Classic Cartoons: Martin Plimmer on William Sillince

CONSIDERING WHAT a vicious period of history it was, the Second World War produced some remarkably gentlemanly cartoonists.

Looking back through Punch at the work of Pont, Crum, Fougasse and Sillince, we see reflected a time of good humour and good manners, in which the most noticeable aspect of the British character is a limitless reserve of cheerful resilience.

Sillince, who worked as an advertising designer before the war and an art lecturer after it, produced much of his best work during the war years, his social observations as gentle as his soft pencil strokes, which were further diffused by his use of grained paper.

Punch's good-humoured ethos was finally spiked during another vicious era - the Eighties.

But by this time the British character had changed too, and cheerful resilience proved no match for the need for instant gratification and mass indifference.