Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

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Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
Born Ida Rentoul
9 June 1888
Carlton, Melbourne
Died 25 June 1960
Carlton, Melbourne
Nationality Australian
Education Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne
Known for illustrator

'Fairy Islands' from the book Elves and Fairies 1916 by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
From Elves & Fairies by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
The Waterfall Fairy
From Elves & Fairies by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

For the New Zealand artist see Isa Outhwaite.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, also known as Ida Sherbourne Rentoul and Ida Sherbourne Outhwaite[1] (9 June 1888 – 25 June 1960), was an Australian illustrator of children's books. Her work mostly depicted fairies.

Ida was born in Carlton, Victoria, the youngest child of four and second daughter of the Rev. Dr. John Laurence Rentoul,[1] an Irish-born Presbyterian minister and academic, and his wife Annie Isobel (née Rattray). At the time of her birth Outhwaite's father was a professor at Ormond College, University of Melbourne, and later moderator-general of his church for 1912-14, and when the World War I broke out, chaplain-general of the Australian military forces.[2] She was educated at Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne.

She married Arthur Grenbry Outhwaite on 8 December 1909 and thereafter was generally known as Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. Before this she had variously signed her work I.S.R. and at some point changed this to I.R.O. She also occasionally used I.S.R.O. and full spellings rather than abbreviations.

Outhwaite worked predominantly with pen and ink, and watercolour.

Outhwaite's first illustration was published by New Idea magazine in 1904 when she was just 15 years of age - it accompanied a story written by her older sister, Anne Rattray Rentoul. In the years that followed, the sisters collaborated on a number of stories. Following her marriage to Grenbry Outhwaite in 1909, she also collaborated with her husband - most notably for The Enchanted Forest (1921), The Little Fairy Sister (1923) and Fairyland (1926). In a number of cases, her children - Robert, Anne, Wendy and William - served as models for her illustrations.

Her illustrations were exhibited throughout Australia, as well as in London and Paris between 1907 and 1933. She died in Caulfield, Victoria, Australia.

Publications carrying her illustrations include:

  • Mollie's Bunyip (1904);
  • Mollie's Staircase (1906);
  • Gum Tree Brownie and other Faerie Folk of the Never Never (1907);
  • Before the Lamps are Lit (1911);
  • Elves and Fairies (1916);
  • The Enchanted Forest (1921);
  • The Little Green Road to Fairyland (1922);
  • The Little Fairy Sister (1923);
  • The Sentry and the Shell Fairy (1924);
  • Fairyland (1926);
  • Blossom: A Fairy Story (1928);
  • Bunny and Brownie: The Adventures of George and Wiggle (1930); and
  • A Bunch of Wild Flowers (1933).

Her works were also published in periodicals and newspapers such as The New Idea, The Native Companion, Australia Today and the British-Australasian.

Her work is depicted in four stained glass windows in an adjoining hall at St Mark's Anglican Church in Fitzroy, Victoria.

In 1985 she was honoured on a postage stamp, depicting an illustration from Elves and Fairies, issued by Australia Post.[3]


  1. ^ a b Langmore, Diane. "Outhwaite, Ida Sherbourne (1888–1960)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Serle, Percival (1949). "Rentoul, John Laurence (1846-1926)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney, NSW: Angus and Robertson. The younger daughter, Ida Sherbourne, afterwards Mrs Outhwaite, became well known as an illustrator of fairy tales. 
  3. ^

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