Glan Williams was born in Pentrechwyth, Swansea, Wales, on 1 September 1911. At the age of fourteen he won a scholarship to Swansea School of Arts and Crafts, where he studied from 1925 to 1930, and while at the school he had some drawings published in the South Wales Evening Post and the Western Mail. In 1930 he went to London, and, at the age of nineteen, began working as political cartoonist on the Sunday Express, while also contributing business, sports and strip cartoons to the Daily Express, and illustrations for short stories to the Daily Herald.
In 1940 Williams joined the Welsh Regiment, and for part of the war was attached to a camouflage unit in Norwich, with Roland Penrose and Oliver Messel. As he later commented, "the Army adapted itself amazingly well to my unconventional conception of soldiering." After demobilisation in 1946 Williams worked in advertising for the George Hopkinson Organisation and Fanfare Displays. He also painted murals, and continued as a freelance cartoonist, publishing in Tribune, Time and Tide (including covers), and Sporting Life. In 1954 the Tatler and Bystander, for which he provided covers and illustrations for theatre reviews, featured him as "The Tatler's most recent discovery of a satirist of the contemporary scene."
In 1958 Williams submitted some cartoons to the selection committee of the "Great Challenge" cartoon exhibition, being organised in London by the International Federation of Free Journalists. The editor of the News Chronicle, Norman Cursley, was involved with the exhibition, and saw some of Williams' work. Victor Weisz ("Vicky") had left the News Chronicle four years earlier, and Cursley wanted someone to work alongside his replacement, Arthur Horner. He offered Williams a job as staff political cartoonist, and he worked on the News Chronicle until it merged with the Daily Mail in 1960, when preference was given to the Daily Mail's established political cartoonist John Musgrave-Wood ("Emmwood").
Williams also provided cartoons for Reynolds News and, after it merged with the Sunday Citizen in 1962, worked for that paper until its closure in 1967. Three years later, when George Gale became editor of the Spectator, he recruited Williams to provide illustrations and covers, which he did until 1976. He also contributed to the G. & M.W. Journal, What's On in London (especially from 1976 to 1982 including covers), Pacemaker (including covers), Nursing Times, and the Evening News. From 1976 to 1986 he was a regular contributor to the House Magazine, drawing many cover portraits of politicians.
An admirer of the work of Augustus John, Williams was influenced by Bert Thomas, Strube, David Low and Tom Webster. He worked in pen and ink, pencil, brush and watercolour, usually signing his work "Glan Williams", but sometimes "Glan" or "Glan W." He also painted in oils and used pastels. Williams considered cartooning "an important job of work", but in the last years of his life he was dogged by respiratory problems, and reduced his workload. Williams died in London in June 1986. What's On in London noted on his death that his friends would miss "his ebullient conversation, which reflected his constant enthusiasm for old-time socialism, rugby football and all things Welsh."
- CSCC archive, cutting from The Tatler and Bystander, 18 November 1954, "Our Christmas Contributors", copy of FCI Press Release, 15 October 1958, "The 'News Chronicle's' New Editorial Cartoonist", and cutting from the News Chronicle, 7 November 1958, "The Lighter Side".
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.242.
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