British Cartoon Archive

About

Harold Underwood Thompson was born in West Kirby, Cheshire, on 9 April 1911. His father, Arthur Henry Thompson, was an English rancher in Australia, but his son was born while the family was visiting relatives in England. In June 1911, while still in England, his father died, and the family decided to remain in Britain, eventually settling in Brighton.

Thompson studied life drawing at Heatherley's from 1931 to 1932, lettering at St Martin's School and Art in 1934, and printing at Bolt Court. In 1935 he also took private classes in illustration at Stephen Spurrier's school and, after applying for a permit, spent two years drawing antique furniture in the V&A from 1936. Self-taught as a cartoonist, he used the pseudonym "H. Botterill" and contributed drawings to Bystander from 1935 to 1937, and Night & Day in 1937. In 1937 Thompson formed a partnership with his elder sister Beryl, a commercial artist who had studied at the Royal Academy Schools. Beryl had taken the name "Antonia" on her conversion to Catholicism some years before, and together they produced cartoons for Punch over the signature "Anton" - although the weekly "Anton" cartoons in the Evening Standard in 1939 were entirely Thompson's work.

During the Second World War Thompson served in the Royal Navy, commanding minesweepers and convoy escort vessels, and he was twice mentioned in dispatches. Naval service interrupted his drawing during this period, but Antonia continued to produce cartoons with the signature "Anton." After the war they teamed up again, and together produced numerous "Anton" cartoons for Punch, Lilliput, London Opinion, Men Only and others. However, Thompson quickly became committed to other work, and in 1949 Antonia took over the cartoons entirely. Thompson eventually became a senior director of Lonsdales international advertising and marketing organization.

A former member of the Artworkers' Guild, Harold Underwood Thompson also wrote a number of short stories, designed posters and showcards for Orient Shipping Line and others, and drew advertisements for clients including Northern Aluminium. An admirer of the artists of the New Yorker, he worked mostly in black and white with a very flexible Gillott 290 nib and indian ink, using colour occasionally for Christmas issues and other special numbers. Harold Underwood Thompson died in Wells, Somerset, on 21 November 1996.

  • Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), pp.223-4.
back to top

University of Kent - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000

Contact Us | Copyright | Problem with page? | CARD | CARD blog | Site map | Terms & conditions

Last Updated: 21/03/2016