Harry Devlin was born in Jersey City on March 22, 1918. When Harry was just eight years old, his artistic talent became evident. In the third grade at the William Livingston School in Elizabeth, a picture he drew on the blackboard so amazed the teacher. He continued to flourish through junior high school, where he became the sole illustrator for the school’s main publication, The Marquis.
In 1935, Harry graduated from high school. He then began attending Syracuse University, and majored in illustration. During his senior year he met his future wife, Dorothy Wende, majoring in Fine Arts. They were married on August 30, 1941 and had seven children.
On October 30, 1942, Harry began his active duty in the Navy as an Ensign. He was assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence and assumed responsibility for all illustrations necessary for members of the armed services to identify enemy planes. Rising to the rank of lieutenant at the end of World War II, Devlin returned to a private life and began a ten-year association with Collier’s Weekly. He created editorial cartoons and illustrations for the magazine’s advertisements and articles. From 1946 to 1955, in addition to his work for Collier’s, Harry illustrated the stories written each week by Bob Considine and Dorothy Kilgallen for the Saturday Home Magazine. During the early 1950’s Harry also produced editorial cartoons for The New York Daily News. Unlike Collier’s, he developed his own themes and enjoyed the creativity of the experience. However; when the News asked Harry to print a cartoon in support of Senator Joseph McCarthy, Harry refused as a matter of principle, and was promptly fired. By 1957, Collier’s Weekly was out of business, as television succeeded in taking over most of the advertising market.
In 1963, his wife (Wende known by her friends) wrote and Harry illustrated Old Black Witch, which along with its two sequels, have sold over one-and-one-half million copies. A long list of children’s books came in time; most were written by Wende and illustrated by Harry.
Today, Devlin’s works can be found in several New Jersey private, corporate, and museum collections including the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum and the Morris Museum of Art.
Harry Devlin passed away in November 25, 2001