Not much is known about William H. Thwaites, a talented American painter, illustrator, and engraver, one of the founding members of American Society of Painters in Watercolor in 1866. We know that he, among other projects, worked on several books for Hewet's illuminated household stories for little folks, including Puss in Boots, Five Little Pigs and today presented The Beauty and the Beast. We also know he exhibited at the National Academy of Design in the 1850s and at the Brooklyn Art Association in 1860s.
It's hard to find more useful info about Mr. Thwaits, nothing is known about his education, his relatives, even his birthplace or dates of his birth and death are not known. Considering he was active between the 1840s and 1870s we can still safely presume he died more than 70 years ago and his work is in Public Domain now.
This book is part of the series presenting the most popular stories for children in a picture books format. It was published in 1855 by Henry W. Hewet and printed by Brown, Loomis & Co. apart from black and white illustrations there's also one full-color illustration, the so-called frontispiece printed in oil colors and presumably inserted in the book before the binding.
As you'll see all inside pages, being illustrated or not were decorated with a stylish border, but we don't know if they were made by William H. Thwaites.
This story, which was originally a novel, is a bit simplified. For instance, we don't know the names of Beauty's sister, and their suitors are not mentioned. We are only informed all three were beautiful, yet only the Beauty's manners were fine. The beginning is classic: their father, a merchant, has lost all the ships in a storm, so the family needs to move in a small country house.
After a while, their luck changed again - one of the ships was found and the merchant regained part of his wealth back. He promised to bring rich gifts to his girls when he returns from the port and two of the sisters wanted only the most precious stuff. But Beauty wished only a safe return for her dad. When father demanded from her a wish, she said a rose would be very nice, because the roses don't grow in their garden.
Well, the merchant did everything right, just bad weather forced him to find a shelter in a mysterious castle where no living sold could be seen. When he decided to return home, he saw a beautiful rose in the garden and wanted to take it with him for his daughter.
That was a mistake.
The Beast appeared in front of him and demanded to find a reason why he returned all the favors with stealing. The merchant didn't want to answer because he didn't want to put his daughter in any kind of trouble, yet Beast already somehow knew about her wish. He gave the merchant a week to return home to say goodbye to his children but must return again and die in the castle unless somebody else is willing to take his place.
Beauty immediately saw something is wrong with her father when he arrived and he told her the rose for her will cost him his life. so she said she will take his punishment on her shoulders. After one week they both returned to the monster's castle.
When father left again, she stayed there with Beast and after some time they became friends. So good friends one day beast asked her to marry him. She couldn't say yes, because his ugliness was still too much for her. So he vanished for a few days and she started missing him.
He returned and they became good friends yet she still couldn't even think about the possibility of marriage with him. One night she had a dream about her father being sick and asked Beast for permission for visit him. It was all right with him on condition she returns in a week what she promised.
Then another change in the line of the classic story happened. It was a rose by which magic help she was able to transfer to her home in a moment and it was a rose to get back to Beast's castle. But she managed to lose it only to find it in last moments before the death of Beast. He said he'll die now and asked her again if she would marry him. Then she said yes and the magical transformation into a prince happened.
The happy ending is pretty fast - he explained her about the enchantment by which he was transformed into Beast, a great party started, her father, now healthy appeared there and her sisters too - with a twist - both changed into stone sculptures.
If you think you can handle more about the background of the story about the Beauty and the Beast, you can read next article:
Yes, this is how William H. Thwaites portrayed The Beauty and the Beasti around 1855.