I first discovered British illustrator Ronald Searle through his Nigel Molesworth books. As a terrible speller myself (thank you, spell check!), I felt a kinship with this skool boy who spent more time having adventures with his “grate frend” Peason than studying, and who titled the section about his teachers “Know the Enemy or Masters at a Glance.” Written by Geoffrey Willans and illustrated by Searl, the Molesworth books are still relevant for anyone who remembers their school days with less nostalgia and more gratitude that they are over. Most Searle fans, though, discovered the master through his creation St. Trinian’s School, the most malevolent group of school girls Britain had ever seen when they gained popularity in the 1940s and ’50s. In Bob’s interview today, you can hear Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes discuss her favorite St. Trinian’s cartoon (pictured here) and listen to cartoon historian Warren Bernard talk about Searle’s years as a POW in Singapore during WWII. Searle’s already dark humor turned even darker during his war years, and remarkably, he found ways to continue to draw, documenting life and conditions as a prisoner of war. After the war, it seemed Searle never let up, drawing and illustrating right up until he passed away on December 30, 2011. He illustrated a new book just a couple of years ago for Overlook press, titled Let’s Have a Bite! A Banquet of Beastly Rhymes, written by Robert Forbes.
You can read Warren Bernard’s tribute to Searle here
And go here to see Ann Telnaes’ animated editorial cartoons in the Washington Post