John Musgrave-Wood was born in Leeds on 22 February 1915, the son of Gerald Musgrave-Wood, a painter of landscapes and maritime scenes. One of three brothers, all of whom were artists, Musgrave-Wood's parents originally intended him to be a businessman. He was educated at Leeds Modern School, and afterwards did administrative work in an advertising agency, but his artistic temperament soon became evident and, bored with office work, he left to study at Leeds College of Art.
After only eighteen months, Musgrave-Wood decided to sail round the world, and signed up on a cruise liner. "I just went with a friend to Tilbury and signed up", he later recalled: "I thoroughly enjoyed my life...I eventually rose to the august position of chief fruit steward. It was I who decided how many grapes went on to each passenger's plate." During cruises to the Mediterranean, Ceylon, Australia and New Zealand, he supplemented his salary by selling sketches to the passengers for thirty shillings each. Returning to London he taught art with one of his brothers in Whitechapel's Jewish youth clubs. His father meanwhile died, and the family moved to Cornwall, where his mother set up an antiques business.
On the outbreak of war in 1939 Musgrave-Wood enlisted as a Physical Training instructor in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, and was later commissioned in the Sherwood Foresters. He was sent to India, where in 1941 he volunteered for General Orde Wingate's Special Force of long-range guerrillas - the Chindits - serving behind enemy lines in the jungles of Burma. He took part in both of Wingate's expeditions, rising to become second -in-command of a battalion of Karen tribesmen in the Burma Rifles, with the rank of major. In 1944 Musgrave-Wood and a fellow Chindit, Major Patrick Boyle, produced a humorous account of their experiences, illustrated with cartoons, which was published two years later as Jungle, Jungle, Little Chindit.
Musgrave-Wood signed his wartime cartoons "Jon", but afterwards changed his signature to "Emmwood" - based on his surname - to differentiate himself from John Philpin Jones, then working for the Sunday Pictorial, who also signed himself "Jon". In 1948 Musgrave-Wood began contributing to the Tatler & Bystander, not only cartoons - "Emmwood's Aviary" - but also theatre caricatures, as the successor to Tom Titt. He also began studying painting at Goldsmith's College in London. His ambition was to be a painter or an art teacher, but a tutor told him "Why bother - you're obviously a cartoonist." In 1953 he was asked to provide an illustration for the showbusiness page of the Sunday Express, and afterwards became a regular contributor, ending his work for the Tatler & Bystander in 1954. He also became editor of the Junior Express, and in 1955 Beaverbrook asked him to become political cartoonist on the Evening Standard.
In 1956 Musgrave-Wood was offered the job of staff cartoonist on the Daily Mail, as deputy to Leslie Illingworth. Unhappy with developments at Express Newspapers, which wanted to turn the Junior Express into a children's comic, he duly resigned from the Evening Standard, where he was succeeded by Jimmy Friell. At the Daily Mail from January 1957 his work alternated with that of Illingworth, but he also drew television review illustrations for Punch and contributed to Life magazine. He often included dogs in his cartoons, and reportedly planned a strip cartoon about his beloved dachshund, Susie. In 1963 he was thus "furious for weeks" when the Daily Mail chose Alex Graham to draw its "Fred Basset" comic strip, about a basset hound.
Musgrave-Wood's drawings were characterised by a clean line - usually in brush and Indian ink on board - and a dry sense of humour. His political stance was generally right of centre, and he couldn't abide what he saw as hypocrisy. He delighted in lampooning the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, whom he held was more of a radical Tory than a socialist. After Illingworth's retirement from the Daily Mail in 1969, Musgrave-Wood's cartoons alternated with those of his successor "Trog" (Wally Fawkes). As Fawkes recalled, Musgrave-Wood was difficult to get along with, being "very insecure": "He thought everybody was after his job." In the event it was Fawkes who left, and from 1971, when the Daily Mail absorbed the Daily Sketch and became a tabloid, Musgrave-Wood's cartoons alternated with those of the former Daily Sketch cartoonist "Mac" (Stan McMurtry).
One of the founder members of the British Cartoonists' Association in 1966, Musgrave-Wood always saw himself as a people's cartoonist. "I travel by train, bus, and Tube", he told one interviewer: "I think editors lose touch. I try to do a cartoon people understand." However, in August 1975, aged sixty, he decided to retire, giving his reasons as "boredom with politics, senior personnel and editors who thought that they, being whizz kids, knew more about cartooning than cartoonists with forty years' experience." He moved to the South of France, where he died at Vallabrix in Provence on 30 August 1999.
- Michael Bateman Funny Way to Earn a Living: A Book of Cartoons and Cartoonists (Leslie Frewin, London, 1966), pp.18-20.
- CSCC Archive, Keith Mackenzie's typescript biography with Emmwood's notes, and transcript of Rosette Glaser's interview with Wally Fawkes, 17 September 1977, p.9.
- June Southworth "Portrait of a talent bubbling with fun", Daily Mail, 22 September 1999, p.69.
- Mark Bryant "Obituary: Emmwood", Independent, 24 September 1999, p.7.
- Denis Gifford "John Musgrave-Wood", Guardian, 29 September 1999, p.26.
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), pp.160-1.
3391 catalogued originals (MW0001 - 3391)
2 boxes sketchbooks
1 box pulls
276 photos - Box: Drawer 12 (A)
50s; 60s; 70sback to top