It’s unfortunate for the world that Chicago-born illustrator Virginia Frances Sterrett only completed three books before she died at 31 following a long battle with tuberculosis, because her work is absolutely gorgeous. Luckily, she got an early start on her craft, drawing her first picture at the age of 2. The precociousness eventually paid off: the staff of the Art Institute of Chicago was so impressed by Sterrett’s ability that they brought her on as a student tuition-free, and a few years later, she was commissioned by the Penn Publishing Company to illustrate Old French Fairy Tales by Comtesse de Segurshe. Click through for a slideshow of some of the resulting pictures — a mix of pen and ink drawings and water colors — and try to keep in mind that she only received $500 for her work on the project.
Image credit: Virginia Frances Sterrett. Image via 50 Watts