Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Toast of the Week - Ronald Searle

This week, we are raising a glass to mark the passing of Ronald Searle, the gifted and witty cartoonist who brought Nigel Molesworth to life and gave us the original St Trinians.

The skills honed in the appalling conditions of an Asian prisoner-of-war camp developed in peacetime into a distinctive style that captured the popular imagination and inspired and clearly influenced later generations of cartoonists.

I could choose from any of dozens of iconic works to illustrate this piece, but I have chosen a new discovery; published last year, 'Les Tres Riches Heures de Mrs Mole' is an affectionate reworking of a medieval Book of Hours.

Made for his wife when she was undergoing chemotherapy many years ago and only just released to the public, the drawings show Mrs Mole going about her daily chores in the beautiful Provencal house the Searles had just bought.

Searle had his dark side - the St Trinian's girls exuded menace on all sides and what reader of Molesworth could forget the sinister Gabbitas and Thring kidnapping a young man and taking him off to be a schoolmaster? - but these pictures have a warmth and charm that any artist would be proud to leave behind as a parting gift.

Image courtesy of The Bloghorn

There is much, much more at this blog celebrating Searle's work.


  1. Gabbitas and Thring kidnapping a young man and taking him off to be a schoolmaster?

    Gabbitas used to include Truman but I think he was convicted.

  2. Ahem - as any fule kno, this is a grate loss to St Custard's and our sense of the deliciously absurd.

  3. JH, What price tradition? A bit of research suggests they have rebranded much of their action under the new name of 'Tomorrow's Achievers' - far less inspiration for the cartoonist's pen.

    AKH, one hopes that somewhere a bell is tolling 'Clang-pip! Clang-pip!'


Moderation is on as I’m having some technical difficulties with Comments