Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Harry Furniss (1854-1925)

Harry Furniss, author, journalist and caricaturist, joined the staff of Punch in 1880. On August 26 1893 he had a ruckus with J. G. Swift McNeill, an M.P. who was enraged at the caricaturist’s representation of his protruding front teeth as “startling deformities.” McNeill spent the day threatening to punch Furniss the moment they met. That evening the two did meet in a lobby at their mutual club and McNeil shoved his fist under the cartoonist’s nose.

“Your conduct has been blackguardly,” he shouted, “if you were not such a little man I would kick you. As it is I will merely pull your ear.” McNeil did grab his ear and twist it and shake it. Furniss managed to wrestle free as a crowd gathered and went off immediately to complain to the sergeant-at-arms.

He was born at Wexford, Ireland, on March 26, 1854, settled in London and contributed to Punch, The Illustrated London News, The Graphic, Black and White, The Magazine of Art, and The Strand. Furniss illustrated books as well including the works of Dickens and Thackeray. Harry Furniss, well-known black and white artist of Punch, died at his Hastings residence at mid-day January 14, 1925, leaving three sons, a daughter and a widow.

*Two original Harry Furniss art cards courtesy Don Kurtz.

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