Eric Burgin was born in Maidenhead on 3 February 1926 and educated at Gordon Road School in the town. At fourteen he left school to become an engineering apprentice in a local machine shop, but in 1943 joined the RAF as an air-gunner, and served in Singapore and the Far East. Burgin began drawing cartoons in 1945, whilst in the RAF in Singapore, but after the war he returned to Maidenhead to work in a factory producing aircraft components.
Burgin's first cartoon appeared in Punch in 1951, and in 1954 he became a full-time freelance cartoonist, publishing numerous cartoons in the Daily Mirror, Punch - including covers, and other publications. He also produced a series of illustrated anagrams called "Anagrins" for the Evening News, and a series called "The Nitelys", about a family of television fanatics, for the Daily Sketch. Living in the suburban town where he was born and grew up, Burgin's cartoons depicted a suburban lifestyle that was instantly recognisable.
An influential cartoonist, Kenneth Bird (Fougasse) said that Burgin's ideas had "a touch of Thurber" about them. He was one of the founder members of the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain, and was voted CCGB Humorous Cartoonist of the Year three times, in 1962, 1963 and 1964 - leading him to be considered "the top joke cartoonist of the day." Yet Burgin's approach to cartooning was very practical. "I'm one of those people who draw for money," he told an interviewer in 1965, "not for pleasure." Eric Burgin died of a heart attack, aged forty, on 5 March 1966. In his Evening News obituary Joe Lee called him "the most brilliant of our younger men."
- Ian J. Scott (ed) British Cartoonists Year Book 1964 (London, 1963), p.96.
- Patrick Skene Catling "Eric Burgin", Punch, 10 November 1965, pp.686-7.
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), pp.42-3.
'Anagrins' strip cuttings, 1958 - 66
'The Nitelys' strip cuttings, 1966
50s, 60s (1958 - 66)back to top