Brian Bagnall was born in Crumpsall, Manchester on 22 April 1921, the eldest son of Vincent Bagnall, a businessman working in the Lancashire cotton industry. The family was Catholic, and from 1933 to 1938 Bagnall studied at Xaverian College in Manchester, where he began cartooning.
On the outbreak of war in 1939 Bagnall joined the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry, transferring to the Royal Artillery in 1941. Taken prisoner near the Belgian border, Bagnall was a POW in Germany from 1944 to 1945. From 1946 to 1952 Bagnall studied at Liverpool University School of Architecture, and afterwards worked as a professional architect. In 1957 he became a sales executive for Bison Concrete, remaining with the company for twenty-three years.
With the restructuring of the RMC Group in 1980, Bagnall decided to turn full-time illustrator and cartoonist. His drawings appeared from 1982 in Private Eye - where from 1984 to 1990 he illustrated the "Dear Bill" column, History Today, Boz, Spectator, Punch, Oldie, Observer and elsewhere. His influences were eclectic, but he always admired the work of Beardsley, Bentley and Searle. He declared that he would "draw until the tumbril arrives", and sent his last cartoon to The Oldie from his hospital bed, three weeks before his death on 11 August 2004.
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.11.
- Mark Bryant "Obituary: Brian Bagnall", The Independent, 18 August 2004, p.29.
- Daily Telegraph, 18 August 2004, p.23, "Obituary of Brian Bagnall Cartoonist and Chairman of the Arts Club."
- John Rayman "Obituary: Brian Bagnall", The Guardian, 8 October 2004, p.31.
- There is another English-born cartoonist and caricaturist named "Brian Bagnall" currently working in Germany - www.bagnall.de/htm/ebrian.htm