HOPKINS, Livingston (1846-1927)


HOPKINS, Livingston (1846-1927)
caricaturist
was born at Bellefontaine, Ohio, U.S.A., on 7 July 1846, the thirteenth of 14 children. His people were Methodists, and his upbringing was somewhat hard and puritanical. His father died when he was three years old, and the widow was left with a home and a small estate. The boy went to the district school, and from the age of 14 years worked at various avocations until he enlisted to fight in the civil war when 17 years old. He had very little active service, as the war ended a few months later. After the war he went to Toledo where some sketches he had made were shown to the proprietor of the Toledo Blade. As a result he was engaged as an illustrator, which led to an appointment on Scribner's Weekly. During this engagement he had a few months training in drawing. Going to New York, some of his drawings were accepted by Judge and the New York Daily Graphic, and he also wrote and illustrated A Comic History of United States. This was published in good time for the centennial celebrations in 1876, but the United States were taking themselves very seriously then, the book was unfavourably reviewed, and it was a failure. Hopkins continued his free-lance work for a period of 13 years and did a large amount of work for St Nicholas and for the Harper publications, the Weekly, the Magazine, the Bazaar and Young People. He was also commissioned to illustrate editions of Don Quixote, Gulliver's Travels, Baron Munchausen, and Knickerbocker's History of New York. Towards the end of 1882 W. H. Traill (q.v.) called on him and offered him an appointment as cartoonist on the Bulletin. The offer was accepted and he arrived at Sydney on 9 February 1883.
Hopkins was engaged for three years, but he continued to work for the Bulletin for over 30 years. He was scarcely in the same rank as such men as Phil May, David Low, or Will Dyson, but a constant stream of clever illustrations came from his pen, and he contributed not a little to the power wielded by the Bulletin in its most vigorous days. A selection of his drawings was published in 1904 under the title of On the Hop. Among his best known creations were the "Little Boy from Manly", "I thought1 had a stamp", and the many George Reid drawings. Reproductions of three of his etchings show that he had an excellent sense of the capabilities of that medium. He also occasionally painted in oil or water-colours. After 1913 the volume of his work for the Bulletin gradually diminished, but he kept his interest in the journal of which he was now part-proprietor. He busied himself with making violins, gardening, music and playing bowls. He died on 21 August 1927 at Mosman, Sydney, and was survived by a son and four daughters.
Hopkins was a tall, courteous, slightly austere man with something of the look of Don Quixote. A man of strong principles with more than a touch of the puritan, he was yet a good host who liked to see his friends about him. He never used models, and his work had often to be done in a hurry, but he did an enormous amount of it, always characteristic and with its own peculiar humour.
Dorothy J. Hopkins, Hop of the "Bulletin"; On the Hop, Sydney, 1904; The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 August 1927.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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