A Brief History of British Political Cartoonists The Daily Cartoonist

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An article takes time to read, but a photo immediately appeals to us. In the 18th century, William Hogarth pictorially campaigned against idleness, cruelty and drink and Thomas Rowlandson invented comic strips. But it was after 1805, when James Gillray portrayed a small, hungry Napoleon with William Pitt, that the cartoon – a distillation of news, character and opinion – became a feature of English life.

From Gillray, Tenniel, Low, Giles to the modern Scarfe, Trough, Bell, Brookes and Matt Charles Harris, to Country Life, sums up the British political cartoon.

Searle wrote, ‘It is not enough for a good cartoonist to be a competent artist with a sense of humor. He must have a political bias that is narrow and strong… he must laugh at public opinion to what he thinks it should be.”

Postscript: In Praise of Matt

Small consolation to the current political turmoil in Britain is the genius of the Telegraph cartoonist Matt, who makes a little cartoon every day, without fail.

Think of the cartoons he drew in the week before and after the fall of Liz Truss as prime minister after her turnaround in policy.


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