Humphrey Dakeyne – Illustrator of Vivarium Life

frogAs well as Alfred Leutscher’s Vivarium Life, Humphrey Dakeyne also illustrated the book on tropical aquaria by Ian Harman (see my post on Ian Harman of 2 July 2014). Recently, by digging in genealogical search websites, newspaper records and in Google I have been able to identify him with a very high degree of certainty. There is also some plainly incorrect information, as is so often the case, in an online family tree.

Humphrey Beresford Peter De la Pole Dakeyne was born in Staffordshire on 21 May 1914. He could well be the Humphrey Dakeyne who was in amateur dramatics in Bath in the early 1930s and who was let off by the magistrates for not having a driving licence in Wiltshire in 1933 (he had applied for one). As an ‘art student’ he sailed from Southampton to New York on the SS Bremen in 1934.

In 1939 and 1940, I found him in Lynchburg, Virginia, described as a labourer and then as a helper in a foundry. An unlikely occupation perhaps but his presence in Lynchburg at this time was confirmed by a later entry record into the USA from Canada. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force on 7 December 1941 and on 16 January 1942 entered the USA again, I would guess for training. The contact for his previous visit to the USA was stated to be his fiancée, a Miss Taylor. He served in the RCAF as a pilot (Flying Officer in 1944 in the only record I found) but could find no further information on his service.

monitorAfter the war, I found him in London, in 1946 living with Helen Dakeyne (probably his sister or mother). He married Margaret Dowling in 1947 in London. They lived in Eccleston Square, according to electoral records, between 1947 and 1950.

The next records of him are from Kenya. He was appointed a driving test examiner in 1956. There is an account of his racing cars with his wife ( a Mrs E Dakeyne, not M Dakeyne). The final record is of his death in Nairobi on 10 May 1973, aged 58.

I have found no record of his having illustrated any other books, other than for Leutscher and for Harman. His fish drawings were very good as were some of his amphibians and reptiles. I always particularly liked his Common Frog, the first illustration of in Vivarium Life, as well as the Nile Monitor that was used for the jacket and, in the first edition, on the front binding.

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