THE SOFT-WORD PUZZLE. - an original printed appearance of this cartoon featuring Winston S. Churchill from the 24 March 1926 edition of the magazine Punch, or The London Charivari
London: Punch, 1926. 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 SOFT-WORD PUZZLE." appeared thus on p.311 of the 24 March 1926 issue of Punch. The artist is Leonard Raven-Hill. The image is captioned "Mr. Baldwin. 'CAN ANYBODY THINK OF ANOTHER WORD FOR "SUBSIDY"?" Churchill was then in the second year of his tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the cartoon, attempting to address coalminers' grievances over wages and mine conditions in some way other than a coal subsidy, the Government searches a library for books of synonyms. Baldwin and Churchill ponder the right "soft-words," while Neville (on ladder) searches the references and F. E. Smith puffs a cigar. Philip Cunliffe-Lister, President of the Board of Trade, stands above Churchill.
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 #007144