Marianne Moore: Poetry

September 27, 2010

George Plank, Artist and Illustrator

George Wolfe Plank, the American illustrator and designer of magazine covers, was born on March 25, 1883, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Growing up, he lived for a time in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, about six blocks from the Moore household. A self-taught artist, he worked in factories and department stores before moving to Philadelphia about 1907. In 1911, he was hired by Vogue and continued to supply illustrations and cover designs for the magazine until 1936. So popular was his fashion illustration that for a benefit for the Loomis Sanitarium, given at the Waldorf in New York, society matrons posed in tableaux vivants based on his Vogue covers.

Vogue Cover, November 1917

Vogue Cover, April 1916

Vogue Cover, November 1915

In 1914, Plank moved to England with his Philadelphia friends, James and Mildred Whitall. (James, a Quaker and wealthy scion of the Whitall Tatum Glass Company, was related to M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr when Moore was there). Plank’s gift for friendship enabled him to move easily in all ranks of London society and his artistic talents were in great demand.

H. D.'s Hedgehog He drew illustrations for his friends’ books, including E. F. Benson’s The Freaks of Mayfair in 1916, Dorothy Wellesley’s Genesis in 1926 (Lady Gerald Wellesley, Dutchess of Wellington, friend of Yeats and the Sackvilles), Whitall’s English Years in 1832, H.D.’s Hedgehog and Marianne Moore’s The Pangolin and Other Verse in 1936.

The Pangolin and Other Verse

For Louis Untermeyer’s Food and Drink (1932), he drew one hundred “good things to eat and drink.” He also supplemented his Vogue income by designing costumes, sets, and programs for Edith Craig’s productions (Edith was the daughter of Ellen Terry and Edward W. Godwin, and sister of Gordon Craig); painting posters for the Red Cross during the First World War; designing chintz cloth and interior decorations for Lady Sackville, mother of Vita Sackville-West; and designing stationery and bookplates for H.D., Lady Carter, and Pauline Pappenheim, and many others. In 1936, Bryher hired him to illustrate Moore’s A Pangolin and Other Verse published by her Brendin Press. He even completed two royal commissions, including a map of South America in 1918, showing the Queen’s Needlework Guilds and, in 1921, the King’s bedroom for a dollhouse designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary.

King's Bedroom, Queen Mary's Dollhouse

In 1927, Lutyens designed and built a house, Marvells, for Plank in Five Acres, Sussex, where he resided for the rest of his life. During World War II, Plank joined the Home Guard and nearly died of hyperthyroidism. He was naturalized as an Englishman in 1945 and spent the rest of his days gardening at his house, Marvells. George Plank died in his sleep on May 4, 1965 in a nearby nursing home.

Note: This text is adapted from the Beinecke Library, Yale University, Finding Aid for the Papers of George Wolfe Plank housed in the library.

11 Comments »

  1. I hope to find out more about the half brother John E. Plank – to fill out the family on the Find-A-Grave site. After I created a memorial there for George, I located the three sisters (Anna, Ada, Amy) and requested they be linked to the parents.
    Here’s the info. from that site, beginning with the parents:
    Alice Rebecca Wolf Plank (1855-1887)
    Jacob H Plank (1833 – 1897)
    Children:
    Anna A Plank (1862 – 1950) – in same cemetery as parents
    Amy Plank Cocke (1879 – 1964)
    Ada M Plank Gloss (1881 – 1969)
    George Wolfe Plank (1883 – 1965) – & his link:
    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=74936986

    The letters I have read were written to Amy and Ada – with mention of Anna – but, as far as I can remember, no mention of the brother John (or, I would have made note of it and looked for more info.).

    Comment by Nancy — March 12, 2014 @ 10:59 pm |Reply

  2. Thank you so much!! This fills in some gaps for me. At the library yesterday I did find a census record listing John. I know the family through letters (never mentioning John) George wrote home to his sisters – alternating between Amy and Ada, they were to swap after reading so he didn’t have to repeat himself. But only half the letters are in the archive at Yale – those addressed to Amy, so I also get mention of Hartwell there. Health concerns appear, but not the word tuberculosis. So, again, thank you, this gives me more to go on. Right now, I am in need of the name of the cemetery where George is buried. I am creating a page on a website for him. I have found listings for the graves of Amy, Hartwell, Anna, and the parents, Jacob and Alice. This info is very much appreciated.

