Royden Ullyett, OBE (1914-2001) Over his long and prolific career, Roy Ullyett established himself as ‘the greatest sports cartoonist of his generation’ (in the words of Mark Bryant’s obituary in the Independent). Where possible, he drew quickly, on the spot, and in brush and ink.
Roy Ullyett was born in Leytonstone, Essex, on 16 March 1914, the son of the Secretary-Manager of Slazenger, the sports equipment manufacturer. His mother was the granddaughter of the landscape painter, John Glover. He grew up in Southend-on-Sea but, like his two brothers, was educated as a boarder at Earls Colne Grammar School. While there he made his first cartoons, of his teachers, publishing one at the age of 13 in the school magazine, The Colonian.
Three years later, he went to work in the art department of a commercial printing company.
Soon after selling a cartoon to the Southend Times in 1932, Ullyett became a freelance cartoonist, and began to contribute to other publications, including Wireless Weekly and, more significantly, The Era, for which he drew caricatures of actors and music hall performers. Then, in 1934, he joined the London evening newspaper, the Star, as sports cartoonist, beating Barry Appleby to the position, and drawing inspiration from the work of Tom Webster, who drew sports cartoons for the Daily Mirror.
During the Second World War, Ullyett switched from the Army to the RAF, and, serving as a pilot, grew what would become his trademark handlebar moustache. In 1945, he returned to the Star, while also drawing strips and a regular sports cartoon for the Sunday Pictorial, under the pseudonym, ‘Berryman’. The editor-in-chief of both the Sunday Pictorial and Daily Mirror, Hugh Cudlipp, offered him a position on the latter. However, he accepted a better offer from Arthur Christiansen, editor of the Daily Express, and worked for that paper from 1953 until his retirement in 1998. Christiansen dubbed him one of his ‘Four Musketeers’, the others being Michael Cummings, Carl Giles and Sir Osbert Lancaster. It is believed that by the time that he retired he had published approximately 25,000 cartoons. At the close of his career, he published While There’s Still Lead in my Pencil, an autobiography written with the help of Norman Giller.
A founder member of the British Cartoonists’ Association in 1966, Ullyett received an OBE for his charity work in 1989. He died in Southend on 20 October 2001.
His work is represented in the collections of the British Golf Museum (St Andrews).
Further reading: Mark Bryant, Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000, page 229