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John Frith

1906 – 2000

John Frith, cartoonist, was born and schooled in England before coming to Sydney in 1929. Not long after he arrived, on the basis of a caricature he made during a political meeting in Martin Place, he was employed by the Bulletin, writing gag lines, drawing cartoons and supplying ideas for artists such as Norman Lindsay and Ted Scorfield. After 15 years at the Bulletin Frith became the first daily cartoonist for the Sydney Morning Herald. Five years later, in 1950, over many drinks with Stan Cross, he signed up to Keith Murdoch’s Herald in Melbourne, though he was later to doubt if a ‘more incomprehensible contract was ever signed in such dismal surroundings at such an hour’. Although its management tended to discourage the expression of his political ideas, he remained with the Herald from 1951 to 1969. After he retired he continued to make caricatures in various forms, including a series of commemorative jugs for the Bendigo Pottery. Old Parliament House mounted the A Brush with Politics: the life and work of John Frith in 2001; following the success of the exhibition, it toured WA, NSW and Victoria.

Updated 2018