Frederick Henry Townsend, also known by his initials F.H. Townsend, was a British cartoonist and illustrator. He is best remembered for his work in Punch and as an original illustrator of Oscar Wilde's novels, among other classic 19th-century authors. His most famous cartoon is 'No Thoroughfare', aka 'Bravo Belgium' (1914).

Early life
Frederick Henry Townsend was born in London on 26 February 1868 and studied at the South London Technical Art School in Kennington Park Road. Some of his co-students, Leonard Raven-Hill, Charles Ricketts, Reginald Savage, Charles Shannon and Arthur Rackham, would later become famous illustrators in their own right. Among his own graphic influences was Edwin Austin Abbey. In 1887 Townsend contributed to a short-lived magazine: Sunlight.

Illustration work
As an illustrator, Townsend is best remembered for illustrating the original editions of Oscar Wilde's 'The Canterville Ghost' and 'The Crime of Lord Arthur Savile', prepublished in 1887 in The Court and Society Review. He furthermore livened up the pages of various novels by Baron de Bazancourt ('Secrets de l'Épée', 1900), Charlotte Brontë (the second edition of 'Jane Eyre', from 1897), Gerald Campbell, Charles Dickens ('A Tale of Two Cities', 1897 edition, 'A Child's History of England', 1905 edition), Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Sign of the Four' (1903), Nathaniel Hawthorne ('The House of the Seven Gables'), Sara Jeannette Duncan ('A Social Departure', 1890), Rudyard Kipling ('They', 1906), L.T. Meade ('Jill, a Flower Girl', 1892), Thomas Love Peacock ('Gryll Grange', 1896), Walter Scott ('Rob Roy'), Matthew Sturgis' 'Oscar a Life', H.G. Wells' 'Select Conversations with an Uncle, now Extinct' and Israel Zangwill ('The Old Maids' Club', 1892).


Illustrations from 'The Canterville Ghost'. 

Punch
From 1889 on, for about a decade, Frederick Townsend worked for the Illustrated London News. In 1896 he joined the popular and influential British cartoon magazine Punch. In 1905 he became art editor, the first person in that function. As a cartoonist he was responsible for the 'Parliamentary Sketches' column, a series of cartoons which ridiculed politicians in the London Parliament. Townsend's most famous cartoon for Punch is 'No Thoroughfare', better known under its caption 'Bravo, Belgium' (12 August 1914). The cartoon shows an old man with sausages and a big stick (Germany) threatening a little boy (Belgium) defending a fence. It alludes to the German invasion of Belgium during the then ongoing First World War. Much to the Germans' surprise and the English' admiration the Belgian army managed to back off the German soldiers far longer than they'd anticipated. They even kept part of their country behind the IJzer river free from occupation during the entire war. In 1933 another Punch cartoonist, George Morrow, paid tribute to this cartoon by making Austria the little boy and Hitler the man with the huge stick. 

On 23 December 1914 Townsend made a four-panel text comic for Punch promoting the draft. The comic strip takes place in a train or a streetcar. We see an majestic woman accidentally stepping on a young man's foot. He screams in pain, yet afterwards politely denies that he felt anything . At first the woman seems to think nothing of it, but after a moment's pause she asks him rather aggressively why he isn't at the front, if he can stand pain like that?

Final years and death
Townsend furthermore contributed to magazines and papers like The Daily Graphic, the Idler, News Chronicle, the Pall Mall Gazette, the Strand Magazine and the Tatler. He was one of the earliest members of the Chelsea Arts Club and the Arts Club and in 1915 entered the Royal Society. In 1920 the gifted cartoonist died while playing a game of golf. His brother-in-law, Frank Reynolds, replaced him as Punch's art editor.

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