In January 2011, we featured a post here on the site about Joseph Edelstein, who was a one time leading businessman in the Jewish community in Dublin who fell on hard times. Edelstein had been an active Home Rule campaigner, active with the Judaeo-Irish Home Rule Association, and was the author of the hugely controversial text ‘The Moneylender’ in 1908. That text proved divisive among Dublin’s Jewish community, with some feeling it reinforced negative stereotypes.
Below is the books cover, as on display today in the Jewish Museum here in the capital.
Philip Blake was the artist responsible for the cover of this book, though precious little is known about him. The Irish Comic News blog are appealing for information on Blake, and have an interesting post on him on their site at present. It’s a fantastic read, and details some of Blake’s work for the Freeman’s Journal newspaper.
Anyway, Blake seems like an interesting character, but I haven’t been able to find out much about him. In the 1901 census he was 32 and living alone in a flat at Leeson Street Lower, Mansion House, Dublin, his occupation is given as “artist, cartoonist, newspaper illustrator, black and white” and his birthplace as Co. Meath. The Mormon genealogy site has a Philip John Blake, born in Castletown, Meath, on 19 January 1869, son of Philip Blake and Elizabeth Martha Cogan, as well as an older brother, Richard Thomas Blake; I’ve found the family in the 1901 and 1911 census, and Phil’s not at home either time, but Richard Thomas is there in 1901, so this looks like the correct identification.
However, There’s no sign of Phil in the 1911 census. I’ve tried the England and Wales census and the Scotland census, but no luck there either. He’s either died or gone somewhere else. And I’ve found, formerly advertised on AbeBooks, an edition of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem The Cloud, published in Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia, about 1915, illustrated with photographs and “illuminated by Phil Blake & Co. Artists”. The chin of the female figure on the cover, below, suggests that this is our man.
One of my favourite books in recent times was the collection of cartoons from the late Ernest Kavanagh, whose work appeared in The Irish Worker during the revolutionary period before his death on the steps of Liberty Hall during the Rising. While certain cartoons from our political past have become well-known, the artists themselves haven’t. If you know anything about Philip Blake, pop over to Irish Comic News and let them know.