British Cartoon Archive


Antonia Yeoman was born Beryl Thompson on 24 July 1907 in Esk, Queensland, Australia. She was the daughter of Arthur Henry Thompson, an English rancher whose family were merchant shippers trading with Australia out of Liverpool. In 1911 the family visited England, staying with relatives in West Kirby, Cheshire, where her brother, Harold Underwood Thompson, was born in April of the same year and her father died in June. The family decided to stay in Britain, and eventually settled in Brighton.

From the ages of nine to fifteen Yeoman was confined to bed with Tuberculosis of the spine, and in her teens she lost two fingers of her right hand, subsequently learning to write and draw with her left. In her early twenties she became a Roman Catholic, and took the name "Antonia". In 1928 she attended the Royal Academy Schools, and studied art under Stephen Spurrier for a year before becoming a freelance commercial artist. She produced advertising posters and showcards with her brother Harold, who was then working as the cartoonist "H. Botterill". In 1937 they formed a partnership producing cartoons over the signature "Anton". "I was quite modern when I started", Yeoman later remembered: "I was told a couple of bishops had given up Punch when I started drawing for them."

Harold's ideas and exaggerated style were important to the partnership, and the "Antons" in the Evening Standard in 1939 were entirely his. Yet after the war his job as director of an advertising agency left him less time for drawing. Yeoman took complete responsibility for the work of "Anton", and from 1949 the cartoons were entirely hers. The drawings of spivs, forgers, dukes and duchesses were very popular, and appeared in Tatler, Lilliput, Men Only, New Yorker, Evening Standard, Private Eye and Punch. As The Times commented, "she could conjure up with great skill the atmosphere of the smart cocktail party, the plushy restaurant and the fashionable milliner's, where one of her large, expensively-preserved matrons might be trying on not altogether suitable hats ('It's an appalling price.' 'But, modom, it's an appalling hat.')."

The only female member of Punch's Toby Club, Thompson was also the first woman elected to the Chelsea Arts Club, where her husband John Yeoman, Mayor of Chelsea and Secretary of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, was already a member. Yet she was still doubtful about her work. "I wake up in the morning in terror wondering if I'll be able to think of any more jokes", she told an interviewer in 1965: "This is the satirical age and I don't know whether I can do it...I still can't do it on my own...I'm not really interested in politics or news, so that makes it difficult." Yeoman also drew a series of popular advertisements for Moss Bros, and others for Simpson's Services Club, Morley Outfitters, Saxone Shoes, etc. Beryl Yeoman died in Chelsea on 30 June 1970.

  • Michael Bateman Funny Way to Earn a Living: A Book of Cartoons and Cartoonists (Leslie Frewin, London, 1966), pp.73-4.
  • Evening Standard, 30 June 1970, p.14, "First Lady of Cartooning Dies in London."
  • The Times, 1 July 1970, p.13 col.7, "Anton: Popular woman cartoonist."
  • Daily Telegraph, 1 July 1970, p.12, "Mrs Antonia Yeoman."
  • Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), pp.248-50.
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