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Harry Furniss (1854-1925)

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Harry Furniss, 1880

Henry (Harry) Furniss (b. Wexford, 26 March 1854; d. Hastings, 14 January 1925) was a cartoonist, illustrator and pioneer animator. The son of an English engineer father and a Scottish mother, he was educated at the Wesleyan College, Dublin, where he produced The Schoolboy's Punch. He contributed cartoons to Zozimus (1870-1872), and was the chief cartoonist for Yorick (1876).

He moved to England in the 1870s to work for the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and The Illustrated London News. He moved to The Graphic, writing and illustrating a series of supplements titled "Life in Parliament". In 1880 he began contributing to Punch, and in 1884 joined the staff of the magazine, providing illustrations for "The Essence of Parliament", among other features, and contributing articles and cartoons.

He always drew William Gladstone with a large collar, and although Gladstone never wore such a collar, his cartoons convinced many people that he did. He was a staunch Unionist, identifying as English rather than Irish, and his caricatures of Irish nationalists were particularly scathing: he portrayed Swift MacNeill, for example, as a gorilla, making the MP so angry he physically assaulted Furniss.

Furniss Soap

Good Advertisement: "I used your soap two years ago; since then I have used no other", Punch, 24 April 1884

He left Punch in 1894 after he discovered they had sold the copyright in one of his drawings (left) to Pears Soap for use in an advertising campaign. He started his own magazine, Lika Joko, which was an initial success, but in 1905 he was persuaded to merge it with the Pall Mall Budget to create a new magazine, The New Budget, which was not successful and soon closed.

He was also a good mimic, and toured Britain from 1888 with his illustrated lectures on the "Humours of Parliament" and "The Frightfulness of Humour". In 1912 he moved to the USA and worked in the film industry with Thomas Edison, helping to pioneer animated films, producing War Cartoons and Peace and Pencillings in 1914. His two-volume autobiography, titled The Confessions of a Caricaturist, was published in 1902, and a further volume of personal recollections and anecdotes, Harry Furniss At Home, was published in 1904.

Furniss wrote and illustrated twenty-nine books of his own, including Some Victorian Men and Some Victorian Women, and illustrated thirty-four works by other authors, including the complete works of Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray.

ReferencesEdit

  • B. P. Bowen, "Dublin Humourous Periodicals of the 19th Century", Dublin Historical Record Vol 13 No 1, 1952, pp. 2-11
  • Simon Houfe, The Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators, Antique Collectors' Club, 1996, p. 145
  • Rebecca Minch, "Furniss, Harry", Dictionary of Irish Biography, (Eds.) James Mcguire, James Quinn, Cambridge University Press, 2009
  • John Adcock, Harry and Harold Furniss, Yesterday's Papers, 2008
  • John Jensen, ‘Furniss, Henry (pseud. Lika Joko) (1854–1925)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004, accessed 20 Aug 2010

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