The Life and Works of A. C. Michael

A. C. Michael in Spain

In 1914, Hodder & Stoughton published Michael’s An Artist in Spain, in the same series as their earlier titles by Walter Tyndale, “Egypt” (1912) and “Italy” (1913). It was priced at 20/-, with an “edition de luxe” costing £2 2/-.

This book contains 26 colour plates of scenes from an extensive tour conducted by Michael and two unknown companions between 1912 and 1913.

Their tour starts by crossing the English Channel and travelling from there to Paris, where they meet up with a “jovial” and “portly” Gascon artist referred to only as H——. From Paris they take the train down to the French border town of Hendaye, where they spend a few days before crossing into Spain. The tour of Spain is mostly conducted by train, taking them gradually south until they reach Granada and from there up the east coast to Barcelona and home.

The 1912‒3 tour of Spain, from Hendaye in the north, south to the Sierra Nevada and then up the east coast to Barcelona. The lines are figurative, rather than showing train lines.

The illustrations are lovely. Although a reviewer in The Scotsman noted that some of the landscape illustrations were a little flat, which they attributed to problems of reproduction, the portraits were more successful, being all “realised in the happiest manner.”[1] The Illustrated London News, who were publishing Michael’s black and white illustrations on a weekly basis, confined their commentary on the book to informing their readers that Spain was the country which sent an Armada against England, and who “now have a English Queen”![2]

From a biographical point of view the book is somewhat disappointing, as Michael’s extensive use of “we” provides no clue as to the identity of his third travelling companion, although she is probably Dora Mary Owen, who he had been seeing since 1910 and who he took to Spain again in 1915. “H——” is likely to have been an acquaintance from Michael’s time in Montparnasse, Paris, over a decade earlier, but I have not been able to pin him down. The only other person mentioned by name is Don L——, a friend who meets them in Almazán and travels with them to Madrid.

It is clear that Michael was a great fan of Spain, and that this was certainly not his first tour. According to the opening chapter, this journey was prompted by looking at an old wineskin hanging from the wall, and recalling heady days in the Castilian sun, being refreshed by the Manchegan wine it carried, again in the company of H——.

In the 1914 Special Christmas Number of The Bookman, it is claimed that “Mr. Michael has also a deep knowledge of modern Spanish life and character. He has worked among the people there; he has lived their lives; what he does not know about Spain and its people is hardly worth knowing.” If this is more than mere marketing spiel, it is not clear when Michael could have lived in Spain. Unfortunately for this poor researcher, shipping records from the UK are only archived for final destinations outside Europe, so his to-ing and fro-ing cannot be tracked.


  1. The Scotsman, 26 November 1914, p. 4
  2. “Though the war has not at present touched Spain, it has invested all European countries with intensified interest, which will be extended to the impressions recorded in “An Artist in Spain,” written and illustrated by A. C. Michael (Hodder and Stoughton). Mr. Michael’s excellent work in black-and-white is familiar to our readers, and they will be the more ready to admire his numerous and delightful colour plates. In them, as with his pen, he has expressed well the spirit and atmosphere of the sunlit land and its people who once sent their Armada against us and who now have an English Queen.” ―The Illustrated London News, 12 December 1914, p. 2