    Comment by Nancy — August 17, 2011 @ 10:37 am |Reply

    • I presume George is buried in England but I don’t know where.

      Comment by moore123 — August 17, 2011 @ 10:43 am |Reply

    • I revised my comment on the Moore web site. Here is what I put instead of what you saw:

      Some further research on George Wolfe Plank and Moore. On his passport applications from 1914-1921, Plank listed as his permanent address 21 E. Pomfret Street, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. This was the home of Samuel W. and Ada Plank Gloss. In May, 1911, Moore reports that she went to a tea in Carlisle at the home of Winnie Woods to meet Mrs. Coche, (Mr. Planks newly married sister) and Mrs. Glass. (*Selected Letters,* p. 98) The editors note that Mrs. Glass was also George Planks sister, and lived in Carlisle.

      Ada Plank Gloss (not Glass) was the wife of Samuel W. Gloss, a barber in Carlisle. She was born in 1881 in Arendtsville, Pennsylvania, according to her obituary in the *Gettysburg Times* for Tuesday, September 30, 1969, and died in Carlisle. She had three children, Abie P., George P., and Samuel P. (1930 Census).

      Amy Grace Plank Cocke, 1879-1964, married Dr. Charles Hartwell Cocke (1881-1944) and lived in Asheville, North Carolina. She and her husband are buried there in Riverside Cemetery. Charles Cocke and Amy Plank were both tuberculosis patients in Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium, St. Armand, New York, in 1910 (1910 Census). They married in 1914. Dr. Cocke, an expert on tuberculosis, studied at the University of Virginia, Cornell, and in London and Paris. He had a distinguished career as a physician in North Carolina (from his obituary in *Chest*: *The Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians*, 1944, pp. 468-69).

      The 1880 Census for Arendtsville Village, Franklin Twp, Adams County, Pennsylvania, lists Jacob and Alice R. Plank as the parents of Amy. Ada was not born until 1881 and so was not listed in that census; there is no census for 1890, and by 1900, her parents had died and she was living with her mothers sister, Ida Wolfe Hoffmann, in Carlisle. George was born in 1883 and in the 1900 Census was living in Altoona, Pennsylvania, working in a department store, and living near his half-brother, John E. Plank. He seems not to appear in the 1910 Census. His 1914 passport gives his permanent address as Wyebrooke, Pennsylvania, a section of West Nantmeal Township, Chester Co. , but he does not live there in 1910.

      Moore must have known George Plank before she was invited to the tea. The previous October she received a letter from him from England. In commenting on the letter to her brother (SL 97), she referred to Plank as Lizard Beetle coat; the bestowal of a nickname in the Moore family is a sign of close acquaintance..

      Comment by moore123 — August 17, 2011 @ 10:45 am |Reply

  3. What brother? I thought there were only a couple of sisters – Amy and an older one.

    Comment by Nancy — August 13, 2011 @ 10:05 pm |Reply

    • Some further research on George Wolfe Plank and Moore. On his passport applications from 1914-1921, Plank listed as his permanent address 21 E. Pomfret Street, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. This was the home of Samuel W. and Ada Plank Gloss. In May, 1911, Moore reports that she went to a tea in Carlisle at the home of Winnie Woods to meet “Mrs. Coche, (Mr. Plank’s newly married sister) and Mrs. Glass.” (Selected Letters, p. 98) The editors note that Mrs. Glass was also George Plank’s sister, and lived in Carlisle.”
      Ada Plank Gloss (not Glass) was the wife of Samuel W. Gloss, a barber in Carlisle. She was born in 1881 in Arendtsville, Pennsylvania, according to her obituary in the Gettysburg Times for Tuesday, September 30, 1969, and died in Carlisle. She had three children, Abie P., George P., and Samuel P. (1930 Census).
      Amy Grace Plank Cocke, 1879-1964, married Dr. Charles Hartwell Cocke (1881-1944) and lived in Asheville, North Carolina. She and her husband are buried there in Riverside Cemetery. Charles Cocke and Amy Plank were both tuberculosis patients in Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium, St. Armand, New York, in 1910 (1910 Census). They married in 1914. Dr. Cocke, an expert on tuberculosis, studied at the University of Virginia, Cornell, and in London and Paris. He had a distinguished career as a physician in North Carolina (from his obituary in Chest: The Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, 1944, pp. 468-69).
      The 1880 Census for Arendtsville Village, Franklin Twp, Adams County, Pennsylvania, lists Jacob and Alice R. Plank as the parents of Amy. Ada was not born until 1881 and so was not listed in that census; there is no census for 1890, and by 1900, her parents had died and she was living with her mother’s sister, Ida Wolfe Hoffmann, in Carlisle. George was born in 1883 and in the 1900 Census was living in Altoona, Pennsylvania, working in a department store, and living near his half-brother, John E. Plank. He seems not to appear in the 1910 Census. His 1914 passport gives his permanent address as Wyebrooke, Pennsylvania, a section of West Nantmeal Township, Chester Co. , but he does not live there in 1910.
      Moore must have known George Plank before she was invited to the tea. The previous October she received a letter from him from England. In commenting on the letter to her brother (SL 97), she referred to Plank as “Lizard Beetle coat;” the bestowal of a nickname in the Moore family is a sign of close acquaintance..

