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William Simpson RI FRGS (1823-1899)

William Simpson, RI FRGS (1823-1899)

William Simpson was a pioneering Special Artist; that is a visual journalist sent to record major news stories for illustrated publications. Making his reputation with lithographs of his watercolours of the Crimean War, and even gaining the name ‘Crimea Simpson’, he later developed a close association with
The Illustrated London News.

William Simpson was born in Glasgow on 28 October 1823, the son of a marine engineer and mechanic. His formal education as a child consisted of 15 months at a writing-school in Perth. However, he received some training in lithography from David Macfarlane, while working at his lithographic office, and then underwent an apprenticeship to Allan and Ferguson, a local firm of lithographers. When the Glasgow School of Design opened in 1845, he also attended classes there.

Moving to London in 1851, Simpson began to undertake a number of exciting assignments as an employee of Day & Son, and was able to claim to be the first Special Artist to be involved in action.

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