The Rev. John Phillips, the artist's father.


The artist's father was an itinerant Wesleyan Methodist Minister, the Reverend John Phillips, who was from a farming family of North Wales. Walter Joseph Phillips was born at Barton-on-Humber, in Lincolnshire, England, on October 25, 1884. His mother, Sophia Blackett, was from Leeds. Walter was educated in various schools, and soon demonstrated an inclination for drawing. Such activity was not encouraged by his father, who thought that Walter should also become a Minister, but his mother was more sympathetic. Eventually, while the family was living at Burton-on-Trent, Walter attended evening classes at the Municipal School of Art and Science. Enrolled at a boarding school at Quinton, near Birmingham, he won a scholarship in mathematics in 1898 which he spent on tuition at the Municipal School of Art in Birmingham. More instruction in art was received from the Municipal School of Art and Science in Great Yarmouth. In 1902, a visiting uncle who was working in South Africa suggested that Walter and his older brother might also find gainful employment there, so Walter spent his savings on passage to South Africa.


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