Segment of a full page sequential cartoon with the title 'Ideal Holiday'.

Leslie Illingworth, who also signed his work as "MacGregor", was a mid-20th century Welsh cartoonist and caricaturist, best remembered for his work for Western Mail (1920-1927), Punch (1931-1969) and the Daily Mail (1939-1969). He is most famous for a controversial 1954 cartoon in Punch, which depicted Winston Churchill as a visibly aging man and caused much uproar.

Early life and career
Leslie Gilbert Illingworth was born in 1902 in Barry, Glamorgan, Wales, as the son of an quantity surveyor at Barry Railway & Docks Company in Yorkshire and a teacher. In 1912, the family moved to Gileston. After finishing school, Illingworth found a job at the lithographic department of Western Mail, because his father knew the chief editor personally from the golf course. He also became a cartoonist for the paper's Saturday night supplement Football Express. He worked as a courtroom sketch artist for the same paper as well. At the Western Mail, Illingworth assisted the renowned political cartoonist J.M. Staniforth. When he passed away in 1920, Illingworth succeeded him. His first editorial cartoon about politics appeared on 11 October 1921, and he stayed with the paper until 1927.

This makes Illingworth a rare case of an artist who already had a job before even starting higher artistic studies. Even more extraordinary is that Ilingworth kept studying for decades. He started off at the Cardiff School of Arts in 1917, where he drew cartoons for the college magazine Pen and Pencil. He continued at the Royal College of Art and, from 1921 on, at the Slade School of Art in London. Even in the late 1920s he was still studying abroad in Berlin and at the Academie Julian in Paris. One of his fellow students was the future cartoonist Ronald Niebour. But Illingworth's main graphic influences were Bert Thomas and especially Carl Giles.

On 27 May 1931, Illingworth joined Punch magazine. He quickly found other publication opportunities as well, joining Nash's, Passing Show, Red Magazine, Strand Magazine, Wills' Magazine, Answers, Tit-Bits, London Opinion, Good Housekeeping and Life.

The Daily Mail
In 1938, the artist heard that The Daily Mail's house cartoonist Percy Fearon, aka Poy, was about to retire. He sent in his work under the pseudonym "MacGregor", afraid that he wouldn't be hired because of his fame as a Punch cartoonist. He abandoned his familiar detailed drawing style too, although drawing more quickly would also allow him to reach his deadlines better. The plan worked and from November 1939 on, Ilingworth was the Daily Mail's new house cartoonist. He stayed with the paper until 1969. Each week, he made one cartoon for Punch and four for the Daily Mail. But by combining two different styles and working for two different publications, he still found himself battling the clock. Illingworth sometimes had to work long nights to get everything finished in time.

"The Dogs of War" (2 September 1943).

Illingworth was always the first one to point out that politics didn't really interest him, even though he often sketched in Parliament and even made propaganda posters for the British Ministry of Defense. During World War II, his cartoons were also printed and translated into Dutch to appear in De Vliegende Hollander, a newspaper the Royal Air Force dropped by plane in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. It gave the people in the occupied zone crucial information about the Allied advancement. Illingworth also reminded everybody that his finest cartoons were all thought up by his editors, while he merely illustrated them.

Nevertheless, he was far more socially conscious than he made it appear. He was a supporter of the Labour party and familiar with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' writings. During the 1926 general strike, he produced his own plates when the art department of the Western Mail refused to print them. And Illingworth's cartoons had a huge cultural impact. Although Hitler had banned the Daily Mail in Nazi Germany, Allied Forces still found a newspaper cut-out by Illingworth in the ruins of Hitler's chancellery in Berlin in May 1945. The cartoon in question depicted Hitler and was dated 14 January 1944. In his home country, people were aware of Illingworth's graphical power. Even though the Daily Mail dropped most comics and cartoons during World War II because of paper rationing, his cartoons remained.

The controversial Churchill cartoon of 3 February 1954.

The most controversial cartoon of his career was published in Punch on 3 February 1954, and depicted the ailing Prime Minister Winston Churchill sitting visibly tired behind his desk. Underneath the drawing a biblical quote from Psalm 114 can be read: "Man Goeth Forth unto his Work and to his Labour until the Evening." Since Churchill was so beloved with the English people for keeping spirits up during World War II, the cartoon outraged and shocked many. Punch lost many readers. Even Churchill himself commented: "Yes, there's malice in it. Look at my hands - I have beautiful hands... Punch goes everywhere. I shall have to retire if this sort of thing goes on." Luckily the idea for the cartoon came from Punch's chief editor Malcolm Muggeridge, who took most of the heat, since everyone knew that Illingworth was just an illustrator of his ideas.

Illingworth was also active in advertising, illustrating ads for Wolsey underwear, Grey's Cigarettes, Symington's Soups, Eiffel Tower Lemonade, Winsor & Newton and the "Beer is Best" campaign.

'Willie's Good Deed' (Punch, 1936).

In 1962 Illingworth was voted "Political and Social Cartoonist of the Year" by the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain. In 1974 he received a honorary D.Litt. from the University of Kent. Since 2009 a commemorative blue plaque can be seen on his former home in Barry.

Final years and death
Illingworth continued his long career all throughout the 1950s, way into the 1960s. In 1966 he was co-founder of the British Cartoonists' Association and served as its first President. He was directly responsible for launching the career of Wally Fawkes, who won a 1945 cartoon competition organized by the Daily Mail with Illingworth as the juror. When Illingworth retired from cartooning on 22 December 1969, Fawkes became his natural successor, both at the Daily Mail as well as Punch. Illingworth also served as a mentor to Ralph Steadman.

The retired cartoonist took up farming in Sussex. As a tribute, Fawkes included a character based on Illingworth in his comic strip 'Flook': Organ Morgan. Illingworth briefly returned to his former profession in 1973 when he stood in for Paul Rigby in The Sun and made weekly political cartoons for News of the World, a year later. He passed away in 1979 in Hastings, England, after suffering a stroke during a gallbladder operation. Cartoonist Michael Cummings once claimed that "Illingworth's work is even better than John Tenniel."

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