Mabel Dora Hardy (1868-1937), known as ‘M Dorothy Hardy’
The artist and illustrator, Dorothy Hardy, specialised in images of animals, and especially horses, and developed a strong interest in, and knowledge of, the Wild West of the United States. Dorothy Hardy was born Mabel Dora Hardy at 15 Bellevue Crescent, Clifton, near Bristol. She was the youngest of four children of the artists, David Hardy, and his wife, Emily (née Collins), and granddaughter of the painter, James Hardy. The wider family included Frederick Daniel Hardy and Heywood Hardy. Her siblings, Paul, Norman and Evelyn also became artists.
David Hardy died when Mabel was only two years old, and left his family in poverty. As a result, a public appeal was launched to aid its support, and it received substantial donations.
By 1871, it had settled at 18 Meridian Place, Clifton, and had begun to re-establish itself financially. By the end of the decade, Paul was supporting it by teaching art and exhibiting his work.
In the 1880s, Mabel and Evelyn moved to London, possibly to study art, and certainly to establish themselves as illustrators. Their addresses in this period included 8 Blomfield Road, Little Venice. Mabel worked under the name M Dorothy Hardy and Evelyn as Evelyn Stuart Hardy. They both showed an interest in horses and, more particularly, those that appeared in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Shows, which visited London between 1887 and 1904. Dorothy met Buffalo Bill and became a close friend of one of his star performers, Annie Oakley. These experiences strongly informed her favourite subject matter.
By the early 1890s, Dorothy was contributing articles to The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, and illustrations to a range of periodicals that included The Strand Magazine and Badminton Magazine, as well as titles aimed at children. Her images were also reproduced as prints.
In 1908, Dorothy married Kenneth Elwyn Roberts, who worked in advertising, and they settled at Emberfield, Imber Lane, Esher, Thames Ditton, Surrey. However, she was widowed in 1916. During her marriage, she established herself as an illustrator of books, and especially the works of Lilian Gask, beginning with In Nature’s School and The Wonders of the Zoo (both 1908). In later life, she lived in Kensington. She should not be confused with the artist, Dorothy Hardy, who lived in Long Eaton, Derbyshire.