Fanny Cory

Fanny Cory was a nationally recognized cartoonist from Camano Island.

The Dorsey family is planning a big shindig in honor of the family matriarch who launched the next generations of artists represented at Sunnyshore Studio.

Studio owner Jason Dorsey explained that his mom, Ann Corey Dorsey, is the granddaughter of Fanny Y. Cory, who was a nationally recognized illustrator and cartoonist who lived on Camano Island for nearly 20 years.

The family is celebrating the 140th anniversary of the birth of Fanny with the release of a book about her life and a documentary film.

The biography, “Queen of Montana Beach,” written by Toni McCarty, is published by Sunnyshore Studio. The author used letters, poems and notes from Fanny’s four grandchildren, including Ann Cory.

“They shared personal memories of their grandmother,” McCarty acknowledged in the book.

In Stanwood, McCarty met with Sayre Cory Dodgson, Fanny’s daughter. She traveled to Montana to meet other descendants with assistance from the Montana Historical Society.

She said it was inspired by the interest of Jason Dorsey, who wanted to honor his great-grandmother.

Setting the stage and time, the book begins with the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which was vivid in Fanny’s mind, even though she wasn’t born until 1877.

In her imagination, she remembered seeing the fire from the family farm 25 miles away in Waukegan, Illinois.

She didn’t like school, because “all I wanted to do was make pictures.”

When the family ended up in Manhattan, she attended the Metropolitan School of Art and the Art Students League, where William Merritt Chase was a teacher.

She began illustrating children’s books in 1898 and created popular comic strips such as Sonnysayings and Little Miss Muffet from 1926 to 1956, in an age when women cartoonists were rare.

Fanny’s work appeared in publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Woman’s Home Companion. She illustrated a number of books, including a version of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and a volume of Mother Goose. She was a member of the prestigious Mermaid Club with Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt, among others.

She married a rancher in Montana and raised three children there.

It wasn’t until 1947 that she purchased a cottage on Camano Island, across the street from where her daughter Sayre Dodgson lived. She named the shoreline below her house Montana Beach, and she earned the moniker “Queen of Montana Beach,” the title of the new biography. She painted many scenes of the view from her window looking over Saratoga Passage before she died in 1972.

Some of those paintings will be displayed at Sunnyshore Studio, when the family celebrates the anniversary of her birth on Saturday, Oct. 14, with a book release party and a documentary film, about the life of Fanny Y. Cory.

The show will continue on Saturday, Oct. 21. For more information, see sunnyshorestudio.com.

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