William Simpson (1823-1899)
Born in Anderston, Glasgow, William Simpson had very little formal education but served an apprenticeship as a lithographer. In 1851 he moved to London to work for Day and Son, one of the most prominent lithography firms of the 19th century, as a Special Artist. In1854 he was sent - as one of the first war artists - to make sketches of the Crimean War and the popularity of these illustrations earned him his curious nickname. He was an author of some note and a keen historian; as well as the recorder of famous events, he also made illustrations of Victorian Glasgow.
The Mitchell Library holds over 600 of Simpson’s manuscripts, scrapbooks, drawings, sketches and watercolours.
Other notable events that he covered include:
The Magdala Expedition, 1868
The Opening of Suez Canal, 1869
The Marriage and Coronation of Tsar Alexander III of Russia, 1866 and 1881 respectively
The Franco-Prussian War, 1870 - 1871
Schliemann’s excavations of Troy, 1877
Some of his watercolours of Glasgow can be viewed online as part of the SCRAN project. These can be accessed from any Mitchell Library PC, using ‘Crimea Simpson’ as a search term. Please ask library staff for information on how to access SCRAN online.