John Cassidy - Sculptor

This site celebrates the life and work of sculptor John Cassidy (1860 - 1939).

The work has had its head and a foot broken off at some time in the past, as evidence of repair is visible.

We include here some illustrations by Ernest Marriott: The one above is from Stories from Don Quixote retold by H.L. Havell, B.A.(1908)

'A Volendam Fisherman'

This illustration accompanied Marriott's essay 'On the Zuider Zee' published by the Manchester Literary Club. As a tribute to Marriott, we have recreated this little work as a web page.

The Portico Library, on Mosley Street in central Manchester, pictured (right) in 2009, is a private subscription library, which opened in 1806 as a library and newsroom and still occupies its original site. Its mainly nineteenth-century collection is accessed by Members as well as researchers in the UK and abroad. The building also include a public gallery where regular exhibitions and events are held. See the Portico Library website.

'Lyme Regis' - a watercolour of 1904 by Marriott recently sold by Altus Arts.

Broadstone, Dorset,was the home of Alfred Russell Wallace, with whom Marriott corresponded about a poem supposed to be by Edgar Allen Poe. Could he have made the painting while visiting Wallace?

Links and references:

The Portico Library

Jack B. Yeats by Ernest Marriott: full text at the Internet Archive

The Marriott - Wallace correspondence

Edward Gordon Craig correspondence - North Western University

On the Zuider Zee by Ernest Marriott: our version

Special thanks to:

Stewart Platts

Antony Rhodes-Marriott

The Portico Library

Ernest Marriott (1913)

This little bronze statuette, just 8¼ inches (210 mm) high, of Ernest Marriott, is signed and dated 'John Cassidy 1913', and is now in a private collection in Canada. It is of particular interest to students of Manchester literary and artistic life in the period just before the First World War.

Short Biography of Marriott - by Stewart Platts

[A more detailed 32-page biography of Marriott, with illustrations and bibliography, was published at the end of 2009 as No. 37 in the Portico Library's Monograph series, written by Bryan Haworth in collaboration with Stewart Platts. It is available from the Portico Library: for mail orders please send a cheque for £3 (which includes £1 p&p)  made payable to 'The Portico Library' to  The Portico Library, 57 Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3HY.]

Ernest Marriott was born on 9 July 1882 in Clifton Street, Stretford, just outside Manchester, the son of a solicitor’s clerk who was an early Esperantist and a leading chess player in Manchester. It is not known where he went to school but he clearly received an excellent education, perhaps at a local grammar school. As a young man he studied art at Manchester School of Art,  probably at the time Walter Crane was the school’s principal.

In 1901 Marriott was appointed Assistant Librarian at the Portico Library on Mosley Street, and a couple of years later, on the dismissal of the previous post-holder, he was promoted to Librarian a position he held until 1911. 

In about 1906 he joined and became a leading member of the Swan Club, an informal dining club for writers and dramatists in the city, based in the pub of that name. Among his fellow members were Harold Brighouse , Stanley Houghton, Jack Kahane and Gerald Cumberland.  Marriott produced caricatures of most of the members and and was the illustrator of a number of books. Brighouse, in his autobiography, described Marriott as 'the most highly gifted member of the Swan Club ... he could subdue Kahane. He was, quietly and unobtrusively, Master of the Swan’s dialectical revels.'

In 1912 he met Edward Gordon Craig (the son of Ellen Terry) and was appointed as Craig’s senior assistant at his new drama school in Florence. For the next two years he travelled round theatres in Europe and wrote articles for Craig’s influential drama magazine The Mask.

On the outbreak of war Marriott travelled back to England and during his last years he was a voluntary worker at Brabyns Military Hospital in Marple, near Stockport, and until a few days before his death resulting from diabetes he was giving art lessons to wounded soldiers.

It is clear that Marriott was a remarkable character who excelled in a number of branches of the arts and impressed his contemporaries with his wit and erudition. If he had lived longer he would have probably become even better known within the field of European theatre design.

There is a possibility that Marriott’s friends and admirers of the Swan Club and the Portico commissioned Cassidy to model it as a gift to Marriott on his move from Manchester to Florence.  If you have any information about this work, please contact us.

Page created April 2009. Updated April 2011.