Tom Cottrell was born in South Mimms, Hertfordshire in 1890, the son of Charles Henry Cottrell, who moved to Sheffield to work as Party Agent for the Conservative Party. Cottrell left school at fourteen to become an engineering apprentice with Linotype, assembling and maintaining printing machinery. Eventually he went to work at the Sheffield Telegraph as an illustrator.
By 1914 Cottrell was publishing cartoons in Punch and other papers. He served in the forces during the war, but still produced work for magazines, including Sea-Pie Magazine and the first issues of Blighty, the official armed services magazine. After the war Cottrell worked for the Beaverbrook group of papers as lobby correspondent and press cartoonist. In 1924 Stanley Baldwin became Prime Minister, with Winston Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Cottrell produced a cartoon of the whole cabinet. Afterwards Churchill called out to him as they passed in a corridor at the House, "Hey, Cottrell I want a word with you, you did a drawing of me showing me wearing funny shoes - You are right, I do wear funny shoes, but nobody else has noticed."
Cottrell's work continued to appear in the Evening Standard and Sunday Express, but he also did a lot of jobbing work, including spot illustrations, book jackets, advertisements and ephemera. In 1929 the tobacco company Carreras commissioned Cottrell to produce caricatures of "Fifty Notable MPs" for use on cigarette cards, in a series that included Lloyd George, Ramsay MacDonald, and Winston Churchill.
Cottrell continued to do freelance work for a range of publications from London Life to Farmers Weekly, sometimes signing himself "S. Seymour". In 1939 he took a job on the editorial board of Blighty, which had been relaunched for wartime, and he continued to work for the magazine after the war, in its peacetime version - Blighty: The National Humorous Magazine. However, Cottrell complained about the increasing "Americanisation" of the cartoon market, in which the old highly-finished pen and wash drawings on board were replaced with a relentless supply of simple one-liner gags drawn on typing paper. He saw this as driving down prices and increasing the workload, and produced his last published cartoon in the late 1950s.
Cottrell produced work under a number of pseudonyms, including seaside postcards as "Jolly." Tom Cottrell died at his home in Bexhill-on-Sea in 1969.
- Information from the family.
1 uncatalogued original WH6260
Box of artwork, sketches, cuttings books and publications
50 cigarette cards "Notable MPs" 1929