Britain’s greatest cartoonists punched above their weight to provide a humorous, often satirical salve to the pressures of wartime life

It may seem strange that while Britain was reeling from Hitler’s bombs, the British found ways to ‘laugh it off ’.Indeed, laughter in the face of the enemy, under the toughest circumstances, proved a morale booster and helped steel the nation for a long conflict.

Comedians, actors, writers and the public exuded humorous defiance, but one of the best surviving examples of this often self-deprecating humour can be seen in the works of several great British illustrators. Many, such as Giles or Strube, published political cartoons in the daily newspapers. However, other artists drew inspiration from the strange new routines of wartime life and their work was published in satirical magazines or compendiums. The foremost publication was the now defunct Punch (1841-2002), of which pre-eminent historian Asa Briggs commented “recaptures the mood of the period perhaps more evocatively than any other source.”

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