Harold W. McCauley (1913-1977)

Illustration|Illustration No. 59

Harold W. McCauley (1913-1977)

Harold William McCauley was born in Chicago on July 11, 1913. His father, William James McCauley, was born in Chicago on December 28, 1890, and was of Irish ancestry.

David Saunders
His mother, Madeline F. Barry, was born February 11, 1894, also in Chicago. His parents married on May 8, 1912. Less than one year after his birth, his mother died at the age of 20 on June 9, 1914, after a complicated pregnancy with what would have been their second child. After her tragic death, Harold’s father, age 24, moved in with his widowed-mother, Christiana McCauley Grace, so that she could care for his infant son. Christiana was born in 1866 in Nebraska, and had recently married her second husband, Fred Grace. He was born in 1869 in Michigan, and worked as a machinist at a Chicago piano factory. Harold McCauley was raised by his father, his maternal grandmother, and his step-grandfather. The family lived at 3440 West 47th Street in Chicago.

Harold’s father, William James McCauley, worked at a local brewery, and he continued to work there even after Prohibition began in 1920, which reflects the power of the beer industry in Chicago during the roaring ’20s.

In 1927, at the age of 14, Harold McCauley began a three-year program of basic training in weekend art classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. His most influential art teacher was the famous illustrator, J. Allen St. John (1872-1957), who introduced the young artist to the sensational literature of Edgar Rice Burroughs. For the rest of his life, McCauley remained an avid reader of fantasy adventure stories and science-fiction.

In June of 1931, Harold McCauley graduated from high school in Chicago, after which he entered the work force. His first job was as a staff artist at the massive Cuneo Press, an engraving house located at 2256 Grove Street. The company produced most of the newspapers and magazines that served midwestern America.

In 1932, McCauley began to take evening art classes at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where his fellow students included Gillette Elvgren (1914-1980).

After the repeal of the 18th amendment on December 5, 1933, Harold McCauley’s father remained in the brewery business and eventually became a manager of the Trianon Ballroom, one of Chicago’s many historic jazz clubs.

In 1934, at the age of 21, Harold developed a chronic heart condition which would plague him for the rest of his life.


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Illustration No. 59