Biography: Gluyas Williams

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Birth/Death

Birth: 23 July 1888
Death: 13 February 1982

Occupation/Title

Cartoonist, Illustrator, Caricaturist

Bio Summary

Gluyas Williams was one of many America’s popular cartoonists during the World Wars. His specialty was a spoof of upper-middle class during the era. In 1922, he started producing “Suburban Heights” that pioneered the single-panel-with-caption format that later became newspapers staple. His signature character there was known as Fred Perley.??In 1930, Williams got hired at The New Yorker and become good friend with Robert Benchley. They first introduced with each other while working on The Harvard Lampoon.??Later, Williams become the illustrator of Benchley’s books of funny essays, and Benchley wrote the introduction in Gluyas’ first cartoon collection book.??Gluyas spent his adult life in Newton, Massachusetts while commuting for work to downtown Boston.??He retired at age 65, in 1953.??He died at the age of 93, in 1982.

Early Life/Family

He lives in San Francisco with his sister Kate Carew who was an art student back then. She introduced the work Beardsley to him early in his life.?When Gluyas went to Harvard, Kate had become a magazine illustrator.?Williams married Margaret Kempton in 1915; they had 2 children: a son, David Gluyas, and a daughter, Margaret.

Education/Training

Graduated from Harvard in 1911. Continued studying art at Paris and Dresden, Germany.?
Career Outline

1910- He becomes an art editor of The Harvard Lampoon.?1920- He had success selling drawings to magazines such as “Collier’s” and “Life.”?1922- He began producing Suburban Heights, a syndicated feature that helped pioneer?the single-panel-with-caption format that is now newspapers staple.?1929- Williams’s first collection of cartoons was published.?1930- Williams became a regular at The New Yorker in and was closely associated with the magazine’s Robert Benchley.?1940- His book “Fellow Citizen” was published.?1953- He retired.?1957- Another book “The Gluyas Williams Gallery” was published.

Comments On Style

He used pen-and-ink, strong black tonal shapes, and controlled curved lines for aesthetic.

Influences

Aubrey Beardsley?Helen Hokinson (specifically to Gluyas’ female characters)

Personality

Williams was known to be a good and kind-hearted person and well liked company. Charles Dana Gibson, Harold Ross, Edward Streeter, and Alexander Woollcott all testified of his great personalities and valued his friendship. He stayed with Charles Dana Gibson in 1929 during Gibson’s failing life and even when others had quit and moved to The New Yorker.?He was down to earth and a hard worker:?He was known to have made 50 to 60 drawings ahead of the schedule for the daily paper in case something bad ever happened to him.??He made an effort to meet with his good friend Benchley at New York even though they are both living far from each other to catch up with news and gossips.
He was also cautious (see anecdotes)

Anecdotes

Williams was often seen at the station to search for inspiration of his work. In his words, “I’d watch for things to happen at the West Newton Station in the morning or evening—things like somebody trying to get through the station door to buy a paper, just as everyone else surges out to board the train; or trying to get a taxi at the station on a rainy night; or the way everyone in the station starts for the platform when a train rumbles by, and it’s usually a freight train; all those little everyday occurrences can be built into cartoons.”??There is one certain story that Gluyas often mentioned in lots of his interviews.?Fearing that his studio would catch fire, Gluyas kept an extra pile of drawings in the local bank. Weekly, Gluyas would make a visit to the bank and send the drawings to the syndicate.?One time in 1933, President Roosevelt announced a bank holiday. As his deadline approached, He asked the Boston globe to help him to arrange the bank to open so that he can take some of his drawings for the paper. Williams re-called. “The Boston Globe had to pull strings and arranged for me to go under guard to my bank to get the drawings. The guard was supposed to make certain I didn’t take any gold out.?Miscellaneous?Williams falsely believed that Beardsley never “whited out” mistakes. Therefore, he never used white paint to correct his lines.

Miscellaneous

Filmography

Honors

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