Friday 7 October 2022

Ronald Searle - part 9

The son of a railwayman, Ronald Searle was born in Cambridge on 3 March 1920, and educated in the town at the Boys' Central School. He started work as a solicitor's clerk, and then joined the hire purchase department of the co-operative Society, studying in the evenings and later full-time at the Cambridge Daily News from the age of fifteen.

Enlisting in the Royal Engineers at the outbreak of the Second World War, he spent time in Kirkcudbright, where he encountered evacuees from St. Trinian's, a progressive girls' school situated in Edinburgh.

This resulted in his first cartoon for Lilliput, published in October 1941, and later developed into one of his most famous creations, through a series of books and their cinematic spin-offs. Remarkably, he survived the horrific experiences of the Changi Camp, Singapore as a Japanese prisoner-of-war and managed to produce a visual record of life in a prison camp.

On his return to England in 1945, he exhibited the surviving pictures at the Cambridge School of Art, and published Forty Drawings. The exhibition and volume together established his reputation as one of Britain's most powerful draughtsmen, and led to several opportunities to record the atmosphere of post-war Europe. He contributed to Punch and these drawings crystallised in, The Female Approach (1949). Throughout the fifties, he produced a large variety of illustrations, which together seemed present a guide to life in Britain in the 1950's.

Such was his success that his rejection of family and country in a move to Paris in 1961 came as a great surprise. However, it offered a fresh start, resulting in several solo shows, including a major exhibitions at the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, the Berlin-Dahlem Museum and the Wilhelm-Busch-Museum, Hanover. He also reached a new audience with his contributions to film and television, most notably The Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965).

Note: Searle did so many works that I want to post here, that I will post them in two separate series: 1940-1960, and at a later date: 1961-2007.

For a more detailed biography see part 1, and for earlier works, see parts 1 - 8 also. 

This is part 9 of a 13-part series on the works of Ronald Searle, dated 1940-1960:

1954-1962 Le théâtre à Paris. Drawings originally published in Punch magazine:





Chateau en Suede

Histoire de Rire
(History of Laughter)

Il est Important


Jacques ou la Soumission
(Jacques or the Submission)

Kean… M. Pierre Brasseur

(The Lark)

(The Stranger)

(The Egg)

La Bonne Soupe
(The Good Soup)

La Grosse Valse
(The Big Waltz)

La Machine a Coudre
(The Sewing Machine)

La Mamma
(The Mother)

La Mouette
(The Seagull)

La Reine et les Insurges
(The Queen and the Insurgents)

La Route Fleurie
(The Flowery Route)

Le Cardinal d'Espagne
(The Cardinal of Spain)

Le Chateau
(The Castle)

Le livre de Christophe Colomb
(The Book of Christopher Columbus)

Le Mal Court
(The Evil is Spreading)

Le Sexe Faible
(The Weaker Sex)

Le Séducteur
(The Seducer)

Le Voyage

Les Cyclones

Cupid's Dart - Les Fausses Confidences
(False Confidences)

Les Fourberies de Scapin
(The Deceits of Scapin)

Un Fil a la Patte
(Strings Attached)

Pour Lucrèce
(For Lucretius)


Pauvre Bitos
(Poor Bitos)


Mon Faust

Madame Sans-Géne

Lucy Crown

Les Suites d'une course
(The aftermath of a race)

Les Pupitres
(The Pulpit)

Les Oiseaux de Lune
 (Moon Birds)

1955 Modern Types By Geoffrey Gorer & Ronald Searle:

Front Cover

Aunt Mattie


Flinching McWhoolie, M.P.

Lady Something

Marlene Jones

Miss Bullock

Miss Francesca

Miss Rowbotham

Miss Victoria Chamberlain

Mr Boniface

Mr Bountiful

Mr Callow

Mr Lloyd Carter

Mr Murger

Mr Noall

Mrs Greenbelt

Mrs Kitty Wake

Mrs McGhoul

Mrs McMammon

Professor Blank

Rev. Basil Lamb

The Hon. Mrs Peddy-Green