George Worsley Adamson

Illustrator and humorist


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Cartoon Index
Humour runs like a sparkling brook through the work of George Worsley Adamson. Perhaps the fact that in the back of his mind he is busy thinking up humorous ideas and always has a twinkle in his eye has something to do with it. Even in his most serious work we are aware of an underlying wit and sympathy (see Illustration in Periodicals and Book Illustration).

Editors and art editors such as Fougasse (Kenneth Bird), Malcolm Muggeridge, Russell Brockbank and William Hewison at Punch, Kaye Webb at Young Elizabethan, Macdonald Hastings at Country Fair  or F. J. Salfeld of the London Day by Day column at the Daily Telegraph provided strong background encouragement. Changes in editorship had an immediate effect on Adamson’s cartoon career.

‘One of the last things that happened under Hollowood’s editorship was that Punch accepted a cover by George Adamson which showed Mr Punch sitting at an easel in the middle of a stretch of English countryside. Beside him was a book called How to Paint Like the Great Masters[sic], and the landscape which Mr Punch was trying to paint was in fact modelled on the great masters, because the Van Gogh trees on the right merged into a Samuel Palmer hillside, then into a Gainsborough or Constable field ... To make the landscape itself look like a collaboration between the masters was a brilliant idea. George did it brilliantly and we all thought it was a brilliant cover. One of the first actions by the new editor, William Davis, was to reject the cover. He didn’t understand it. Or, if he did understand it, he didn’t think it was funny. Or, if he thought it was funny, he didn’t think enough other people would find it was funny. No, let’s face it; he didn’t understand it.’
Miles Kington in his introduction to The Punch Cartoon Album: 150 Years Classic Cartoons (ed. Amanda-Jane Doran), Grafton Books, London, 1990

Here is as full a list as we could muster of work Adamson puts under the heading of humour.


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