Low, David, 1891-1963

Alternative names
Birth 1891-04-07
Death 1963-09-19

Biographical notes:

David Alexander Cecil Low, illustrator, caricaturist, and journalist was born in 1891 in Dunedin, New Zealand. One of the most famous political caricaturists of the 20th century, he produced two dozen compilations of previously published drawings, including A Cartoon History of Our Times (1939), Low on the War (1941), and Years of Wrath (1946). The 1943 film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, was based on Low's most famous cartoon character. Low died in London on September 19, 1963.

From the description of David Low papers, 1897-1985 (inclusive) 1920-1963 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702131702

David Alexander Cecil Low was born in 1891 in Dunedin, New Zealand, to David Brown and Caroline Flanagan Low. At an early age the Low children were removed from school because their parents felt that the educational system inhibited their natural intellectual curiosity and growth. Thereafter the children were educated by their parents at home and encouraged to develop their talents; David's was drawing. At the age of eleven he sold his first cartoon. This was the beginning of a career as one of the most famous political caricaturist of the twentieth century.

As an adolescent, Low sold drawings, cartoons, and caricatures of local individuals to various illustrated publications in New Zealand. At seventeen he landed his first full-time job as political cartoonist with the Christchurch Spectator, where he worked for three years. In 1911 Low left for Australia to work on the Bulletin, where for the next nine years he thoroughly learned his trade and produced The Billy Book, a compilation of caricatures of Billy Hughes, Australia's colorful prime minister. This was the first of dozens of similar works Low would produce throughout his life. Having gained recognition as one of the most talented young cartoonists in the Empire, Low accepted an invitation to work in London, arriving there in December 1919.

He began his London career with the Star . Soon after his arrival he married Madeline Kenning of Auckland, New Zealand, whom he had met on the trip. In 1927 Low began his twenty-three-year association with Lord Beaverbrook's Evening Standard . This union of an arch-liberal caricaturist with an arch-conservative newspaper proved highly successful. Low established a worldwide reputation as a champion of democracy and freedom against the forces of aggression and fascism. His caricatures of Mussolini and Hitler stirred the hearts of millions. During this same period Low created his most famous cartoon character, Colonel Blimp. He left the Tory Evening Standard in 1950 for the Labour Daily Herald and in 1953 joined the Manchester Guardian, with which he remained associated until his death in 1963.

During his professional career Low developed friendships with many leading individuals in literature, the arts, journalism, and politics. Toward the end of his life he received numerous honors, including a knighthood in 1962. David Low died in London on September 19, 1963.

For further biographical information, see Low's Autobiography (1957).

From the guide to the David Low papers, 1897-1985 (inclusive), 1920-1963, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


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  • Art--British (?)--Reproductions
  • World War, 1939-1945--Journalists
  • English newspapers--GreatBritain
  • Cartoonists--Correspondence
  • Caricatures and cartoons
  • Cartoon characters
  • English newspapers
  • Caricatures and cartoons--History
  • Political cartoons
  • Art, British
  • Caricatures and cartoons--Great Britain
  • Journalism--Great Britain
  • Cartooncharacters--Great Britain
  • Journalism
  • Political satire, English
  • National socialism
  • World War, 1939-1945--Caricatures and cartoons


  • Artists
  • Cartoonists--Great Britain
  • Authors--Great Britain


  • Australia (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Australia (as recorded)
  • New Zealand (as recorded)
  • New Zealand (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • New Zealand (as recorded)
  • Spain (as recorded)
  • Spain (as recorded)