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Will Dyson

1880 – 1938

Will (William Henry) Dyson, cartoonist, caricaturist, writer and draughtsman, was born in Alfredtown, near Ballarat, and studied for a short time in Melbourne, where he worked closely with his older brother Ambrose. Dyson's first cartoon appeared in the Sydney Bulletin in 1897, in which year he also exhibited in the first show of the Society of Artists. Thirteen years later he married Ruby Lindsay, sister of his friend Norman, and they all went to London together, but the two men soon quarrelled irrevocably. In the first years of World War I Dyson's cartoons became famous in London and he gained a large intellectual following. He was appointed an official war artist for the AIF in 1916, and his Australia at War (1918) remains one of the most powerful tributes to Australian involvement in the conflict. Dyson returned to Australia after Ruby Lindsay died in the worldwide influenza epidemic of 1919. He was feted in Melbourne, where he subsequently worked for the short-lived Punch and the Herald and exerted some influence on the local art scene. During this period he drew portrait caricatures of visiting celebrities including Anna Pavlova and the opera singer Fyodor Chaliapin. Dyson left Australia permanently in 1930, stopping in New York, where his drypoint etchings were well received, before settling in London.

Updated 2018