George Worsley Adamson

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For the wildlife conservationist, see George Adamson.
George Worsley Adamson
George Worsley Adamson at Pynes House, Upton Pyne, 1966
Born February 7, 1913
The Bronx, New York
Died March 5, 2005
Exeter, Devon, England
Occupation illustrator and cartoonist
Spouse(s) Mary Marguerita Renée Diamond (1917–1997)

George Worsley Adamson, RE, MCSD, (7 February 1913, The Bronx, New York–5 March 2005, Exeter, Devon) was a book illustrator, author and cartoonist who from 1931 held American and British dual citizenship.

George Adamson was educated at Wigan and Leigh College, Oxford University, and the Liverpool College of Art.[1] He exhibited at the Royal Academy, and contributed to Punch from 1939 to 1988.[1][2]

During World War II,[1][3] Adamson served with the RAF Coastal Command as a navigator in Catalina flying boats on the Western Approaches and trained on B-24 Liberators in the Bahamas. After he illustrated a feature on transatlantic flights for the Illustrated London News, he was appointed an official war artist for the Coastal Command. Some of Adamson's drawings are now in the Imperial War Museum and the RAF Museum.[4]

From the mid-1960s, he illustrated Norman Hunter's Professor Branestawm books, providing a suitably zany continuity with W. Heath Robinson's illustrations from the 1930s.[4] Also in the 1960s, Adamson painted the jackets for Alan Garner's first two novels for children: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) and The Moon of Gomrath (1963). In the same decade Adamson did the drawings for the first book of poems Ted Hughes wrote for children: Meet My Folks! (1961); this was followed by the drawings he did for Ted Hughes's first book of children's stories, How the Whale Became (1963), and by those his did for the first edition of The Iron Man (1968).

In 1970, Adamson illustrated the book based on Richard Carpenter's television series Catweazle; this was followed in 1971 by the drawings he did for the book based on the second series, Catweazle and the Magic Zodiac. In the 1980s, he illustrated five of the Richard Ingrams and John Wells Dear Bill books for Private Eye.[1]

Adamson was the winner of the P.G. Wodehouse Centenary Illustration Award in Punch in 1981 and was subsequently commissioned to illustrate an anthology of P.G. Wodehouse short stories for the Folio Society published in 1983.[5]

George Adamson was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers in 1987.

One of the last things that happened under Hollowood’s editorship was that Punch accepted a cover by George Adamson which showed Mr Punch sitting at an easel in the middle of a stretch of English countryside. Beside him was a book called How to Paint Like the Great Masters, and the landscape which Mr Punch was trying to paint was in fact modelled on the great masters… the Van Gogh trees on the right merged into a Samuel Palmer hillside, then into a Gainsborough or Constable field.

To make the landscape itself look like a collaboration between the masters was a brilliant idea. George did it brilliantly and we all thought it was a brilliant cover. One of the first actions by the new editor, William Davis, was to reject the cover. He didn’t understand it. Or, if he did understand it, he didn’t think it was funny. Or, if he thought it was funny, he didn’t think enough other people would find it was funny. No, let’s face it; he didn’t understand it.

Miles Kington, The Punch Cartoon Album: 150 Years of Classic Cartoons.[6]        

George Adamson's parents[4][7] were George William Adamson, a master car builder for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, and Mary Lydia (Lily, née Howard). His father, born in Glasgow, Scotland, and his mother, born in Wigan, Lancashire, had moved to New York City from Bombay, India in 1910.


  1. ^ a b c d Patrick Boylan (2 April 2005). "George Adamson: Prolific illustrator of children's books and irreverent magazines". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ Mark Bryant (16 March 2005). "Obituary: George Adamson". The Independent. Influenced by classical artists such as Velazquez, Rembrandt, Goya and Hokusai, Adamson worked on paper, gesso surfaces and scraperboard, and used pen and ink, wash, charcoal, chalk, gouache, oils and other media. His training as an etcher, engraver and graphic designer also had an effect on his illustration and cartoon work and, to assist the speed of production and more accurate printing, he made extensive use of transparent acetate film to separate line drawings from painted backgrounds. 
  3. ^ "Full record display, George Worsley Adamson: illustrator and humorist". Intute. 
  4. ^ a b c John Adamson (23 March 2005). "George Worsley Adamson: Artist, illustrator and author". The Scotsman. In the late 1970s Adamson had returned to etching, being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers in 1987. A print of St Andrew’s Cathedral is in the Fleming Collection of Scottish art: amid the gaunt ruins and the tourists, ghostly monks may be glimpsed processing solemnly towards the altar. From behind a tombstone a small child looks on — we too are invited to watch. 
  5. ^ George Adamson web site.
  6. ^ Miles Kington, Introduction, The Punch Cartoon Album: 150 Years of Classic Cartoons. Amanda-Jane Doran, ed. London: Grafton Books. December 1990 hardcover edition: ISBN 0-246-13645-6, ISBN 978-0-246-13645-9 (ASIN 0246136456). October 1991 paperback edition: ISBN 0-586-21483-6, ISBN 978-0-586-21483-1. ASIN 0586214836.
  7. ^ John Adamson Publishing Consultants. "The life story of George Adamson, 1913-2005, illustrator and humorist". 

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