Virginia Sterrett’s intricate illustrations of magical kingdoms, princes and princesses, fairies and dragons are beyond enchanting. When I was fifteen I discovered a pristine (albeit pretty dusty) copy of Old French Fairy Tales illustrated by Virginia Frances Sterrett copyright 1920 in my Grandmother’s library and immediately became a life-long fan.
Virginia Frances Sterrett (1900–1931) had a brilliant career and was often referred to as the ‘female Kay Nielsen.’ She had a formal art eduction at Art Institute of Chicago (with a full scholarship) and at the age of 19, she was hired by a publishing company to illustrate Old French Fairy Tales and then Tanglewood Tales. Virginia’s poor health (she contracted tuberculosis) made it difficult to work, but she was able to finish Arabian Nights before passing at the young age of thirty. I wish I could find an interview to find out more about Virginia’s experience as a young artist, but I haven’t had any luck. Let me know if you have any leads!
If you search for her name, there are a number of online resources to see all of Virginia’s illustrations. The three books she illustrated are rare and highly collectible, but you may be able to find them on ebay or Amazon.