Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Sime, S H

(?1865-1941) UK painter, illustrator and theatre designer; his early years are obscure. His work began to appear in the 1890s; his 1896 satirical caricatures of existence in the Afterlife in the magazine Pick-Me-Up caused some controversy. Gradually shedding the influence of Aubrey Beardsley, SHS evolved a style and an autonomy of content which meant his pictures did not so much illustrate the volumes in which they appeared as constitute a parallel vision of mythological Landscapes, peopled by figures drawn with dreamlike intensity whose relation to the world was both intimate and remote, as in some Japanese watercolours. SHS's relationship to Lord Dunsany is well known: his work appeared in most of Dunsany's early collections, many of the stories in which were inspired by SHS's images. Dunsany collections in which SHS collaborated include The Gods of Pegana (coll 1905), Time and the Gods (coll 1906), The Sword of Welleran (coll 1908), A Dreamer's Tales (coll 1910), The Book of Wonder (coll 1912) and Tales of Wonder (coll 1916). He composed frontispieces for some of the later novels, as well as for Arthur Machen's The House of Souls (coll 1906) and The Hill of Dreams (1907) and William Hope Hodgson's The Ghost Pirates (1909).

Beasts that Might Have Been (1905 The Sketch; graph 1973) prefigures SHS's most interesting later work, Bogey Beasts: Jingles &c (graph 1923), a joke Bestiary whose accompanying "jingles" were set to music by Josef Holbrooke (1878-1958). The beasts in both volumes are ludicrous, surreal, sometimes haunting.

SHS was not prolific, and in later years was something of a recluse. Two surveys by George Locke – From an Ultimate Dim Thule: A Review of the Early Works of Sidney H. Sime (1973) and The Land of Dreams: A Review of the Work of Sidney H. Sime, 1905 to 1916 (1975) – provide a detailed coverage of his work, some of which is preserved in Worplesdon Memorial Hall, Surrey, where he spent his last 40 years. [JC]

Sidney Herbert Sime


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.