Frederic Andrew Anderson was born October 15, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father, George Anderson, was born in 1854 in Finland and came to America in 1885. His mother, Katrina Anderson, was born in 1867 in Finland and came to America in 1891. His parents married in 1893 in Boston and had three children, Frederic (b. 1894), Ida (b.1896), and Jean (b.1899). The family lived at 8 Flint Place in Boston. The father was a ship's carpenter.
According to the artist,"My parents were born in Finland. My father followed the sea. As a boy I wanted to do the same, and my first drawings were of ships in Boston Harbor."
In 1914 at the age of twenty his story illustrations were published in The Boston Sunday Post Magazine.
In 1915 he left home and moved to Philadelphia to study at the Industrial Arts School. His most influential teacher was Thornton Oakley (1881-1953), a disciple of Howard Pyle (1853-1911). This was the same art teacher and art school that later trained Zoe Mozert and Hugh J. Ward.
In 1916 Frederic A. Anderson opened an art studio at 524 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. He lived at 3142 North Broad Street.
His black and white story illustrations were soon published in The American, McCall's, Ladies Home Journal, Woman's Home Companion, and Metropolitan.
In 1917 he married Anne McCraig in Philadelphia. She was born in 1892 in Ireland. They lived at 113 Essex Avenue in Narberth, PA. That town is in Lower Merion County, which is just northwest of Philadelphia. His widowed Mother-In-Law, Hannah McCraig, who was born in 1868 in Ireland, lived nearby at 95 Windsor Street.
On June 5, 1917 during The Great War Frederic A. Anderson registered for the draft and was recorded at the time to be tall, medium build, with gray eyes and brown hair. According to the artist, "I enlisted in an illustrator's unit of the Army. We dissected and drew operations for a year, making a medical history of the war! The armistice was signed before I got over there. I painted some portraits of generals and came on home, back to work for the magazines." He was honorably discharged in 1919.
In 1920 he and his wife moved to a new home at 112 Chestnut Avenue in Narberth. The artist's sister, Jean Anderson, age twenty, came to live with them.
In 1922 his daughter Elizabeth Jane Anderson was born in Narberth, PA.
Although the town was a rural community, the artist's home was only one block from the train station, so he had an easy commute to Philadelphia, where he worked at his Walnut Street studio and sold freelance illustrations to the Curtis Publishing Company.
In 1924 his illustrations began to appear in The Saturday Evening Post.
In 1925 the artist began to teach night school at the Spring Garden Institute in Philadelphia. His two most popular classes were "Illustration in Oils" and "Illustration in Black and White."
After 1926 his illustrations appeared in Collier's, Pictorial Review, The Country Gentleman, and Red Book.
On April 29, 1928 the art critic of The Philadelphia Inquirer, C. H. Boute, reviewed the annual exhibition of works by students at the Spring Garden institute and specially commended the work of Frederic A. Anderson's students as "well worth inspection."
In October of 1929 the NYC Stock Market crashed and chaos struck the American banking system, which undermined the national economy. The ensuing hardships of the Great Depression affected workers and farmers, as well as industrialists. The established order of manufacturing collapsed, which in turn devastated the advertising and publishing industries.
In 1931 as our nation struggled with dire problems, Frederic A. Anderson, with his wife, daughter, and Mother-In-Law, bought a farm forty miles west of Philadelphia in pastoral Chester County, PA. The area is only fifteen miles north of Chadds Ford, PA, where his art teacher's famous friend, N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), lived and worked.
While slick magazines were financed by expensive advertising and sold by mail to nationwide subscribers, pulp magazines did not depend on advertising or subscribers. The pulps sold cheap thrills from corner newsstands for pocket change. Their popular appeal to idle masses made then one of the few areas in publishing that enjoyed any profitability during the lean years of the 1930s.
Frederic A. Anderson began to travel a longer distance to visit art editors at pulp publishing houses in New York City. Although the pulps were delighted to use celebrated artists, the field was still competitive, because other excellent slick magazine artists were also forced to follow this same path to lower paying work, such as Charles LaSalle, Harry L. Parkhurst, John Striebel, Warde Traver, I. B. Hazelton, Edgar Franklin Wittmack, P. J. Monahan, Walter De Maris, Lawrence Sterne Stevens, Dean Cornwell, and Frank Schoonover.
By 1935 Frederic A. Anderson began to illustrate the pulp magazine Blue Book, which became his greatest patron for the remainder of his life.
By 1938 he and his wife had a second home in NYC. They rented an apartment in Greenwich Village at 100 West 14th Street, which is on the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and 14th Street. That location means the loft space had windows on two sides. The artist set up his studio on the uptown side to take advantage of the cool and steady glow of North Light. The other half of the space was used as living quarters.
In 1939 his painted the cover for Street & Smith Wild West Weekly.
In 1940 he illustrated a children's book, Hilla of Finland by Geneva De Malroy, with sentimental pride in his ancestral homeland.
During WWII he again registered with the selective service and was recorded to be forty-eight, six-foot-one, 195 pounds, with gray eyes and brown hair and a "scar on back of neck." He was not selected for military service.
After the war he and his wife moved to Middletown Springs, Vermont, where he continued to create story illustrations for Blue Book as well as illustrations for slick magazines.
Frederic A. Anderson died at age fifty-five on January 29, 1950.
© David Saunders 2014