Plank, George

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George Wolfe Plank, the American illustrator and designer of magazine covers, was born on March 25, 1883, in a village five miles from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His mother died when he was four and he was raised by his maternal grandparents in Bendersville, Pennsylvania. A self-taught artist, he worked in factories and department stores before moving to Philadelphia where he edited and printed The Butterfly Quarterly with Margaret H. Scott, Alice Smith, and Amy Smith from 1907-09. In 1911, he was hired by Vogue and continued to supply illustrations and cover designs for the magazine until 1936.

In 1914, Plank moved to England with his Philadelphia friends, James and Mildred Whitall. Plank's gift for friendship enabled him to move easily in all ranks of London society and his artistic talents were in great demand. He drew illustrations for his friends' books, including E. F. Benson's The Freaks of Mayfair in 1916, Lady Wellesley's Genesis in 1926, and H.D.'s Hedgehog in 1936. He also supplemented his Vogue income by designing costumes, sets, and programs for Edy Craig's productions; painting posters for the Red Cross during the First World War; designing chintz cloth and interior decorations for Lady Sackville; and designing stationery and bookplates for H.D., Lady Carter, and Pauline Pappenheim. He even completed two royal commissions, including a map of South America in 1918, showing the Queen's Needlework Guilds and, in 1921, the King's bedroom for a dollhouse designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary.

In 1927, Lutyens designed and built a house for Plank in Sussex, where he resided for the rest of his life. During World War II, Plank joined the Home Guard and nearly died of hyperthyroidism. He was naturalized as an Englishman in 1945 and spent the rest of his days gardening at his house, Marvells. George Plank died in his sleep on May 4, 1965 in a nearby nursing home.

From the guide to the George Plank papers, 1907-1965 (inclusive), (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn H. D. Papers, 1887-1977 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Bryher papers, 1812-1980, 1911-1978 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf George Plank papers, 1907-1965 (inclusive) Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Alice Rogers Smith papers, 1880-1971 (inclusive) Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Thomas Bird Mosher papers, 1890-1939 (inclusive) 1895-1924 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Miscellaneous theatrical papers Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ackland, Valentine. person
associatedWith Aldington, Richard, 1892-1962 person
associatedWith Benson, Mary. person
associatedWith Bigham, Trevor, Sir. person
associatedWith Bryher, 1894- person
associatedWith Bryher, Trevor, Sir. person
associatedWith Butterfly Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Cocke, Amy Plank. person
associatedWith Cournos, John, 1881-1966 person
associatedWith Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966 person
associatedWith Craig family. family
associatedWith H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), 1886-1961 person
associatedWith Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972 person
correspondedWith Mosher, Thomas Bird, 1852-1923 person
associatedWith Parrish, Anne, 1888-1957 person
associatedWith Sackville-West, V. (Victoria), 1892-1962 person
associatedWith Smith, Alice Rogers, 1883-1971 person
associatedWith Smith, Logan Pearsall, 1865-1946 person
associatedWith Warner, Sylvia Townsend, 1893-1978 person
associatedWith Wellesley, Dorothy, 1889-1956 person
associatedWith White, Patrick, 1912- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Cornwall (England : County)
London (England)
Bookplates, American




Ark ID: w6wb80qs

SNAC ID: 17994125