Tom Browne (illustrator)

Last updated

Portrait of Tom Browne, c. 1900 Tom Browne03a.jpg
Portrait of Tom Browne, c. 1900

Tom Browne RI , born Thomas Arthur Browne (8 December 1870 – 16 May 1910), was an extremely popular English strip cartoonist, painter and illustrator of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. [1] [2] [3]

Born in Nottingham, Browne started earning a wage as a milliner's errand boy in 1882. From there he was apprenticed to a lithographic printer and eked out a living with freelance cartoons for London comic papers. He received 30 shillings for his first strip, published by the magazine Scraps, and called "He Knew How To Do It". [4] At the time of the census of 1891, Browne was twenty and was living in lodgings in central Nottingham. He was described as a lithographic designer, and living at the same address were John Clarkson, a lithographic artist, and Lucy Pares, a lace maker, who was a visitor. Early in 1892, Browne married Pares in Nottingham. [5]

In 1890, Alfred Harmsworth had founded a new British comic book called Comic Cuts . Cheaply printed, it proved to be the ideal medium for Browne's bold drawing style. His comic strips soon became so popular that he moved to London and into a studio in Wollaton House at Westcombe Park. There, he turned out six full-page strips a week, but also produced illustrations for several British magazines. His cartoons appeared in Punch , The Tatler and other highly-rated periodicals of the day. In 1898 Browne became a member of the Royal British Society of Artists and in 1901 was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, which meant he could use the letters RI after his name. [3]

Browne was a founding member of the London Sketch Club, formed in 1898, and was publicly acclaimed. The stimulating experience of these regular get-togethers, alongside other founding members including Dudley Hardy and Phil May, was seminal in its influence on British commercial art. [6] His cycling trips took him all over the world, while illustrations of these exploits appeared in the newspapers. Returning to Nottingham, he started a colour printing firm and joined the Territorial Army.

The logo of Johnnie Walker whiskey, the strutting, monocled character, was created by Browne in 1908. [7] He also created the comic strip Weary Willie and Tired Tim, inspired by Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, which appeared on the front page of Illustrated Chips from 1896 to 1953. [8] Browne played a major part in the evolution of the British comic style, influencing Bruce Bairnsfather, Dudley Watkins and Leo Baxendale. [9] His strip 'Airy Alf and Bouncing Billy' first appeared in The Big Budget around 1900, and was later continued by Ralph Hodgson aka "Yorick". His comic, Dan Leno, portrayed the Victorian English music hall comedian and appeared in Dan Leno's Comic Journal in 1898. More of his characters were 'Little Willy and Tiny Tim', 'Mr. Stankey Deadstone and Company', 'The Rajah' and 'Don Quixote de Tintogs'. Echoes of his impudent urchins can still be seen in The Beano and The Dandy today. [2]

In an article published in 1903, Browne said “I do alleged humorous drawings… I have done some thousands of them, probably, yet normally I am a sober, almost melancholy, individual, and I started out in life with the ambition to paint big devotional pictures.” [10]

Browne pictured in 1903 Picture of Tom Browne.jpg
Browne pictured in 1903

After surgery for cancer, Browne died at home, Wollaton, Hardy Road, Westcombe Park, then in Kent, on 16 May 1910. He left a widow, Lucy Browne, and an estate valued at £18,529, [11] equivalent to £2,012,285in 2021. He was buried with military honours at Shooter's Hill. A year later, his widow was at the same address with their three children, Dorothy, aged 17, Elsie, aged 15, and a son, Noel, 11. [12]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dik Browne</span> American cartoonist (1917–1989)

Richard Arthur Allan Browne was an American cartoonist, best known for writing and drawing Hägar the Horrible and Hi and Lois.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">A. B. Frost</span> American illustrator, graphic artist, painter and comics writer

Arthur Burdett Frost, usually cited as A. B. Frost, was an American illustrator, graphic artist, painter and comics writer. He is best known for his illustrations of Brer Rabbit and other characters in the Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus books.

Notable events of 2005 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

Notable events of 2006 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

Lew Stringer is a freelance comic artist and scriptwriter.

