Jolly Good Fellow

Jolly Good Fellow

An excuse to cross the river. The Edward Ardizzone (1900-79) show at the House of Illustration in the newly developed Kings Cross precinct. Over 100 pieces that reflect this Royal Academician’s  career as book illustrator, author, war and commercial artist and above all a thoroughly good fellow.

My interest comes , initially, from Ardizzone being  one of my old school, Clayesmore’s favourite sons. He was there 1913-18, his two younger brothers followed.

Although winning most of the prizes on offer, team selection, athletic and boxing cups, a national art medal and prefectship he considered his time at school a failure. His father a French Italian worked  for what became Cable and Wireless in French Vietnam and was largely absent as was his mother for long periods. Edward felt himself large and ungainly and , maybe sapped by his parents absence, said “My non  success at school was not due to being a rebel. I wish it had been as it would have been a more respectable reason.”

In his last year he resigned his prefectship  as this involved beating other  boys.”When I had the unpleasant task of giving an official caning to a boy I could not for some inexplicable reason hurt him. My victim felt it   was something of a joke.”  He was just, as all his  pictures show a very human being. And in terms of confidence, like many, a later developer.

Clayesmore’s real influence came through Desmond Coke , an author/collector/man of letters who was invalided out of the Great War to a housemastership. He ran the school’s Arts Club. Several years later,1926, having attended art school Ardizzone went to Coke then living in the Albany. Coke advised book illustration as his best opportunity. With this advice and a windfall from Cable and Wireless the artist, gave up his City job and launched his eventually highly successful career.

He was awarded a CBE which pales before the universal love that is still awarded his work. We all have our favourites,mine is his book of pubs,The Local.See link.




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