George Burchett

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George Burchett
George Burchett-Davis

23 August 1872
Died3 April 1953 (age 80)
Other namesKing of Tattooists
OccupationTattoo artist
Spouse(s)Edith Smith Walters

George 'Professor' Burchett (also styled the 'King of Tattooists') was born George Burchett-Davis on 23 August 1872 in the English seaside town of Brighton, East Sussex and became one of the most famous tattoo artists in the world.

Biographical and career information[edit]

Having been expelled from school at 12 for tattooing his classmates, he joined the Royal Navy at 13, developing his skills while travelling overseas as a deckhand on HMS Vincent. After absconding from the Navy, he returned to England.

With a studio on Mile End Road, and 72 Waterloo Road, London, Burchett became the first star tattooist and a Favorite among the wealthy upper class and European royalty. Among his customers were King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and King Frederick IX of Denmark. Though it was reputed that he tattooed the 'Sailor King' George V of the United Kingdom, there is no reliable evidence to attest to this actually being the case. He also tattooed Horace Ridler ('The Great Omi').

He constantly designed new tattoos from his worldwide travel, incorporating African, Japanese and Southeast Asian motifs into his work. In the 1930s, he developed cosmetic tattooing with such techniques as permanently darkening eyebrows.

He continued tattooing until he died suddenly on Good Friday in 1953 at the age of 80. His apparent autobiography, Memoirs of a Tattooist, edited by Peter Leighton (a pseudonym of writer Edward Spiro / EH Cookridge), was published in 1958 by Oldbourne Book Company and includes photographs illustrating some of his tattoo designs, though recent research has revealed that the book is not actually a compilation of Burchett's own notes, but a confection cribbed quickly from newspaper articles shortly after George's death.[1]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Michelle D. Miranda: Forensic Analysis of Tattoos and Tattoo Inks. CRC Press 2015, ISBN 1-498-7364-32.
  • Kathlyn Gay, Christine Whittington: Body Marks: Tattooing, Piercing, and Scarification. Twenty-First Century Books 2002, ISBN 0-761-3235-2X.
  • Margo DeMello: Encyclopedia of Body Adornment. ABC-CLIO 2007, ISBN 0-313-3369-54, p. 105.
  • Jon Reiter: King of Tattooists: The Life and Work of George Burchett. Solid State Publishing Company 2012, ISBN 0-578-1092-47.


  1. ^ Lodder, Matt. "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Burchett, George (1872–1953)". Oxford University Press. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  • George Burchett The BME Encyclopedia feature
  • Reiter, Jon, "The King of Tattooists". Solid State Press, 2012