George Paterson Gale was born on 11 June 1929 in Leven, Fife. He went to a local school, and then trained as an engineering draughtsman in Leven. He did his National Service from 1949 to 1951 with the Royal Army Medical Corps in Aldershot, where he designed scenery for amateur dramatic performances. After National Service Gale returned to Scotland, but then moved to London to study briefly at St Martin's School of Art.
In 1952 he left art school to work as a graphic artist at Ravenna Studios, producing catalogues for Harrods and other high-profile clients. He also began to freelance as a cartoonist, contributing work to newspapers and magazines such as Tit-Bits, She and the London Evening Standard. Gale later began producing regular cartoons for Tribune and Socialist Commentary, although he was never himself a socialist. William Rees-Mogg, editor of The Times, saw some of the Tribune cartoons and in 1973 invited Gale to draw political cartoons for the paper's newly launched "Europa" supplement. His best-remembered contribution was a pastiche of the Bayeux Tapestry, running across the top of six pages of the supplement in January 1973.
In 1977 Gale left Ravenna Studios, and concentrated on his cartoon work, contributing to the Economist, Financial Times, and other European newspapers and magazines, as well as to The Times until 1980. After that he drew cartoons for his local Richmond and Twickenham Times until 1986, when Max Hastings, editor of the Daily Telegraph, invited him to fill the place of Nick Garland, who had left the paper to help found the Independent.
Gale worked as editorial/political cartoonist on the Daily Telegraph until 1990, when Hastings invited Garland to return to the paper. As his son recalled, Gale accepted the return of Garland "with his characteristic good humour and lack of bitterness", and returned to freelance work, becoming editorial/political cartoonist of the parliamentary weekly, The House Magazine, for which he drew covers and political caricatures. In July 2002 Gale returned to Scotland, living in Edinburgh but continuing to draw for The House Magazine, and travelling to London for meetings. George Gale died in Edinburgh on 17 September 2003, after a short illness.
Influenced by Gillray, Cruikshank, Low and Vicky, Gale worked mainly in pen and ink, gouache and crayon. His obituary in The Times described his style as that "of the illustrator turned cartoonist, rather than of the cartoonist": "His training showed clearly in the skilful composition and execution of his drawings...The corollary was a habitual lack of edge or bite."
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), pp.85-6.
- Tim Dawson and Anne Toomey "Making new Scots of the old foe", Sunday Times, 30 March 2003, p.14.
- Mark Bryant "Obituary: George Gale", Independent, 23 September 2003, p.18.
- The Times, 23 September 2003, p.35, "George Gale."
- The Times, 1 October 2003, p.39, "George Gale."
- Daily Telegraph, 3 October 2003, p.31, "Obituary of George Gale."