20th century

Herbert Bird Tourtel

11th September 2020
This November it will be 100 years since the first publication of a Rupert Bear story in the Daily Express newspaper. The intrepid little bear made his debut on November 8 2020; not a comic-strip, not a cartoon, but a ‘drawing’. Newsprint was short, and his creators were limited to one frame a day, either one large panel or a row of four small drawings. Occasionally the story was written in prose with a little marginal decoration. Rupert Bear was the invention of Mary Tourtel, a book illustrator, who worked on Rupert until he was handed over to Alfred Bestall in 1935. She was born Mary Caldwell in Canterbury, Kent, in 1874. Her father and brother were celebrated stained-glass artists and stonemasons who were associated with Canterbury Cathedral for many years, while another brother moved to South Africa, where he became a well-known painter of animals. Mary went to art school and became a professional illustrator, producing her first books in 1897. She died in 1948 and is buried with her husband in Canterbury. It is through her husband, Herbert Bird Tourtel, that Rupert Bear comes to be linked to Guernsey.

Victor Hugo and Guernsey: My school years at Elizabeth College, by Jean Hugo

10th May 2019
My school years at Elizabeth College, by Jean Hugo (1894-1984), from his autobiographical work, Le Regard de la mémoire, Paris: Actes Sud, 1983. Fond memories of Guernsey and characters such as 'Soapy Sam' and 'Peewee' are expressed in painterly language by the artist and great-grandson of Victor Hugo, who was a boarder at Elizabeth College. The illustration is of a drawing made by Jean's stepfather, René-Georges Hermann-Paul (1874-1940), of Jean, his mother Pauline, and the valet de chambre arriving for Jean's first term at Elizabeth College in 1907. This drawing was sold at Christie's, Paris, in 2012.

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