Will Bradley collaborated with poet Nixon Waterman several times over the course of his career; the successful booklet, So Different, was the second such collaboration. Waterman provided the “little story told in rhyme” about a marriage saved by the purchase of a Garland stove from the Michigan Stove Company and Bradley provided the “sundry picturings.” While Bradley lived in Chicago, the pair even performed a live show where Waterman read his work and Bradley created illustrations inspired by his words. Over his long career, Bradley worked with many writers. In the short letter to Mr. R. L. McCordell displayed here, Bradley acknowledged receipt of payment for his work and added, “I try to be very careful when I place my work but with your poem it is bound to be in good company.” Roy Larcom McCordell was an American writer who often contributed to the satirical magazine Puck.
This illustration from The Chap-Book belongs to a set of three inspired by modern dance pioneer Loïe Fuller. The illustrations accompany an essay by Herbert Stuart Stone on Bradley himself. Stone presents a talented artist on the cusp of greater success: “It is not, however, for his work in Vogue or The Inland Printer that one chooses to praise Mr. Bradley most: it is rather for the promise of good things to come which these drawings give.” Bradley moved from Chicago to Springfield, Massachusetts, in late 1894. He continued to take commissions from clients in Chicago, but soon began to find local work as recognition of his skills grew.