Roy Frederick Carnon :

his life story

Autobiography (authorised version)

I was born
at dawn in hot July,
A box of paints
on lease from heaven.
And later died
with Marian my bride
in seventy-one.
And being dead
have only read


During his early life, Roy lived in Isleworth, London.

Born 6 July 1911. Died 14 August 2002. Baptised 17th Sept 1911 at St Michael's, Southfields.

Roy's father was Frederick Wallace Carnon, b 1879, Master Undertaker, of 2 Worcester St. Pimlico. Frederick Wallace Carnon's father was Edwin Wallace Carnon (Undertaker Journeyman).  Frederick Wallace Carnon's mother was Carrie Matilda Day Carnon, formerly Steers.

Roy's mother Gertrude Eisdell Lee, b 1884, Coach Maker, of 15s Stephens Avenue. Her parents were Thomas Eisdell Lee (Coachbuilder) and Eliza Emily Chorley (Bookseller), married 23 Nov 1878. Her father Thomas Eisdell Lee was Thomas Lee (Dissenting Minister).  Eliza Emily Chorley's father was William Ball (Bookseller)

Roy's parents married 11 April 1910. Roy's father was a widower. The marriage record shows his name as Frederick William Carnon, which was in error. This was formally corrected 24 Oct 1925.

He had a sister, born when he was 3, The baby died after 3 years, having cried most of her short life.  This made a deep impression on Roy, who not long before he died, write a kind of diary in the form of letters to the dead child. 

Roy lived next door to his grand parents who looked after Roy until his mother stopped working.  Roy enjoyed his grand father's company (Edwin Wallace Carnon), as recorded in a poem. 

A second sister, Phyllis Claire Carnon, later Coomber, was born when he was 10. He drew sketches of her. Roy was very fond of her, but they had little in common and were not close as adults.

Carnon family tree

Roy's father held a senior position at Mount Pleasant Post Office, so with regular income, and better off than many, holidays were possible at the seaside, while living in a modest rented terrace house in Isleworth, which was in the countryside at that time.

Roy's grand mother, Carrie Matilda Day Carnon, died 25 March 1901, age 45, of Bronchitis at 20 Tachbrook St, Pimlico.

Roy's grand father Edwin Wallace Carnon died 25 Jan 1908 of acute Tuberculosis at 12 Worcester St, Pimlico.

Roy's father, Frederick Wallace Carnon was a Master Undertaker. He was injured in the 1914-18 war while his mother worked on war work.  In 1962 Roy dealt with the estate of Frederick W Carnon, with no tax payable.

Dorothy Gertrude Carnon, was buried 25th Sept 1917 in grave 23 U, Class CM in Park Road Cemetery, Isleworth. Rights to grave:  Gertrude Eisdell Carnon. Since Frederick Wallace Carnon was recorded as being a widower when he married Gertrude it is possible that Dorothy may have been a daughter from the earlier marriage. 

Thomas Eisdell of 13 Percy Road,  Isleworth, is recorded as owner of Grave 51 Class BA, Block U in Park Road Cemetery, Isleworth. Thomas Eisdell Lee, retired electrician, died 1st Feb 1940, age 89.

Marian Steer married Roy Carnon in 1935

Roy Carnon married Marian Steer

Roy married, in July 1935, Violet Marian Steer, born 26 July 1908, who became a Station Officer WAAF Sgt in charge of a fleet of wartime London County Council ambulances.  24 July 1948:  Roy and Marian were resident at 3 Pomona Studios, 111 New Fulham Road, Fulham, London SW6.

In 1954, Roy dealt with the estate of his mother, Mrs Gertrude Eisdell Carnon, valued at £242 13s 2d.

Later Roy and Marian lived at Waldron Down Cottage, Blackboys, Uckfield, Sussex, a few miles from Nan Tucks Lane, Buxted. Violet Marian Carnon died there in 1971 leaving a will dated 13 Dec 1967.  Roy dealt with the estate of his wife, valued at £3,965.

Roy moved to Tower View, Mere, Wiltshire and remarried in 1998, to Margaret Joyce Harrold (nee Arnold).

Art School

Roy attended Art School in Chiswick for a year. He became an illustrator, working mainly for advertising agencies and was always sketching in his spare time, in parks, on railway stations and in buses.

His first job was with the advertising department at Kingston department store, Bentnalls, illustrating articles for sale which were advertised in the Saturday papers.

Reid Paper Group's factory
Reid Paper Group's factory: News of the Coronation in printed newspaper

He spent several days making drawings at Reid Paper Group's factory which were used to produce a brochure featuring various aspects of paper production.

He used to carry a small sketch-book or pack of plain postcards for this purpose at all times.

His remarkably lively figure drawing is evident in the very many cover illustrations for Corgi Books of this period.

Fireman, then RAF navigator during WW2 (1939- 1945)

He worked as fireman in London for while, then enlisted in the RAF and was trained extensively, initially learning to pilot single and then dual engine aircraft, then attending courses on air observer, air bomber and air gunner. Eventually on 21st April 1944 after completing a navigator course he become operational and was assigned as a navigator on Sunderland flying boats, seeing service in Africa, India and the Far East as well as time on reconnaissance around the British Isles in home waters.

Bomb damage in London Blitz
Working as fireman during the London Blitz

Both as a fireman and with the RAF, he found time for sketching during London Blitz and on his travels around the world using whatever materials were to hand.


After the war Roy returned to illustration until 1965 when he was recruited to work with Stanley Kubrick (film director) on "2001, a Space Odyssey", producing original designs for spacecraft, film sets and visuals for the "wheel" space station, and earning great respect from those he worked within the film industry.

Film 2001 space station design SS5 by Roy Carnon, 1965
Film 2001 : Roy Carnon's design sketch for the SS5 space station.

Thereafter Roy worked on many well-known films as sketch-artist, including Superman, Return of the Jedi, The Bonds, The Dogs of War, Where Eagles Dare, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Reds (Sketch Artist), Dark Crystal, Frenzy, the Battle of Britain, Star Wars VI: Revenge (later Return) of the Jedi etc), The Dark Crystal, in collaboration with famous film directors - Hitchcock was a favourite.

The quality of his drawing is quite outstanding and his versatility most unusual. Roy could turn from portraiture and lively figure and animal drawing to accurate illustrations of aircraft, spacecraft and other technical work, set-design, or stylish architecture projects.

He enjoyed drawing aircraft and his children's book from the 1960's "Famous Fighting Aircraft", published by Collins, is still of considerable interest, as are his great posters for motor shows which are excellent examples of the kind for that period.

Two wartime paintings of damaged aircraft, used for target practice, are in the Imperial War Museum.

At 75 Roy retired in 1985, to Mere in Wiltshire. He married Margaret Joyce Harrold in 9 October 1998.  He continued to paint and draw, and work on many other creative projects, until his death 14th August 2002 at the age of 91 in Salisbury hospital.

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