      Comment by moore123 — August 17, 2011 @ 10:40 am |Reply

  4. Well, that’s quite an expansion of my knowledge of Mr. Plank.

    In the biography he’s mentioned as someone Moore knew in Carlisle, but it was unclear how he managed to make all the contacts he had made in order to make it in the art world. This fills in a lot of blanks on the Planks.

    Did he then have private money? Was he married? Kids?

    It’s hard to see your tiny graphics on my monitor.

    But thanks!

    Comment by Kirby Olson — September 28, 2010 @ 5:46 pm |Reply

    • Good to know the graphics are small–presumably on a laptop, and that’s what most people are probably using.

      Plank never married, was from a farming family, parents dead when he and brother were very young. He made his way on his wits and apparently had a great gift for friendship.

      Comment by moore123 — October 5, 2010 @ 12:00 pm |Reply

    • I’ve not read anything about his knowing Moore in Carlisle – just that they corresponded by mail.

      Comment by Nancy — August 13, 2011 @ 10:09 pm |Reply

      • But I’ve not read a biography of Moore either. [This commenter suggested in an email that has gotten erased that GWP had a sister, Amy, but no brother.]

        Comment by Nancy — August 13, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

      • Some further research on George Wolfe Plank and Moore. IN THE 1900 Census, George Plank is living in Altoona, Pennsylvania, not far from his half-brother John E. Plank and working in a department store. On his passport applications from 1914-1921, Plank listed as his permanent address 21 E. Pomfret Street, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. This was the home of Samuel w. and Ada Plank Gloss. In May, 1911, Moore reports that she went to a tea in Carlisle, at te home of Winnie Woods to meet “Mrs. Coche, (Mr. Plank’s newly married sister) and Mrs. Glass.” (Selected Letters, p. 98) The editors note that Mrs .Glass was also George Plank’s sister, and lived in Carlisle.”
        Ada Plank Gloss (not Glass) was the wife of Samuel W. Gloss, a barber in Carlisle. She was born in 1881 in Arendtsville, Pennsylvania, according to her obituary in the Gettysburg Times for Tuesday, September 30, 1969, and died in Carlisle. She had three children, Abie P., George P., and Samuel P. (1930 Census).
        Amy Grace Plank Cocke, 1879-1964, married Dr. Charles Hartwell Cocke (1881-1944) and lived in Asheville, North Carolina. She and her husband are buried there in Riverside Cemetery. Charles Cocke and Amy Plank were both tuberculosis patients in Adirondack Cottage Sanitarum, St. Armand, New York, in 1910 (1910 Census). They married in 1914. Dr. Cocke, an expert on tuberculosis, studied at the University of Virginia, Cornell, and in London and Paris. He had a distinguished career as a physician in North Carolina (from his obituary in Chest: The Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, 1944, pp. 468-69).
        The 1880 Census for Arendtville, Pennsylvania, lists Jacob and Alice R Plank as the parents of Amy and George W. Plank. Ada was not born until 1881 and so was not listed in that census; there is no census for 1890, and by 1900, her parents had died and she was living with her mother’s sister, Ida Wolfe Hoffmann, in Carlisle.

        Comment by moore123 — August 16, 2011 @ 12:01 pm


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