Ink-Slinger Profiles: B. Cory Kilvert

Benjamin Sayre Cory Kilvert was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on April 14, 1879, according to his World War II draft card. Kilvert’s son, Benjamin Sayre Cory Kilvert Jr., wrote, “As a very young man, Kilvert left Canada to study at the Art Students’ League in New York City, where his instructor was Robert Henri….Kilvert was extremely well known for his illustrations that appeared in many books and magazines in both the USA and Canada from approximately 1902 to the mid 1930’s.”

Kilvert’s illustrations of children were highly praised in The American Printer, December 1902 issue.

It may not be a difficult task for an artist to limn the figure of a child, but it is quite a different thing to draw children as B. Cory Kilvert draws them. This young artist delineates the soul as well as the material, and his work promises to make his name famous. His drawings in each instance reflect the child-soul of his model. He could hardly have selected a field that is more difficult to the average artist. Mr. Kilvert has done other work and well, but in none does he seem so gifted as in this portrayal of child character. It was really his depiction of the mischievous boy that first brought him to the attention of the art world, in which he has since played a conspicuous part. His realization of the juvenile is natural, and consequently shows much of what may be termed originality. Instead of striving for some ultra effect, Kilvert draws children as they exist, and draws them artistically, adding, perhaps, a capricious sentiment of Kilvert that does not detract, but accentuates, the reality of the drawings.

That Kilvert has made a study of his subject must be evident to any one who ponders his work. That he is the closest of students is shown in each of his drawings, but that he has a natural talent for this important feature of his work cannot be denied. He is a mere youth himself, and has always had a big, soft spot in his heart for children. True he has studied them and their inconsistent characteristics, but never without a real interest in the children themselves. The result is that he draws as he knows the child to be, and delineates the child-soul as he has found it, and his work is clever and unique and ingenious, and always truly artistic. He has nor endeavored to create a new type that one would call the “Kilvert boy” or the “Kilvert girl.” He has satisfied himself with Nature’s creation and has given it to us, and we are pleased because he has done so. Nature is a great artist, and her work is difficult to improve upon. Kilvert realizes this fact. Each piece stands for some phase of child-life that none can fail to appreciate, even if one is naturally not of a very artistic bent.

B. Cory Kilvert is young and will certainly place himself among the celebrities of his field. He is a native of Canada, having been born in Hamilton, Ont., in 1879. It is said that he was a mischievous boy himself and got into more than one scrape for drawing caricatures of his schoolmates. Three years ago [1899] he joined the art department of the New York Evening World, which he left to accept a place with Harper & Brothers.

Recently he has been free-lancing, his work appearing in Harper’s, Collier’s, Outing, Frank Leslie’s Monthly and the Metropolitan. In the last-named magazine much of his child-work has appeared, Editor Maxwell, a well-known art connoisseur, being much impressed with young Kilvert’s drawings, of which he said, “Each is a miniature history of the race and each a thing of cleverness and beauty.” The line which is Kilvert’s specialty has practically no limit. Already he has studied the characteristics of the children of other than American nationality, and he draws them in the same clever manner that he does Michael Dooley or the others shown here.

Kilvert’s comic strip Buddy Spilliken’s Diary was published from October 11 to November 29, 1908.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Kilvert, his wife Elise, daughter Dorothy and a servant lived in Woodbury, New York on Pine Hill Road. He had been married a year and his occupation was artist. His comic strip Dorothy and the Killies was published in the New York Press from 1914 to 1915. On a return trip from Canada, visiting his mother in March 1919, Kilvert’s address was recorded in the manifest as 50 West 55th Street, New York, New York.

The Kilverts lived in Washington, D.C. at 1627 New Hampshire Avenue as recorded in the 1930 census. He had divorced first wife and remarried, around 1928, to Helen; they had two children, Janice and Cory B. Jr.

Kilvert signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. He lived in Manhattan, New York City at 130 East 67th Street and was self-employed. His description was five feet, eleven-and-a-half inches, 180 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair.
The New York Times noted his passing on March 31, 1946.

B.S. Cory Kilvert

Artist Did Humorous Cartoons for Original Life Magazine

Benjamin Sayre Cory Kilvert of 876 Park Avenue, an artist whose humorous cartoons formed a feature of the original Life magazine, died here Friday [March 29]. His age was 65.

Born in Hamilton, Ont., Mr. Kilvert came to this country in 1900 and studied at the Art Students League. He illustrated many children’s books and at one time was a member of the staff of The World. He was a son of Francis Edwin Kilvert, former Member of the Canadian Parliament and Collector of Customs of Hamilton.

He leaves a widow, Mrs. Helen Foss Kilvert, formerly of Nyack, N.Y.; a son, Benjamin S.C. Kilvert Jr., and two daughters, Janice Kilvert and Mrs. Jonathan Duncan.

A biography of Kilvert, written by his son, can be found at’s GenForum.

One comment on “Ink-Slinger Profiles: B. Cory Kilvert

  1. Hello Allan, I am curious if you have found any of the St. Louis Star political cartoons (or any others) by Harry J. Tuthill, (The Bungle Family). I couldn't figure out how to search your blog for Tuthill. Thanks, Stan Henderson

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