London: Punch, 1908. This original printed appearance of a Punch cartoon featuring Winston S. Churchill comes from the personal collection of Gary L. Stiles, author of Churchill in Punch (Unicorn Publishing Group, 2022). His book is the first ever effort to definitively catalog, describe, and contextualize all of the many Punch cartoons featuring Churchill.
This four-panel cartoon titled "The Great Unseated” appeared thus on p.321 of the 29 April 1908 issue of Punch. The artist is Edward Tennyson Reed. The cartoon panels are captioned
Top Left: "'In the Wild (North-) West | I am in search of a safe seat.' - Rt. Hon Winston Churchill"
Top Right: "Harlequin Winston."
Bottom Left: "A First Class Fightin' Man."
Bottom Right: "Prince Churchill's Farewell | 'Farewell Manchester! Fickle town, farewell!'"
Churchill momentously defected from his father’s Conservative Party in May 1904, becoming a Liberal and beginning a dynamic chapter in his political career that saw him champion progressive causes and branded a traitor to his class. Parting from his first constituency in Oldham, Churchill won the traditionally Conservative Manchester North-West seat in January 1906, his first election as a Liberal. It would prove the shortest relationship among the five constituencies he ultimately held. In 1908 when Churchill was appointed to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade, custom required that he submit to re-election. His 24 April 1908 by-election became a test of confidence in the Liberal government. Forced to defend the Government’s policies, targeted by vengeful Conservatives, and hounded on the hustings by Suffragettes, Churchill was narrowly defeated by the Conservative candidate. Nonetheless, Churchill’s brief time as M.P. for Manchester North-West made all things possible for him. And ten days after this cartoon was published in Punch, Churchill was elected Member of Parliament for Dundee.
As a young man, the Harrow-educated cartoonist and caricaturist Edward Tennyson Reed (1860-1933) “spent time at the House of Commons sketching politicians in action.” In March 1890 he became a permanent member of the staff of Punch and by 1894 became the illustrator of Punch’s parliamentary pages, a post he held for eighteen years. As this cartoon of Churchill testifies, Reed “had a deft hand at sketching facial attributes amidst often absurd scenes.”(NPG) Reed was popular, not only as a cartoonist, but also as an after-dinner speaker and lecturer. His drawings were published in collections, displayed at exhibitions, and even purchased by King George V. In 1912, Reed left the staff of Punch and subsequently also drew for The Bystander, the Passing Show, the Sunday Times, Pall Mall Gazette, Sunday Evening Telegraph, and the Evening Standard. (ODNB)
Punch or The London Charivari began featuring Churchill cartoons in 1900, when his political career was just beginning. That political career would last two thirds of a century, see him occupy Cabinet office during each of the first six decades of the twentieth century, carry him twice to the premiership and, further still, into the annals of history as a preeminent statesman. And throughout that time, Punch satirized Churchill in cartoons – more than 600 of them, the work of more than 50 different artists.
It was a near-perfect relationship between satirists and subject. That Churchill was distinctive in both persona and physical appearance helped make him easy to caricature. To his persona and appearance he added myriad additional satirical temptations, not just props, like his cigars, siren suits, V-sign, and hats, but also a variety of ancillary avocations and vocations, like polo, painting, brick-laying, and writing. All these were skewered as well.
Some Punch cartoons were laudatory, some critical, and many humorous, like the man himself. Nearly always, Churchill was distinctly recognizable, a larger-than-life character whose presence caricature served only to magnify. Item #007078