Harry Hargreaves was born in Manchester on February 9 1922, the son of a civil servant. He was educated at Chorlton High School, where he began contributing cartoons to the school magazine, The Arrow, at the age of twelve. In 1936 his first published cartoon appeared in the Manchester Evening News. Leaving school aged sixteen, Hargreaves began work for an interior design company, but in his spare time studied architecture, mechanical drawing and furniture design at Manchester School of Art.
In 1938 Hargreaves became a trainee engineer, working for companies including Rolls-Royce, Ford and Kestrel Engines. In 1939 he was hired by the Manchester art agency Kayebon Press, and began assisting Hugh McNeill with his strips for the Dandy and the Beano comics, including “Pansy Potter”. In 1940 Hargreaves joined RAFVR Signals, and also began contributing to Blighty. From 1941 he served in India, Ceylon and Persia.
On demobilisation in 1946, Hargreaves became a trainee animator at J Arthur Rank's new Gaumont British Animation. After the studio closed in 1950, he freelanced until 1953, when he moved to Amsterdam to work at the cartoon and comics studio of Marten Toonder. He took over Toonder’s daily strip “Panda”, which was syndicated to a hundred and fifty european papers, including the London Evening News. Returning to Enland in 1954, Hargreaves continued drawing the strip until 1961.
In 1957 Hargreaves also began contributing to Punch, and in October 1958 had his greatest success on the magazine with “The Bird”, a series of wordless cartoon stories about a small, cheeky bird. He became one of the few cartoonists on the magazine to be paid a retainer. In 1968 he also began drawing a daily strip for the London Evening News called “The Hayseeds”, featuring talking animals and inspired by Walt Kelly's strip “Pogo”, although less political. When the Evening News switched to a tabloid format in 1974 “The Hayseeds” was dropped, but reader pressure brought it back and it ran on until 1980.
From 1969 to 1980 Hargreaves created much-loved illustrations of Michael Bond's Paddington Bear for BBC Blue Peter annuals, working closely with the author. In 1980 he also illustrated Kenneth Grahame's “The Wind In The Willows”.
Influenced by Walt Disney, Arthur Rackham, Ernest Shepherd and Leslie Illingworth, Hargreaves worked for a wide variety of publications including Illustrated, Lilliput, Men Only, Tatler, Christian Science Monitor, Countryman, Air Safety, TV Comic, Animals Magazine and Stern. He also worked for advertising clients such as Rowntrees, Dunlop, Barclays Bank, Guinness, Saxa Salt, the Coal Board, Walls and Post Office Telegrams. In the 1960s he designed promotional toys for Kellogg's cereals, and more than a hundred and fifty million sets were produced.
Harry Hargreaves died in Yeovil, Somerset, on 12 November 2004.
- Daily Telegraph, 20 November 2004, p.29, “Obituary of Harry Hargreaves Illustrator of Paddington Bear and The Wind in the Willows.”
- Mark Bryant “Obituary: Harry Hargreaves; Animal Cartoonist and Creator of the Bird”, The Independent, 22 November 2004, p.35.
- Paul Gravett “Harry Hargreaves: Popular comic strip creator adept at identifying with animals”, The Guardian, 8 December 2004, p.27.
3 uncatalogued originals [PU0566 - 0568]
2 uncatalogued original 'Hayseeds' strips [HH0001 - 0002]
Strip cuttings, 'Hayseeds' (1968 - 76)
60s; 70sback to top