I think you're in for a treat if you will be discovering May Wilson for the first time. She was a wonderful illustrator and extremely popular as well as wildly successful in her time. I have samples of her work in all three of the most prestigious monthly magazines of her early days: Century, Harper' and Scribner's.
May was born as Mary Wilson in New York in 1873. (May was a nickname for Mary very popular at the time.) She studied art at Oberlin College, OH and after graduation, at the Art Students League in NYC under Robert Henri -- as did my mentor, Harold Irving Smith -- and John Sloan.
She was a participant in the struggle for women's rights and challenged her right as a female student to attend life drawing classes. This was a young woman with great strength of character as well as an abundance of talent.
Click on each of the following images for an enlarged view.
The earliest sample of her work that I have is from an issue of Harper's Monthly Magazine for September of 1903. The article is entitled "Hunting for an Apartment" by May Isabel Fisk in a section of the publication called Editor's Drawer. The caption reads,"We are just pretending to be married." The character on the left seems to be clumsily drawn—note the bad hands and broken legs—whereas the young couple and their dog are extremely well done and not noticeably dated for that period.
This is the only other example of her work that I have where she is May Wilson-Watkins. I have no idea whether she was using a hyphenated name in the style of Europeans after her days of study in Paris with the famous James Whistler, or that it is a married name.
From Scribner's Monthly Magazine for January 1904.
May Wilson-Watkins is now credited as May Wilson Preston in Scribner's Monthly Magazine for August 1904. The author was a social activist in his time and this is a humorous story about an anarchistic parrot.
May Wilson or May Wilson-Watkins married the artist, James Moore Preston. Each was a member of the Ash Can School and exhibited at the famous Armory Show of 1913 that took place in New York City.
These illustrations were done in much the same style as her husband's work shown here in the center image.
By 1910, May Wilson's work became much brighter and more mainstream and we will go there with further examples in the next batch of uploads.
From an article in Scribner's Monthly Magazine January 1910.