KERNS, Miriam

1848 - 1913

Just Like Mama

Miriam Kerns, was born at Sheffield, Yorkshire on 13 May 1848, daughter of Revd Thomas Kerns, MD (1806-1861), curate of St James, Ecclesall Bierlow, Yorkshire, and his wife Eliza Maillard née Dolphin (1816-1879). In 1851, a 2 year old, living at 12 Wilkinson Street, Ecclesall Bierlow, Yorkshire with her parents, 42 year old Thomas, born Ireland, and 36 year old Eliza, born in the West Indies, with her elder sister, 4 year old Salome, born in Dublin. Miriam studied art in Italy, France and in Germany, her father being posted to Egypt, Syria and Turkey, she travelled a great deal whilst she was young. Prior to her marriage, she painted portraits but earned her living illustrating children's books published by George Routledge and Sons, including 'Twilight Stories' by E. H. D. Kay (1873), 'Rosine, and The Young Coasters: Stories in Prose and Verse for Little People' by Melville (1877), 'Tempest Tossed: The Story of Seejungfer' by Margaret Roberts (1881) and 'The Old Farm Gate: Stories in Prose and Verse for Little People' by E. E. Edwards (1883), 'A Simple Story of a Woman's Repentance' by George Melville and 'The Woman With Two Words by Sarah Tytler' (1885) and continued to illustrate children's books under her maiden name of Kerns, even after her marriage. A member of the Ipswich Fine Art Club in 1879 and exhibited from 146 The Grove, Hampstead, London in 1879 a watercolour, 'New Baby Love Mama', and at the Ipswich Art Club she met her future husband Percy Weekes [q.v.] and they married at Walton-cum-Felixstowe, Suffolk on 16 August 1880. In 1883, they and their one-year old daughter Elma, emigrated to a farm outside of Sebastopol, California where their second child Vivienne Weekes Wilson was born in 1886. Whilst living in the Sebastopol area, both Miriam and Percy Weekes continued to work part-time as artists but neither were farmers and they sold the farm on 14 February 1894 and moved to the Oakland, California area and became full-time artists. Miriam specialised in portraits but continued to illustrate books and California text books and returned to England to exhibit her painting 'The Diary Maid' at the Royal Academy and also exhibited at San Francisco Art Association 1885-1900, the Mechanics' Institute of San Francisco in 1888 and the California State Fair 1892. Miriam continued to be an active artist until her death in Oakland, California on 23 October 1913.