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Birdsall, Timothy (1936 - 1963)

Timothy Birdsall orignal cartoon artwork.

Timothy Birdsall attended Cambridge University, where he was a contemporary and friend of Bamber Gascoigne and Michael Frayn. A talented artist, who illustrated Granta while at Cambridge, Birdsall's early professional cartoon work included a regular strip for Variety in 1957 and 1958. In 1960 he joined the Sunday Times, drawing the front-page pocket cartoon "Little Cartoon by Timothy" until 1962. From 1962 until his death Birdsall drew political cartoons and caricatures for the Spectator and cartoons for Private Eye. However, his biggest audience came in 1963, as resident cartoonist drawing live on Ned Sherrin and David Frost's satirical BBC TV show That Was the Week That Was. A highly inventive cartoonist, and a fine draughtsman with a love of detail, Birdsall was influenced by Emett, Searle and ffolkes. He was working on a book, This Book is Good for You, when he died of leukaemia on 10 June 1963. In his eulogy, Bernard Levin compared Birdsall's draughtsmanship to that of Daumier and Hogarth, but even Basil Hone, who admired the energy of Birdsall's cartoons, dismissed this as "an idiotic claim". A tribute volume was published, entitled "Timothy", reproducing many of his cartoons. At the time of Birdsall's death Lord Beaverbrook - one of his victims - had issued a writ against him.