Walter Haskell Hinton was born on August 24, 1886 in San Francisco, California. His father was also named Walter Hinton. His mother, Mary Hinton, was a native Californian. She was nine years younger than her spouse. They had only one child. His father was a compositor in the newspaper printing shop at The San Francisco Chronicle. The family lived at 1011 Vallejo Street, which was sixteen blocks away from the Chronicle Building at 901 Mission Street.
By 1893 the family moved to Chicago, where the father had been hired as a printer at a newspaper. They lived at 403 Sixty-Fourth Street. The son was privately tutored at home, which suggests some level of prosperity.
He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1900 to 1905. His father died at the age of forty-nine on January 23, 1905. After his father's death he quit art school and began to work as a staff artist at a Chicago advertising agency.
From 1907 to 1912 he worked at an advertising agency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, while he followed business opportunities to Mexico and New York City.
In 1913 he moved to Philadelphia and opened a private art studio at 410 Walnut Street, where he sold freelance illustration for advertising. He married his wife, Marie Hinton and they live at 1411 South Fifty-Fourth Street in Philadelphia.
Two years later, while expecting their first child, he and his wife returned to her family home in Vermont, where their son, Walter Raymond Hinton, was born on June 7, 1915. Tragically, his wife, Marie, died in childbirth. His fifty-one-year-old widowed mother came to live with him to help raise his son. He never remarried.
On June 5, 1917 he reported for draft registration in Philadelphia, where he was listed as tall, medium build with brown hair and eyes. He was not eligible for military service because his mother and son, aged two, were both dependent on him for an income.
By 1920 he had moved back to Chicago, where he found work as a freelance commercial artist. They lived at 124 Hamlin Avenue, where his mother kept house and helped to raise her grandson. Throughout the 1920s he continued a prosperous career as a staff artist at a Chicago advertising agency.
By 1930 they had moved to 322 Marion Street, which was a more prosperous apartment building that rented for $130 a month.
After the arrival of The Great Depression the advertising industry collapsed. He lost his steady job and he began to work as a freelance magazine illustrator.
By the mid-1930s his cover illustrations were regularly appearing on Sports Afield and Outdooor Life. He also painted covers for pulp magazines, such as Adventure, Love Story, Western Story and Wild West Weekly.
By 1936 they moved to 709 Crescent Boulevard in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. After his son entered the Army Air Corps in 1939 he lived alone with his elderly mother. On January 10, 1943 his son, Lieutenant Walter Raymond Hinton, married Constance Drake.
During World War II, at age fifty-five, he registered for the draft, but he was too old for military service. His height was recorded to be five-eleven and his weight was only 155 pounds. His complexion was sallow, and he was listed as having a noticeable birthmark on his back. In 1944 his mother died at the age of eighty.
From 1947 to 1952 he produced covers and interior story illustrations for the pulp magazines that were published by the Chicago-based Ziff-Davis company, such as Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, and Mammoth Western.
During the 1950s and 1960s he continued to paint for several of his trusted national advertising clients, such as John Deere Tractors and Washington National Insurance, for which he created a series of paintings on the life story of George Washington. These paintings were later reproduced as a series of educational posters for schools.
Walter Haskell Hinton died in Glen Ellyn, IL, at age of ninety-four in December 1980.
© David Saunders 2009