London: Punch, 1911. 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 cartoon titled "THE WINSTON TOUCH.” appeared thus on p.321 of the 1 November 1911 issue of Punch. The artist is Edward Tennyson Reed. The cartoon is captioned "Unless our Artist's eyes played him false during a hasty visit to Portsmouth, it would appear that the Service is already coming under the Influence. The eager, impetuous, lunging crouch which has developed in the Naval circles during the last few days could have but one origin. (Please note also the advent, on the right, of the new 'Bantam' cocked hat, which is plainly a flattering imitation of Mr. Churchill's world famous Midget-Homburg. It will, of course, be universally adopted as soon as arrangements can be made for its supply.)
Churchill had been appointed First Lord of the Admiralty on 25 October 1911. He would serve until mid-1915. When this cartoon was published, just a week into Churchill’s tenure, already his considerable influence was the subject of satire. In the years ahead, Churchill would work feverishly to prepare the British fleet before the start of the First World War, converting it from coal to oil, building high speed ships with 15-inch guns, and establishing the Royal Naval Air Service. By May 1915 Churchill was scapegoated for the Dardanelles disaster and forced to resign. But eloquent testimony to Churchill’s efficacy as First Lord came from his last ministerial visitor, Secretary for War Lord Kitchener. There was no love lost between the two men. Churchill had been variously at odds with Kitchener ever since 1898 when Churchill, then an upstart junior officer and war correspondent, harshly criticized Kitchener in his second published book, The River War. On 25 May 1915, Churchill was “waiting at the Admiralty to be formally relieved of his office” when Kitchener paid Churchill the unexpected honor of a visit to the Admiralty, inquiring about Churchill’s political fate and plans. Churchill himself later recounted: “As he got up to go he turned and said, in the impressive and almost majestic manner which was natural to him, ‘Well, there is one thing at any rate they cannot take from you. The Fleet was ready.’” (The World Crisis: 1915, p.374-5)
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 #007101