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Norman Thelwell (1923-2004)

Norman Thelwell (1923-2004)

Norman Thelwell is arguably the most popular cartoonist to have worked in Britain since the Second World War. Though almost synonymous with his immortal subject of little girls and their fat ponies, his work is far more wide ranging, perceptive – and indeed prescient – than that association suggests.

Norman Thelwell was born in Tranmere, Birkenhead, Cheshire on 3 May 1923, the younger son of a maintenance engineer at Lever Brothers, Port Sunlight. He was educated locally at Well Lane Primary School and Rock Ferry High School, where he began to show a talent for drawing.

In 1939, Thelwell joined a Liverpool dock office as a junior clerk and, on the outbreak of war, spent nights fire watching. Three years later, he joined the second battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment, and was soon transferred to the intelligence section because of his ability to draw. During training as a wireless operator in 1944, he took some evening classes at Nottingham School of Art.

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