London: Punch, 1912. 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 "'A SEA-CHANGE” appeared thus on p.91 of the 24 July 1912 issue of Punch. The artist is Bernard Partridge. The cartoon is subtitled "('INTO SOMETHING RICH AND STRANGE')". The lengthy caption reads "First Lord of the Admiralty (at Earl's Court). 'WELL, THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE YOUR TIME; BUT OUR LOWER DECK'S AS GOOD AS EVER' Shade of Sir Richard Grenville (of the 'Revenge') 'YES; AND I HEAR THEY'RE UNDERPAID AS WELL AS EVER.' First Lord. 'AH! THAT'S ANOTHER CHANGE WE HOPE TO MAKE.'" The issue of increased pay for seamen is notionally discussed with Sir Richard Grenville, captain of the Revenge, who died in the Battle of Flores in 1591. The point is obviously a dramatization of the perennial privations of seamen, as well as a poke at Winston's ambitions for sweeping changes to the British Navy - ambitions which, despite the cartoon, he largely succeeded in making.
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 #007117