She died in 1935 in Louisiana and is buried in a family cemetery.

Here are three main points about her works:

  • Illustrations from her voyages dominated the first decade in the 20th century. 23 books by L.C. Page were published between 1903 and 1912. Francis (Milburg Francisco) Mansfield is signed as a writer and Blanche as an illustrator. A lot of illustrations depict cars which were a novelty in those times, symbolizing huge changes in lifestyle and human society as well. Others are more focused on buildings like cathedrals or castles. Blanche also contributed as an author on several occasions or was even the sole author, like The American Woman Abroad.
  • Another important group of her illustrations was fiction. She illustrated books for kids, like both parts of Alice in Wonderland, Told in the Twilight, a series of books titled Our Little (Hindi, Spanish, Dutch, ...) Cousin, but also books for the adult audience, like several poetical works by Rudyard Kipling. Apart from that, she wrote several pieces, like Bachelor Ballads, How the Dutch Came to Manhattan, The Voyage of the Mayflower, the Our Little ... series, or The True Mother Goose by herself.
  • The third important part of her opus was work on book covers, posters, calendars (like The smoker's year, The Calendar of Omar Khayyam, ...) and similar shorter projects. She did the murals in the family mansion, for instance. All in all, she was really versatile.