Lawrence Sterne Stevens was born December 4, 1884 in Pontiac, Michigan. His father was the Reverend Lawrence Sterne Stevens, M.A., Rector of the Zion Protestant Episcopal Church, a passionate visionary leader, whose portrait still hangs in the church. The father was sixty-two at the time of his birth. The mother, Kate, was thirty-eight, and had previously given birth to six children. Lawrence Sterne Stevens was the youngest.
By 1900 he and his parents lived in Pontiac at 147 West Pike Street, along with his brother Willard's wife and a three-year-old daughter.
In 1905 at age twenty-one he moved to Minneapolis, to work as a newspaper pressman and cartoonist for The Minneapolis Journal. He attended night classes at the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts on the top floor of the public library, at Hennepin and 10th Streets. He studied under the German born artist, Robert Koehler. Koehler was the most outstanding artist in Minneapolis at that time. He had studied at the Royal Academy in Munich and taught at a private art school, where the young Alphonse Mucha had been his pupil. Mucha went on to become a leader of the popular Art Nouveau movement. He visited the U.S. from 1906 to 1910. In 1907 Mucha earned a regular income teaching at art schools in New York and Chicago. While traveling by train between these cities, Mucha stopped in Minneapolis and visited his former teacher and met his star pupil, Lawrence Stevens.
With the encouragement of Koehler and Mucha, Lawrence Stevens moved to Belgium in 1910 to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. While in Belgium he became friendly with the famous writer, Arthur Canon Doyle.
In 1914 the German Army invaded Belgium and the British declared war. As an American citizen, Stevens was forced to flee to England, where he joined the U. S. Navy. His language skills and four years of residence in Belgium was a value asset to the Office of Naval Intelligence. He soon held the rank of Lieutenant and was sent into the front lines. He served as a cartographer and was captured by the Germans and accused of spying. After having been forced to dig his own grave, he was rescued by advancing troops only minutes before facing the firing squad.
After the war he returned to Belgium to study art at the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts Bruxelles.
In 1919 he married a Welsh beauty named, Myvanwy, (pronounced mih-VAN-wee), age twenty-six. She was also an artist and had studied in Paris. When the birth of their first child was expected they returned to her family home in Wales. There they had a son, Peter Stevens, who was also to become a pulp artist.
From 1925 to 1937 Lawrence Stevens worked as a designer and illustrator for the General Motors Company in Brussels and Antwerp.
In 1939 the German army invaded Poland and war was declared. As an ex-patriot American he moved his family in 1940 to New York City. They lived at 116 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village.
In 1941 he began his career as a freelance illustrator in NYC. Lawrence Sterne Stevens and his father the Reverend had the exact same name, so to protect his father's good name,the artist preferred to publish illustrations under a pseudonym. He signed his work with only his first name, "Lawrence."
In April 25, 1942 he reported for his draft registration and was recorded to have brown eyes, gray hair, and a light complexion.
In 1943 he drew interior story illustrations for Argosy. Remarkably, at that same time his son, Peter Stevens, age twenty-three, was also selling freelance cover paintings to that same magazine.
1948 to 1953 he painted covers for Amazing, A. Merritt's Fantasy Magazine, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and Fantastic Novels.
In 1950 at age 66 he and Myvanwy moved out of their Greenwich Village apartment and moved to a South Norwalk, Connecticut, to live with his son's family.
In 1953 at age sixty-nine he retired from professional illustration. That same year the entire family moved to a farm in Lewisboro, NY, which is only ten miles north of Norwalk, CT.
Lawrence Stevens died at age seventy-six at the Norwalk Hospital in 1960.
© David Saunders 2009