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David Low

1891 – 1963

Sir David Low, caricaturist, published his first cartoon in the British comic Big Budget at the age of eleven, while resident in his native New Zealand. A year later, he had left school and was contributing two cartoons a week for the Christchurch satirical weekly, The Spectator. He briefly attended business college while continuing to submit cartoons to various publications, raising the occasional objection from employers for the political tendencies of some of his works. While working as the cartoonist for the Canterbury Times, he began sending examples of his work to a score of Australian editors each week - a strategy which eventually landed him a job with the Melbourne office of the Bulletin, which brought him to Australia in 1911. He drew many caricatures, mainly of political figures, for The Bulletin and also contributed to the Lone Hand; he is said to have 'virtually pioneered brush drawing' in Australia. His second published anthology of caricatures, The Billy Book (1918) made his name, selling 60 000 copies and invoking the wrath of its subject, Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who called Low a bastard to his face. The success of The Billy Book brought Low a contract with the London Star. He left Australia in 1919 and remained in England, working for a number of publications until the end of his life in London. Best known as the creator of 'Colonel Blimp', a reactionary character he first drew in 1932, he was knighted in 1962. Upon his death he was described as the 'dominant cartoonist of the Western world'.

Updated 2018