Begin New Search
Refine Last Search
Cemetery Lookup
Add Burial Records
Help with Find A Grave

Find all Mays in:
 • St Mary Roman Catholic Cemetery
 • Kensal Green
 • London Borough of Brent
 • Greater London
 • Find A Grave

Top Contributors
Success Stories
Discussion Forums
Find A Grave Store

Log In
Phil May
Birth: Apr. 22, 1864
West Yorkshire, England
Death: Aug. 5, 1903
Camden Town
Greater London, England

Artist, Illustrator. He was known for his drawings of Cockney types and flower sellers. Philip William May was born at 66 Wallace Street, New Wortley, near Leeds in Yorkshire, the seventh child of an engineer, who died when Phil was nine, and hs Irish wife. He went to St. George's School in Leeds, but left very early, hoping to be a jockey, but the only job he could find was as timekeeper in a foundry. By the age of twelve, however, he was helping the scene painter at the theatre in Leeds. Soon after this, he joined a touring company as an actor; one of the parts he played was the cat in "Dick Whittington." At the age of fifteen, he set out for London to seek his fortune, but suffered great hardship and had to return to Leeds on foot. Four years later, he married Sarah Elizabeth Emerson and returned to London, where the couple lived in poverty. His luck changed when he drew a caricature of Sir Henry Irving and Squire Bancroft leaving the Garrick Club. This was published by a print seller in the Charing Cross Road; the future King Edward VII bought a copy, and the original was purchased by the actor, Lionel Brough, who recommended the artist to the editor of the magazine "Society." After a period working for that publication, May became the chief illustrator of the "St. Stephen's Review", until a breakdown in his health made it advisable for him to go to Australia, where he worked for the Sydney Bulletin from 1885-88. After this, he studied art in Paris. On his return to London, he rejoined the 'St. Stephen's Review", until, in 1893, the Daily Graphic commissioned him to go on a world tour. He got as far as Chicago before he returned to London, and never left the capital again. For the remainder of his life, he drew exclusively for the Graphic and for Punch magazine, which he joined in 1896. Every year from 1892 until his death, a volume entitled "Phil May's Winter Annual" was issued in time for Christmas. James McNeill Whistler once said, "Modern black and white can be summed up in two words: Phil May." He developed a style in which every line which was not absolutely essential was discarded, thereby giving his work the appearance of having been achieved by a lucky chance. In fact, each drawing was the result of much labour and many studies. He died at his house in Medina Place, St. John's Wood in North London. His widow received a pension from the civil list of 100 per annum; she married again and died in 1910. They had no children. In 1910, a plaque was unveiled on his birthplace, bearing the words "The great black and white artist" and "A fellow of infinite jest." In order to find his grave, follow the main drive and then take the first path South after the Chapel (passing on your right the Circle in which Gilbert Harding is buried.) Continue South until you see, on your left, the grey memorial to the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary. Phil May is buried opposite them on your right, four graves back from the path. The inscription, which is not easy to decipher, reads: "Pray for the soul of Philip William May (Phil May), who died 5th. August 1903, aged 39. Requiescat." (bio by: Iain MacFarlaine) 
St Mary Roman Catholic Cemetery
Kensal Green
London Borough of Brent
Greater London, England
Plot: 2178
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Iain MacFarlaine
Record added: Mar 31, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 8581789
Phil May
Added by: EHL
Phil May
Added by: Iain MacFarlaine
Phil May
Added by: Iain MacFarlaine
There is 1 more photo not showing...
Click here to view all images...
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

- Jackie Howard
 Added: Aug. 5, 2013

- Tracey Reid
 Added: Apr. 22, 2012
Rest in Peace.
- Jackie Howard
 Added: Aug. 5, 2010
There are 30 more notes not showing...
Click here to view all notes...
How famous was this person?
Current ranking for this person: (3.6 after 25 votes)

Privacy Statement and Terms of Service