Norman Thelwell

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Norman Thelwell
Born (1923-05-23)23 May 1923
Birkenhead, England
Died 7 February 2004(2004-02-07) (aged 80)
Nationality English
Other names Thelwell
Occupation Cartoonist

Norman Thelwell (3 May 1923 – 7 February 2004) was an English cartoonist well known for his humorous illustrations of ponies and horses.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Birkenhead, Thelwell spent World War II in the East Yorkshire Regiment,[1] having signed up at the age of 18 in 1941,[2] and was art editor of an army magazine in New Delhi, India.[1]

His first published cartoon, in the London Opinion, was an Indian subject.[2]

In 1944, he took evening classes in art at Nottingham Art School.[2] A fellow art student, Rhona, became his wife in 1949.[2] They had one son and one daughter.[1][2]

After Nottingham, he took a degree at Liverpool College of Art,[2] then in 1950, he took up a post teaching design and illustration at Wolverhampton College of Art,[1] but gave this up to work freelance in 1956.[1][2]

He became a contributor to the satirical magazine Punch, who first published his work in 1952,[2] beginning a 25-year relationship that resulted in more than 1,500 cartoons, of which 60 were used as front covers.[2] He also worked as political cartoonist for the News Chronicle from 1956 until the paper closed in 1960.[3]

His first collection of cartoons, Angels on Horseback, was published in 1957.[2]

Known to many only as Thelwell, he found his true comic niche with Pony Club girls and their comic ponies, a subject for which he became best-known, and which led to a cartoon strip about such a pair, Penelope and Kipper. He also illustrated Chicko in the British boys' comic Eagle.

For the last quarter of a century of his life he lived in the Test Valley at Timsbury, near Romsey, gradually restoring a farm house and landscaping the grounds which gave rise in 1978 to his first factual book, A Plank Bridge by a Pool,[4] which detailed the first two lakes he dug there. A third lake was later featured on the BBC’s South Today programme. Written much earlier, but published three years later, A Millstone Round My Neck described his experiences in re-building a Cornish water mill (Addicroft Mill at Liskeard, which he called Penruin), that was sold before the book was published. He always loved old buildings, and in his autobiography, Wrestling with a Pencil, wrote about his joy in the beauty of old cottages.

Published books[edit]

  • Angels on Horseback (1957)
  • Thelwell Country (1959)
  • A Place of Your Own – A Guide for House-Hunters (Methuen, 1960)
  • Thelwell in Orbit (1961)
  • A Leg at Each Corner (1962)
  • Top Dog (1964) [Dogs]
  • Thelwell's Riding Academy (1965)
  • Drawing Ponies (1966)
  • Up the Garden Path (1967) [Gardening]
  • Thelwell's Compleat Tangler (1967) [Fishing]
  • Thelwell's Book of Leisure (1968)
  • This Desirable Plot (1970) [Real Estate]
  • The Effluent Society (1971)
  • Penelope (1972)
  • Three Sheets in the Wind (1973) [Sailing]
  • Belt Up (1974)
  • Thelwell Goes West (1975)
  • Brat Race (1977)
  • Riding Frieze (1977)
  • A Plank Bridge by a Pool (1978)
  • Thelwell's Gymkhana (1979)
  • Horse Sense (1980) - previously published Riding Frieze(1977)
  • A Millstone Round My Neck (1981)
  • Pony Calvalcade (1981) (3 in 1: Angels on Horseback, A Leg at Each Corner, Riding Academy)
  • Some Damn Fool's Signed the Rubens Again (1982)
  • Sporting Prints (1982)
  • How to Draw Ponies (1982) - based on Drawing Ponies(1966)
  • Magnificat (1983) [Cats]
  • Wrestling with a Pencil: The Life of a Freelance Artist (1986)
  • Play It As It Lies (1987) [Golfing]
  • Pony Panorama (1988) (3 in 1: Gymkhana, Goes West, Penelope)
  • Penelope Rides Again (1989)
  • The Cat's Pyjamas (1992)
Other Published works/or works involved with:
  • The Penguin Thelwell (1963)
  • The Delinquent Equine RS Summerhayes and Thelwell (Moss Bros) (undated)
  • Thelwell ISBN 1-871136-07-5 (1989)
  • Ploughmans Punch (1995)
  • The Definitive Thelwell ISBN 978-1-905738-14-4 (2009)
  • Thelwell Country: 70 years of Norman Thelwell ISBN 0-901723-33-9 (2003-4)

Forwards written by/contains some illustrations:

  • Punch Afloat (1974) - contains 2 sections written by Thelwell, p36 and 80. as well as additional illustrations.
  • Travelling with a sketchbook by Ray Evans, Forward by Norman Thelwell (1980)


  1. ^ a b c d e Thelwell (1960). A Place of Your Own. Methuen. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Thelwell's". Estate of Norman Thelwell. Archived from the original on 4 December 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Norman Thelwell Biography, The British Cartoon Archive.
  4. ^ "Norman Thelwell" (obituary), The Telegraph, 9 February 2004.

External links[edit]