Roy Ullyett was born in Leytonstone, Essex, on 16 March 1914, the son of Henry John Emerson Ullyett, Secretary-Manager of the sports equipment manufacturer Slazenger. Ullyett's first cartoons were of his teachers at Earls Colne boarding school in Halstead, Essex, and when he was thirteen his first published cartoon appeared in the school magazine, The Colonian. While still at school he also won a prize for a national advertising competition organised by British Fisheries, but his teachers did not encourage art as a career. As his art teacher told him, "You have talent, Ullyett, but you are far too frivolous to ever make an impact in the art world."
In 1930 Ullyett left school to work briefly in the art department of a commercial printing company, and then became a freelance cartoonist. In 1932 he sold his first drawing to the Southend Times, and afterwards he began to draw for other publications including Wireless Weekly. A friend of Roy's father then recommended him to the theatre magazine The Era, where he drew caricatures of theatre and music hall stars. In 1934 Ullyett joined the London Evening Star as sports cartoonist, one of the rival applicants for the job being Barry Appleby.
During the Second World War the six-foot three inch Ullyett served as a pilot in the RAF, and afterwards wore a trade-mark handlebar moustache. After demobilisation in 1945 he returned to the Star, whilst also drawing strips and a weekly sports cartoon for the Sunday Pictorial, under the pseudonym "Berryman". Hugh Cudlipp, editor-in-chief of the Sunday Pictorial and Daily Mirror, then offered him a job working for both papers, but in 1953 Ullyett accepted a rival offer from Arthur Christiansen, editor of the Daily Express, to be the paper's sports cartoonist for Â£5,000 a year plus a car. Cudlipp was offended, but Ullyett remained at the Express until 1998.
Ullyett was strongly influenced by Phil May and Tom Webster. He drew very fast, using a No. 6 brush and indian ink on Bristol or Whatman board. "I draw with a brush", he explained in 1989, "so it's always difficult for me to find somewhere to put my ink": "I'd travel to a big fight and sit at the ringside at a rickety table and chair and...my ink pot would leave the table every time the bell rang to end a round." Ullyett often included a sparrow in his drawings to comment on the main action.
In 1966 Roy Ullyett was one of the founder members of the British Cartoonists' Association. In 1989 he was awarded an OBE for his charity work. By the time of his retirement in 1998 it was estimated that Ullyett had published some 25,000 cartoons. He died in Southend on 20 October 2001, aged eighty-seven.
- Peter Maddocks Caricature and the Cartoonist (Elm Tree Books, London, 1989), "Roy Ullyett."
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.229.
- Mark Bryant "Obituary: Roy Ullyett", The Independent, 24 October 2001, p.6.
- Steve Holland "Roy Ullyett", The Guardian, 25 October 2001, p.24.
- The Times, 22 December 2001, "Roy Ullyett."
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