<i>Our Boarding House</i> 1921–1984 American comic strip

Our Boarding House is an American single-panel cartoon and comic strip created by Gene Ahern on October 3, 1921 and syndicated by Newspaper Enterprise Association. Set in a boarding house run by the sensible Mrs. Hoople, it drew humor from the interactions of her grandiose, tall-tale-telling husband, the self-styled Major Hoople, with the rooming-house denizens and his various friends and cronies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paddy Brennan</span> Comic artist

Paddy Brennan is an Irish comics artist who worked mainly in the UK, drawing adventure strips for D. C. Thomson & Co. titles. He was a freelancer, working six months of the year in Dublin and six months in London.

Notable events of 1989 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

This is a timeline of significant events in comics in the 1920s.

This is a timeline of significant events in comics in the 1910s.

This is a timeline of significant events in comics prior to the 20th century.

Nigel Parkinson is a British cartoonist who works for D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd and mainly draws for The Beano and The Dandy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paul Robinson (cartoonist)</span> American cartoonist, 1898-1974

Paul Dowling Robinson was a comic strip artist best known for his long-run Etta Kett comic strip.

James A. Pabian was an American animator, screenwriter and director. In the 1930s, he worked as an animator for Ub Iwerks, Leon Schlesinger Productions and Harman & Ising. Pabian then worked for the MGM cartoon department in the 1940s, and later branched out as a comic artist for Dell Comics in the 1940s and 1950s, and created the syndicated daily comic strips Hollywood Johnnie, Screen Girl, and Go Go Gruver. He also worked on various Disney comics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clare Victor Dwiggins</span> American cartoonist

Clare Victor Dwiggins was an American cartoonist who signed his work Dwig. Dwiggins created a number of comic strips and single-panel cartoons for various American newspapers and newspaper syndicates from 1897 until 1945, including his best-known strip, the long-running School Days.

<i>Illustrated Chips</i>

Illustrated Chips was a British comic magazine published between 26 July 1890 and 12 September 1953. Its publisher was the Amalgamated Press, run by Alfred Harmsworth. Priced at a half-penny, Illustrated Chips was among a number of Harmsworth publications that challenged the dominance in popularity of the "penny dreadfuls" among British children.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Text comics</span> Oldest form of comics, where the stories are told in captions below the images

Text comics or a text comic is a form of comics where the stories are told in captions below the images and without the use of speech balloons. It is the oldest form of comics and was especially dominant in European comics from the 19th century until the 1950s, after which it gradually lost popularity in favor of comics with speech balloons.

Celebrity comics are comics based on the fame and popularity of a celebrity. They are a byproduct of merchandising around a certain media star or franchise and have existed since the mass media and comics came into existence in the 19th century. Celebrity comics are usually not held in high esteem by critics, because of their purely commercial nature. They are solely created to capitalize on media trends and therefore published so quickly and cheaply that drawings and narratives tend to be of very low quality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pop Momand</span> American cartoonist

Arthur Ragland "Pop" Momand was an American cartoonist best known for his comic strip Keeping Up with the Joneses.

Charlie Chaplin comics have been published in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Charlie Chaplin comic strips first appeared in 1915 in the U.S. and the U.K., cashing in on the tremendous popularity of the comedian at the time; they were some of the earliest comics inspired by the popularity of a celebrity. Although Charlie Chaplin comic strips didn't enjoy enduring popularity in the U.S., a Chaplin comic strip was published in the U.K. from 1915 until the late 1940s, while in France there were Chaplin comics published for more than 50 years.


  1. "Tom Browne - Lambiek Comiclopedia". Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  2. 1 2 Tom_Browne_and_his_Circle
  3. 1 2 "BROWNE, Tom". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 232.
  4. "TOM BROWNE" . Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  5. 1891 United Kingdom census, 1 Kendall Street, Nottingham; “Thomas Arthur Browne” in England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915,, accessed 9 May 2022 (subscription required)
  6. The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, Volume 3. Chelsea House Publishers. 1983. p. 281.
  7. "Dr.Whisky: February 2007" . Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  8. "Weary Willie and Tired Tim". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  9. Khoury, George (2004). True Brit: A Celebration of the Great Comic Book Artists of the UK. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 9.
  10. Tom Browne, “Humorous experiences of an English comic artist”, I. The Booklovers Magazine , August 1903, p. 198
  11. “BROWNE Tom otherwise Thomas Arthur of Wollaton Hardy Road Westcombe Park Kent died 16 May 1910” in Wills and Administrations (England and Wales, 1910 (1911), p. 257
  12. 1911 United Kingdom census, Wollaton, Hardy Road, Blackheath, London SE,, accessed 9 May 2022 (subscription required)