Zoo Calendar by L. R. Brightwell

What inspired me to write this blog was the discovery of artwork I liked – that simple! I had some ephemera that I’d love to see preserved so any researchers who want it can at least see it here! As a result of my discovery and joy is seeing L. R. Brightwell‘s artwork in Boy’s Own Paper I had an email from Stewart Gravenor who had commented earlier:

Brightwell was a local artist (Brighton) that my parents knew (he lived in Peacehaven). We ended up with a few sketches, posters and postcards split up between the kids when my parents died. I have a couple A3-ish sketch publication proofs with his hand written comments regarding improvements for the final sketches. Good talking point with visitors!

Stewart kindly sent these photographs of two pieces he owns:

Brightwell artwork

The Arcadian calendar for April – original artwork

The Zoo's Profiteers

The Zoo’s Profiteers – original artwork

I’m not going to start obsessing about where these appeared because a quick search shows Brightwell was a prolific author and artist! If anyone knows, let me know.

Anyway this inspired me to share my copy of Zoo Calendar (which can be picked up cheaply for a 200 pages). It’s not dated except by Brightwell who says “Since first the London Zoo was founded, a hundred and six years ago…” Well, London Zoo was founded in 1826 therefore, assuming no reprints occurred for this undated book, it looks to have been published in 1932. As we are in the month of may. I’ve scanned just that month and might carry on through the book depending on time.


Cover of Zoo Calendar


Front page




Title page






























Boy’s Own Paper – Doings at the Zoo – Brightwell


Boys Own Paper Vol61 p16

Leonard Robert Brightwell was an outstanding British etcher and illustrator of animal subjects, studying at the Lambeth School of Art, London. Countless visits to the Zoological Gardens, however, provided his most important artistic education. Brightwell became a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London in 1906 and a member of the Marine Biological Association in 1922. During the first half of the twentieth century he was commissioned by these associations and other museums to make scientific drawings of various forms of life, including extinct animals. Brightwell’s first illustrated book (A British Dog in France) was published in 1913. During the First World War (1914-1918) he served in the British Army. After 1920 Brightwell established himself as a major illustrator and as an author. Books written and illustrated by him include, A Cartoonist among Animals (1921), On the Seashore (1934), The Zoo You Knew (1936), Neptune’s Garden (1937), The Dawn of Life (1938), The Garden Naturalist (1941), The Zoo Story (1952) and Down to the Sea (1954). From approximately 1920 to 1932 L. R. Brightwell created a number of finely rendered etchings and engravings of animal life. All were published in London by James Connell & Sons in signed editions ranging from fifty to one hundred and fifty impressions. Taken  from: Art of the print

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p70

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p70 - Brightwell

In the Boy’s Own Paper, we see a lovely cartoon series by Brightwell, called “Monthly doings at the zoo”. I present them in order as they appeared in the BOP Annual volume 61. I can’t tell you which monthly versions they appeared in but I could hazard a guess, from the order they are printed in the Annual (and their labels)

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p130

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p130

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p210

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p210 - January

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p262 - February

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p262 - February

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p310 - Brightwell

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p310 - March

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p375 - Brightwell

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p375 - April

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p431 - Brightwell

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p431 - May

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p479 - Brightwell

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p479 - June

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p527 - Brightwell

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p527 - July

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p575 - Brightwell

Boys Own Paper Vol61 p575 - August


Boys Own Paper Vol61 p623 September

For a bit more about Brightwell, see Steve Holland’s article on the Look and Learn site and his follow listing of Brightwell’s books on Bear Alley. One can still buy books by Brightwell including Zoo Calendar which may well be these illustrations and others.