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SEPTEMBER 19th   

On this day in history in 1963, died David Low.

Low was a cartoonist and satirist whose work was noted for his character of Colonel Blimp, and for his unflattering depictions of Hitler.

David Alexander Cecil Low was born on 7th April 1891 at Dunedin, New Zealand, son of newly arrived Scottish immigrants. The family later moved to Christchurch, where Low attended Christchurch Boys' High School. At the age of 11, Low submitted some of his artwork to a local newspaper, who published some of his sketches. He was encouraged to draw in sketch or cartoon form, a style which lent itself easily to newsprint.  

At the age of 17, he obtained a post on the Bulletin of Sydney, a journal noted for its outspoken views. Here, Low produced a number of popular and impudent cartoons of Australia's Prime Minister William ‘Billy’ Hughes, a controversial politician who often changed his standpoint on issues of the day, and eventually won popular acclaim by forming the ‘Win the War Party’. In 1918, Low published his work in book form, under the name of The Billy Book, and sent copies to British newspapers, in the hope of securing employment.  

In 1919, he was offered a job with the London Daily News group, on the Star, remaining there until 1927, when he joined the Evening Standard at the invitation of Lord Beaverbrook. Here Low produced his best work, with political cartoons of the events leading up to The Second World War. He created the character of Colonel Blimp, a hugely moustachioed stout individual, representative of the outmoded establishment, whom Low saw as bringing the country to disaster. He depicted the Trade Union movement as a carthorse, struggling to bear the load required by modern industry. He caricatured the figures of fascist dictators Hitler and Mussolini, representing them as pompous and ridiculous personalities, with no personal or endearing qualities. His work was banned in Germany and Italy and, it is said that Low was on the Nazi ‘death list’. When, after the war, Low was told that he was on the list, he relied "That is all right. I had them on my list too." On one occasion, Nazi Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels, protested to British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, that Low was damaging Anglo-German relations. Low continued his work during the Second World War, mercilessly satirising Hitler, the Nazis, the German army, and enemy occupation of European countries.  

In 1950, Low moved to the Daily Herald, and in 1953, he joined The Guardian. He received a knighthood in 1962. Low died at his home in London, on 19th September 1963. His obituary in The Guardian described him as ‘the dominant cartoonist of the western world’.

Recommended reading. 

Low, David.  Years of Wrath. A Cartoon History.

Buy it here at Amazon

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