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Virginia Frances Sterrett was an American artist and illustrator, born in 1900, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Sterrett had a tragically short, though immensely productive life. She was an introverted young woman, who much preferred drawing and day-dreaming to socialising with children of her own age. After her father’s death, the family moved to Missouri, however they soon returned to their homeland in Chicago, in 1915. It was here that Sterrett really took her art seriously, and enrolled in high school to progress her studies. She later joined the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was awarded a scholarship.
Sterrett received her first commission at the age of nineteen – shortly after she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. This commission came from the ‘Penn Publishing Company’, to illustrate Old French Fairy Tales (1920); a collection of works from the nineteenth-century French author, Comtesse de Ségur. Sterrett’s illustrations for this book were delicate yet powerful, and she quickly made a name for herself in the world of children’s illustration. She was commissioned to illustrate Tanglewood Tales (1921(, retelling myths from Greek mythoogy, which propelled Sterett's work into the public eye and secured her place in the Golden Age canon.
From 1923, in failing health, Sterrett was able to work on projects for short periods of time only. As a result, she was able to complete just one further commission prior to her death – her own interpretation of Arabian Nights (1928). Sterrett’s health briefly improved in 1929/1930, and she was able to move to California. Sterrett died of tuberculosis, on 8th June, 1931.