Eileen Soper

Eileen Soper (1905-1990) was born in Enfield but lived the great majority of her life at Harner Green near Welwyn in Hertfordshire. The daughter of illustrator George Soper, she was only fifteen when her work was first accepted by the Royal Academy. She specialized primarily in animals and children, and was a founding member of the Society of Wildlife Artists. Eileen painted watercolors and illustrated many books including "The Famous five" series by Enid Blyton. Soper was elected to the Royal Society of Miniature Painters in 1972.
George Soper was obsessive about germs, and, as they grew older Eileen and her sister became obsessed with the idea that the Dread Disease (i.e. cancer) could be caught from coughs and sneezes. They became recluses. Servants and gardeners who retired or died were not replaced in case the newcomers imported the Dread Disease, and their 4-acre garden became a wild, overgrown nature reserve. Provisions were ordered by telephone and delivered to the garden gate so that they did not have to meet shop-keepers. Both sisters lived to be over 90 and died within a few months of each other.

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