Thursday, February 4, 2010

William Giles Baxter (1856-1888)

William Giles Baxter was born in 1856 in the South of Ireland of English parents. His father failed at establishing a factory for making of starch from potatoes and the family moved to America. They soon returned to England where his father died. Baxter was apprenticed to a Manchester architect but left after his indenture period was over. At twenty-one he published a series of lithographed pictures called “Buxton Sketches.”

In 1877, in Manchester, he was hired by publisher J. A. Christie to illustrate and edit a local comic weekly entitled Comus (afterwards altered to Momus) which featured a number of portraits of life-sized heads called “Studies from Dickens.” Momus lasted until 1882 and Baxter moved to London where he produced political and humorous Christmas cards for the market with a partner Alfred Gray. His cartoons began appearing in Judy; or, the London Serio-comic Journal in 1883 and he was tapped to produce Ally Sloper cartoons for Ally Sloper’s Half-Holiday in July 1884, cartoons which won him a large following.

Baxter seceded from Half-Holiday and in conjunction with Sloper creator Charles Henry Ross started a short-lived comic journal called Choodle, and was joint publisher and cartoonist on Charles Ross’s Variety Paper in 1887. He died 22 June 1888 of consumption and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery. He was 32 years old.

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