Brian Bagnall

Cartoonist and illustrator of Private Eye's 'Dear Bill'

Although Brian Bagnall was nearly 60 before he decided to become a professional cartoonist and illustrator, his stylish, witty and usually captionless drawings quickly established his reputation as a humorous artist. For more than two decades his work appeared in a wide variety of publications - notable amongst these being the illustrations for
Private Eye's "Dear Bill" series lampooning the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis in the late 1980s.



Brian George Mary Bagnall, cartoonist and illustrator: born Manchester 22 April 1921; married 1950 Joanna Macgregor (one son, four daughters); died Shalford, Surrey 11 August 2004.



Although Brian Bagnall was nearly 60 before he decided to become a professional cartoonist and illustrator, his stylish, witty and usually captionless drawings quickly established his reputation as a humorous artist. For more than two decades his work appeared in a wide variety of publications - notable amongst these being the illustrations for Private Eye's "Dear Bill" series lampooning the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis in the late 1980s.

Brian Bagnall was born in Crumpsall, Manchester in 1921, the eldest of five children of Vincent Bagnall, a statistician working for the Fine Cotton Spinners and Doublers Association. His mother was Catherine Delahunty and his paternal uncle George, the first general manager of Rolls-Royce, is credited with inventing the automobile silencer. Coming from a strongly Catholic family (unusually for a boy, one of his Christian names was actually Mary), he studied at Xaverian College, Manchester (1933-38) and began drawing cartoons while at school.

During the Second World War, he served with the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry (1939-41) and the Royal Artillery (1941-46), achieving the rank of captain. In 1944 he was captured by the Germans near the Belgian border and was a prisoner of war (1944-45) in Oflag VIIB in Eichstätt, near Munich. While a POW, his first illustrations were due to be published in the camp magazine, Touchstone (edited by a fellow prisoner, Elliott Viney, of the printers Hazell, Watson and Viney), but they were destroyed by "friendly" fire when Allied planes bombed the printing works.

Bagnall decided to become an architect and, after being demobilised, he studied at Liverpool University's School of Architecture (1946-52), where he was also art editor of the student magazines Sphinx and Pantosphinx (1947-50) and won the Fulbright Award in 1950. He then worked as a professional architect in London for Hows & Jackman (1952-57) and later as a sales executive for Concrete Limited (1957-80) of which he became a director. During this period he also illustrated a cookery book for Odhams in 1954 and four books on architecture.

When Concrete Limited restructured in 1980, Bagnall decided to pursue a lifetime ambition and became a full-time cartoonist and illustrator. His first cartoon appeared in Private Eye in November 1982 and he also contributed to History Today, Boz, The Spectator, Punch, World Medicine, The Oldie, The Observer and other publications.

In addition, he illustrated a number of books, including Brian Ford's 101 Questions About Science (1983) and Another 101 Questions About Science (1984), Sonia Allison's I Can't Cook (1984), Private Eye's "Dear Bill" series (1985-90) - written by Richard Ingrams and John Wells - and various books on architecture and law for Blackwells and Penguin.

A great admirer of the work of Aubrey Beardsley, Nicolas Bentley and Ronald Searle, Bagnall usually drew in black and white using an Elysée pen on small pieces (A4 or A5) of Caslon paper but occasionally also used wash and watercolour.

As well as solo exhibitions at the Arts Club in London (1983) and Surrey University Arts Gallery (1984, 1986, 1989) his work also appeared in group shows at the Cartoon Gallery, London, and in exhibitions of British artists in Warsaw, Belgrade and elsewhere. In addition, his drawings were featured in Private Eye's 35th anniversary exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 1996.

In 1950 Brian Bagnall married Joanna Macgregor, an occupational therapist, and they had a son and four daughters. For more than 50 years (from 1952 until his death) he was also custodian of Shalford Mill, near Guildford, Surrey - a picturesque 18th-century watermill owned by the National Trust - and lived and worked on the premises. A member of the British Cartoonists' Association, he was also a member of the Arts Club and served as its Chairman from 1976 to 1982.

Of medium height (5ft 6in tall), clean-shaven with brown hair and grey-blue eyes, Brian Bagnall was very much a gentleman of the old school. Softly spoken, and always impeccably dressed, he was much liked and admired by his colleagues, young and old, and was never happier than in the company of friends with a pint of good beer and a cigar in his hand.

A talented poet - as those who received his humorous greetings cards can testify - he was a great lover of Welsh sheepdogs, and took considerable pride in his unusual Sinclair C5 three-wheeler car.

Mark Bryant

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick