Margaret Mary Tempest (married name, Lady Mears) (1892 to 1982)
A distinguished artist and co-founder of the Chelsea Illustrators, Margaret is best known for her illustrations of the Little Grey Rabbit books by Alison Uttley.
Margaret was born at 28 Fonnereau Rd, Ipswich. In January 1951, she moved to 3 St Edmunds Road, Ipswich where she lived for the rest of her life.
Margaret Tempest was an illustrator and artist who was known throughout the country, perhaps the world, for her illustrations of children's books. She is best-known for her collaboration with children's writer Alison Uttley on the Little Grey Rabbit books.
After studying art at Ipswich Art School she moved to Westminster School of Art, London, to further her studies, graduating in 1914.
She was a founder member of the Chelsea Illustrators in a large studio in Chelsea where twenty women worked together as artists. They worked successfully together between 1919 and 1939 and ran their business at a time when it was difficult for women to live independently, and develop as professionals and artists. During this time, Margaret was credited with the distinctive design of Alison Uttley's Little Grey Rabbit books, which she illustrated from 1929 until the 1960's. In total there are 42 titles in the series. Margaret also illustrated other children's books and designed picture postcards for the Medici Galleries. She wrote religious books for children and a series of Pinkie Mouse and Curly Cobbler stories.
Margaret returned to Ipswich in 1939. Her family were well known in the town, her father having been Mayor of Ipswich. Her brother Robert was rector of the church in Kersey and her younger brother was a solicitor with Kersey, Tempest and Latter, in Lloyds Avenue.
She had a passion for sailing and became Commodore of Pin Mill Sailing Club. In 1951 she married her widowed cousin, Sir Grimwood Mears, a former Chief of Justice in Allahabad, India. They moved to 3 St Edmunds Road after the death of her brother Frank, the previous occupant. Sir Grimwood died in 1963 at the age of 93 and Lady Mears continued living in St. Edmunds Road. She was a long-time member of the Ipswich Art Club, and for many years was the Chair, only retiring from the committee in 1974. She was still exhibiting her artwork there at age 82. Before her death in 1982 aged 90 she had unfortunately developed Parkinson's disease and could no longer draw.
In 2017 a blue plaque was unveiled to Margaret on her former house, 3 St Edmunds Road. Our thanks go to Merv Russen who promoted Margaret for a blue plaque.
Antony Paton, step great grandson of Margaret Tempest and a trustee of her Estate has given permission to use this information on our website. Please refer to the following link for more information: www.margarettempest.co.uk
More information on Blue Plaques can be found on The Ipswich Society website (see Links).