As a writer and illustrator, Alfred Henry Forrester collaborated with his brother, Charles, under the name ‘Alfred Crowquill’, and took the pseudonym for himself before his brother’s death. Beginning as a caricaturist and cartoonist, he turned to comic books with his own texts in the 1840s, and focussed on children’s books from the 1860s. Alfred Henry Forrester was born in London, the son of a rich City lawyer. His elder brother, Charles, was a writer who would also make use of the pseudonym ‘Alfred Crowquill’. Some of his first caricatures were engraved by George Cruikshank, including the etching Beauties of Brighton of 1826, which featured the two Forrester brothers dressed as bucks. In the following year, the brothers worked together on Absurdities in Prose and Verse, with Alfred providing the illustrations.
During the ensuing decade or so, he worked for the editor John Timbs, contributing images to The Hive and The Mirror.
One of the first artists to contribute to Punch (1841-44), Forrester was ‘highly popular with the Staff, for he was philosophically happy and jovial, and sang good songs, and was moreover, greatly sought after at a time when comic artists were few’ (Spielmann, 1895: 449-500). However, he left after three years in order to develop as a book illustrator. His achievements in this field include The Pictorial Grammar (circa 1843, again with a text by his brother) and the Comic History of the Kings and Queens of England (circa 1850), both of which demonstrate a vein of charming fantasy. He also exhibited at the Royal Academy (1945-46), designed some sheet music covers and sculpted figures for production as Parian Ware. However, he remained best known for his work as a periodical journalist and illustrator, who regularly contributed words and images to The Monthly Magazine and Bentley’s Magazine, and images to the Illustrated London News (1844-70) and The Illustrated London Times (1859).
His work is represented in the collections of the British Museum and the V&A; and the Houghton Library, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA).