Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Frederick Barnard and John Gordon Thomson of FUN

[1] February 7, 1877.
FUN began on September 21, 1861, in London and lasted until 1900, second in longevity only to Punch. The periodical was said by David Anderson to have been begun by ‘a speculative shopkeeper named M’Lean, who sold looking-glasses in Fleet Street.’ Mark Bryant, writing in History Today, says the founding editor was London playwright and actor Henry J. Byron. Thus, Thomas McLean or one of his sons was probably once the proprietor or printer. 

McLean was a Haymarket print publisher who began publishing in 1821. By 1830 he was publishing comic broadsheets consisting of cartoon vignettes by William Heath, Robert Seymour, and Charles Jameson Grant under the title McLean’s Looking Glass. Richard Scully, who provided much of the background information for this post from his own research, writes: ‘According to my records, the paper was printed by Charles Whyte (1861), MacLean (1861-65), Edward Wylam (1865-69), the Dalziel Brothers (1870-93), and M. Elton & Co. (1893-1900).

[2] August 13, 1870. Fun cartoonist Frederick Barnard was replaced by John Gordon Thomson on September 10, 1870.
Anderson went on to name the first editors of Fun as ‘a Mr. Urquhart, with the assistance of a son of the proprietor.’ Tom Hood Jr. was the second editor followed by Henry S. Samson, proprietor and editor of the Referee. Richard Scully again: ‘The editorial succession was as follows: Henry J. Byron (1861 to 13 May 1865), Tom Hood, Jr. (20 May 1865 to Nov. 1874), Henry S. Sampson (5 Dec 1874 to 1878), Edward Dalziel (1878-93).’

Among the distinguished writers during Tom Hood’s time were George Augustus Sala, Ambrose Bierce, W.S. Gilbert, Francis Burnand, Tom Archer, William Brough, Tom Robertson and Clement Scott. This group of writers were known as ‘the Gang’ and met in a tap-room at Ludgate Station. Matt Morgan, Boyd Houghton, William Brunton, Paul Grey, J.F. Sullivan, Frederick Barnard, John Gordon Thomson and Wallis MacKay were some of the artists. 

“July 1868.- Amateur Morning Performance at the Haymarket, for the benefit of the widowed mother of Paul Gray, the artist, when a new burlesque written by the contributors to “Fun”, was produced, entitled Robinson Crusoe; or, the Injun Bride and the Injured Wife.” -Era Almanack, 1868.

[3] September 10, 1870. First Fun cartoon by John Gordon Thomson.
Frederick Fred Barnard was born in London on May 16, 1846. Barnard was one of the few Victorian cartoonists to have his cartoons published in all the major London comic periodicals including Punch, Fun, and Judy (under Charles Henry Ross). In the 1880s he contributed to Ally Sloper’s Half-Holiday. During the 70s Barnard illustrated the works of Dickens for Chapman and Hall and painted portraits for the Royal family. In 1883 Chatto & Windus published Behind a Brass Knocker by Frederick Barnard and Charles H. Ross, engraved by the Dalziel brothers. Barnard died on September 28, 1896.

[4] January 8, 1870. Fun cartoon by Frederick Barnard.
Barnard’s succesor on Fun was John Gordon Thomson, who drew big cuts’ (as Punch termed the central cartoons) for Fun from 1870 to 1893 when he was succeeded by Wallis Mackay. Thomson was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, on September 2, 1841, and had moved to London by the time he was 20 to work as a civil servant. Thomson contributed to Punch in 1861, The Graphic in 1870, and moved to Fun the same year.  He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1878, illustrated books and magazines for Samuel Beeton and others. It’s presumed Thomson died sometime in 1911. 

[5] August 24, 1872.
[6] September 19, 1874.
[7] December 17, 1879.
[8] June 29, 1881.
[9] February 21, 1883.
[10] September 8, 1886.
[11] October 26, 1887.

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