Sidney Strube (1892-1956) Having been encouraged to take up cartooning by the artist, John Hassall, Sidney Strube would become one of the most immensely popular cartoonists of the inter-war period as political cartoonist for the Daily Express for over 35 years.
The son of Conrad Frederick Strube, a German-born wine merchant, Sidney Strube was born in Bishopsgate, London, on 30 December 1892. Growing up at the Coach and Horses, a public house on Charing Cross Road owned by his father, he studied at St Martin’s School of Art, before undertaking an apprenticeship as a junior draughtsman for a furnishing company. He also worked for a short time producing advertisements for the technical press of the electrical industry. In 1910, he attended John Hassall School of Art, where he was encouraged by Hassall to develop as a cartoonist. After having four caricatures published in the Conservative and Unionist (later retitled Our Flag), Strube set up in Fleet Street as a freelance cartoonist, with further work published in the Bystander, Evening Times and a weekly cartoon for Throne and Country.
A breakthrough in Strube’s career came when an anti-socialist cartoon rejected by Throne and Country was printed in the Daily Express on 14 September 1912. Rapidly signing an exclusive freelance contract with the paper, Strube’s cartoons became so popular that the Daily Express published an album of his cartoons in December 1913.
Following the outbreak of the First World War, Strube joined the army, becoming a corporal in the Artists’ Rifles. Initially a Physical Training Instructor, he also served in France, occasionally sending cartoons back to England from the trenches, including one drawn in liquid mud. Following the end of the war, he returned to the Daily Express as staff political cartoonist. During his time at the Daily Express, Strube created his popular character the ‘Little Man’, a national symbol of the everyday man-in-the-street with, as he described, ‘everyday grumbles and problems, trying to keep his ear to the ground, his nose to the grindstone, his eye to the future and his chin up – all at the same time’.
By 1931, with his popularity high, Strube was offered £10,000 a year to join the Daily Herald, an offer that was immediately matched by Lord Beaverbrook in order to keep him at the Express. In 1934, a figure of Strube even appeared in Madame Tussauds, alongside fellow cartoonists David Low and Percy ‘Poy’ Fearon. Producing wartime posters and advertisements for companies such as Guinness during the Second World War, Strube was sacked by the Daily Express in 1948 following a clash with the editor, Arthur Christiansen, before continuing to work freelance for TheSunday Times, Time & Tide, Everybody’s and Tatler.
A member of both the London Sketch Club and the Savage Club, Strube was made a Freeman of the City of London. He continued to produce advertising work for Guinness as late as April 1955. He died of heart failure at his home in Golders Green, London on 4 March 1956.