Madge Geyer was born Rachel Marguerite Solomon on November 19, 1889 in Canterbury, Kent, England. Her father, Lewis Eleazor Solomon, was born in 1854 in England of Jewish ancestry. Her mother, Lydia Amenia Samuel, was also born in 1854 in England of Jewish ancestry. Her parents married in 1879 and had three children, of which she was youngest. Her older sister Ethel Violet Solomon was born in 1884, and her older brother Horace Lewis Solomon was born in 1887. They lived at 46 Bassett Road West, Notting Hill, North Kensington, London. Her father was an employee of a office furnishing company. They were a prosperous family. They owned their home and had a live-in cook and two servants.
Her brother worked with her father as a furniture salesman and her sister was a dramatic artist in the London theater world.
Marguerite Solomon was born with artistic talent and decided at an early age to be an artist. She studied art in school and graduated from a London high school in 1908. Luckily her family could afford art lessons, so she studied at several art schools in London. By the age of nineteen she began to receive portrait commissions and to illustrate publications.
During the Great War she met and fell in love with a U. S. Navy sailor who visited London on shore leave. He was William Hobart Geyer. He was born September 24, 1889 in Brooklyn, NY. He was a high school graduate. He and his family were believers of Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science, a modern-era religion that eschews medical treatment in preference to the healing properties of prayer to restore a transient harmony with the subatomic energy of God.
On September 11, 1919 she married William Hobart Geyer in London. After armistice was declared her husband was honorably discharged and the newlyweds moved to America. She sailed on the Steam Ship Northern Pacific and arrived in New York City on November 3, 1919. She was listed on the passenger manifest as five-six with brown eyes and dark brown hair.
They lived at 825 West 178th Street in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan. Their apartment was one block north from his family's home at 717 West 177th Street. Her Father-in-Law, Hobart William Geyer, was the Treasurer of the Modern Pen Company, located at 17 Battery Place in Lower Manhattan.
Her husband was hired by the Suburban Fire Insurance Exchange, located at 123 William Street in Lower Manhattan's Wall Street district.
On November 12, 1921 her son, Lewis Hobart Geyer, was born in New York City. He was their only child.
In 1923 she began to illustrate childrens' stories that were published in King Syndicated newspapers. She signed her work "Madge Geyer."
Her work was influenced by the sensational popularity of Nell Brinkley (1886-1944), who drew frizzy-haired young ladies in the style of Mary Pickford for the Hearst newspaper chain. Several other artists also drew similar dainty flappers for competing newspapers, such as Dorothy Flack, Truda Dahl, and Constance Benson Bailey.
Madge Geyer's public exposure in nationwide newspapers made her a celebrity with a busy schedule Guest Lectures at Women's Clubs around the nation.
In 1927 construction began on the George Washington Bridge, which connected Manhattan's Washington Heights with Palisades, New Jersey. Her In-Laws, Mr. and Mrs. Hobart W. Geyer, followed a popular neighborhood trend and moved across the bridge to New Jersey. They settled about thirty miles west in Denville, NJ.
Marguerite, William and Lewis Geyer followed them one year later and moved to a quaint-but-impressive three-story home at 122 Boulevard in Mountain Lakes, NJ, which is near to Denville.
By 1933 Prohibition was repealed, the Great Depression had brought widespread hardships, and the America public recognized they were living in a brand new era. Although her style of drawing had been the height of fashion during the "roaring twenties" it looked too old-fashioned for the 1930s, so King Features dropped her syndicated newspaper feature.
She found work during the 1930s as a free-lance illustrator of love pulp magazines. Her work appeared in All-Story Love Stories, Cupid's Diaries, and Love Fiction Monthly.
She also began to illustrate children's books.
In 1942 during WWII her husband, at the age of fifty-three, volunteered to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. Many patriotic Americans who were too old for military service volunteered for this branch of the armed forces, including John Falter, Raphael Astarita, Frederick Blakeslee, and Harry Steeger. They served as crew members on patrol boats that searched coastal waters for German U-Boat submarines.
After the war her husband began to study at Columbia University. He was financially secure and enjoyed learning. He also took adult continuing education classes at Adlephi College in Garden City, NY.
During the 1940s she painted the covers and illustrated the interiors of several long running children's adventure books, such as Girls Scouts, Brownie Scouts, and Dan Carter the Cub Scout. She signed this work "Marguerite Gayer," with an "a" in her last name instead of an "e," as a simplified phonetic equivalent of its correct pronounciation.
In 1952 she and her husband spent several months in Mexico, where they enrolled in a semester of study at Mexico City College. He studied history and she studied art, while learning the Spanish language and exploring Latin America culture and handicrafts.
In 1956 she and her husband bought 150 acres of subdivision land in Florida, where they built a retirement home in Fort Lauderdale.
On August 5, 1961 The Christian Science Sentinel published an article she co-wrote with her husband, "How I Became Interested in Christian Science," as an autobiographical testimony of her faith in the religion.
Marguerite Geyer died at the age of seventy-three in Fort Lauderdale, FL, on March 8, 1963.
Eight months later her husband, William Hobart Geyer, died at the age of seventy-four on November 1, 1963.
© David Saunders 2013