Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Ronald Searle (1920-2011)
In February 1942, Searle, serving with the Royal Engineers, was captured by the Japanese during the fall of Singapore and was held in apalling conditions in a POW camp before being forced to work on the Siam-Burma railway in Thailand.
Freed in 1945, he returned to the UK where he had, before the war, begun selling cartoons to the Cambridge Daily News and Granta. He sold widely, but his cartoons in Lilliput featuring tearaway schoolgirls torturing staff, visitors and each other with their antics caught the public imagination. They had first appeared in 1941 when Searle drew a cartoon of some schoolgirls for the pleasure of two schoolgirls from the Academy for Young Ladies in Edinburgh — St. Trinnean's — who had been evacuated to the coast at Kirkcudbright, where Searle was stationed. He submitted the cartoon, along with other samples, to the assistant editor of Lilliput, Kaye Webb (whom he subsequently married in 1948).
The bulk of the St Trinian's cartoons appeared between 1946 and 1951, were collected in a number of books — Hurrah for St Trinian's, The Female Approach, Back to the Slaughterhouse, The Terror of St Trinian's and Souls in Torment — and inspired a series of films, beginning with The Belles of St Trinian's in 1954.
Searle subsequently drew cartoons for dozens of newspapers and magazines, wrote and illustrated many books and received many awards, including the OBE in 2004.
Obituaries: BBC News (3 January), Daily Telegraph (4 January), The Guardian (4 January), The Independent (4 January).
Further information: Wikipedia.