Leslie Caswell – additional piece

I’m always humbled when writing a little piece and sharing images, when I get responses!

Recently I have some correspondence with Peter Jones regarding Leslie Caswell and wanted to share what he said:

I have a fine pencil drawing by their father of the bust of Nefertiti in Berlin dated 1940. It belonged to my father who worked in the Admiralty during the war and the family story was that it was by someone he knew at that time. I found this blog today and it’s the first time I knew anything about Leslie Caswell. Thank you. Peter Jones

and then , after asking him if I could share the image, Peter said:

I have attached a photo of the drawing by Leslie Caswell of the ancient Egyptian sculpture of Nefertiti that is in Berlin. I don’t want to get the drawing out of its sealed glazed frame and it won’t fit on my scanner, so a photo with reflections will have to do for now. Sorry about that. I rather doubt Leslie Caswell could have been behind the scenes in Berlin in 1940 (or is there a story to be told?) so I wonder what prompted the drawing and what model he used. Best wishes Peter Jones

I searched and found Wikipedia has a nice article on this icon and I’ve pointed to the relevant section which tells us the bust was first displayed to the public in 1923 and then stored, during the war, in Berlin but in a secure location to avoid the British bombings. I’ve read The Berlin Diaries 1940-1945 of Marie Missie Vassiltchikov recently and they certainly make the reader feel the oppression of bombings. So the bust was first stored in the vault of the Prussian Governmental Bank (Die Preussische-staatsbank) which was dissolved by the Allies in 1947 (there’s some current speculation regarding the loss of the equity held in the bank at that time) and then moved in 1941 to a Flak Tower bunker – presumably in the Tiergarten. At the end of the war it was moved by the Americans from a salt mine at Merkers/ Kaiseroda to Wiesbaden. In 1956 it was returned to West Berlin.

Now the question is when did Caswell see the bust of Nefertiti? Did he visit Germany between 1923 and 1939 (the start of the War)? In 1937 he was in the Slade School of Art and in the summer of 1938 received his degree at the University of London. Is it feasible that, so close to the appeasement and then declaration of war, he was in Berlin? Then we know from his children he served initially in the Royal Artillery in Burma but “was slightly deafened by the 25 pounder guns under his command. He was reassigned as an official war artist in India recording the actions and personnel in the Burma campaign and also drew and painted many members of the British Forces, African regiments, Gurkhas, Indian scenes, beggars, villagers, Mahrajas and beautiful Tibetan women.” ~Hamilton Caswell

So I suspect it’s more likely Leslie Caswell saw it in a magazine or journal, as it was a ‘recent’ discovery – for the public at least – when he was studying at the Slade. A quick search of the Illustrated London News shows at least 27 articles mentioning the bust during 1930-1939 and the image below appeared in issue dated 6 May 1933 (and no, the image mentions the cover but that’s different from the version Caswell drew above!)

Thanks so much to Peter Jones for sharing this image.

Leslie Caswell again!

I love doing this blogging. Take a look at the comment section of this post on Leslie Caswell:

Louise Gibson wrote:

My father, who served in India during WW2, had his portrait painted by Leslie Caswell. Dad died last year aged 93. I love the painting. And I chancing my luck asked if she’d be willing to share the picture….and soon after, this arrived in my Inbox. Many thanks Louise, it certainly is a great piece!

Jack Blackburn 1944 by Leslie Caswell

Jack Blackburn 1944 by Leslie Caswell

I promised to upload it with some new discoveries in Home Notes, so without further ado…..

“Dear Stranger” by Jane Causeway was adapted over several weeks and these three illustrations come from Home Notes 19 July, 26 July and 2 August 1956, the latter being the end of the adaptation (I don’t have earlier issues to say when it began). Interestingly the only other work by Causeway I can find is a Woman’s Weekly Library magazine, “Search for a stranger” (# 940 in the series), published by Fleetway Library, London, England, 19 March 1973.  The story was published in 63 Pages. A bookseller helpfully lists this as a line: “Why was it that, whatever she did, wherever she went, her mind always turned back to Adrian?”. Adrian doesn’t appear in any of the three parts of the “Dear Stranger” story but maybe Causeway changed the names! This is one mystery I won’t be worrying about.

However the author’s achievements appear to be few on the Internet.  the British Library only lists the same book as Amazon-  Search for a stranger. London : Hale, 1971. But one strange thing is that RT Book magazine have a single listing which states: Jane Causeway a.k.a. Barry Cook. There is also evidence that Causeway wrote in Home Notes in 1957 but I can’t find anything else on either names.



Home Notes 1956 July 19 p11 - Leslie Caswell

Home Notes 19 July 1956 p11 – Leslie Caswell


Home Notes 1956 July 26 p11 - Leslie Caswell

Home Notes 26 July 1956  p11 – Leslie Caswell


Home Notes 2 August 1956 p11 - Leslie Caswell

Home Notes 2 August 1956 p11 – Leslie Caswell

Everybody’s: Leslie Caswell

Everybodys 1952 October 11 p27

Everybodys 1952 October 11 p27

These pieces comes from Everybody’s magazine which started life as Competitors’ Journal in 1913 and became Everybody’s Weekly in 1928 and was finally taken over by Amalgamated Press in 1950 and merged with John Bull in 1959.

“Dip in the pool” by Raold Dahl, which according to Wiki was first published in The New Yorker on 19 January 1952. Now what I find interesting here is the fact that this could easily be an early Mike Noble drawing. The ‘sheen’ on the characters, the tilt of the head.But it is signed by Caswell – Mike Noble worked with him as previously described

The story as described the Daily Telegraph:

Having bet his and his wife’s life-savings that the ocean-liner on which they’re cruising will make poor progress, the doomed hero of this grown-up short story befriends a kindly old woman on deck before hurling himself overboard before her eyes in an attempt to slow everything down. He never finds out, however, that she is not quite all there – moments later, after she has watched him flailing in the ship’s ever-lengthening wake, she tells her disbelieving carer about the curious incident. “Such a nice man,” she insists. “He waved to me.”

The next piece was uncredited in the magazine, but again I’m guessing Caswell based on the face and the strong figure work

Everybodys 1958 Dec 20 p14

ORBIT FLIGHT by Frank Harvey – illustrated by Caswell? Bill Lacey (thanks to David Slinn for ID) Everybodys 1958 Dec 20 p14

I’m not so sure about this one though, but please contradict me!

Everybodys 1958 Feb 01 p22

Artist unknown – Caswell? Bill Lacey (thanks to David Slinn for ID) Everybodys 1958 Feb 01 p22

The next illustration is in a story which credits Caswell in later issues. I stupidly didn’t keep any of the other illustrations or indeed the story title, but the piece stands alone beautifully

Everybodys 1958 Jan 04 p33 Caswell

Everybodys 1958 Jan 04 p33 Caswell

Home Notes: Leslie Caswell

I mentioned Leslie Caswell, whom Mike Noble (the comic artist) knew in the 50s in the last blog post.

Noble is quoted as saying “Caswell showed me how to design a picture within a frame” (Boyd, N. in Khoury, G. ed. 2004, p.152*).

The Net includes reference to his school background (Soham Grammar School). This is a really fascinating period piece and we learn that Caswell exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1940 and was in Burma during the war in the Royal Artillery.

Leslie Caswell at Soham

Leslie Caswell at Soham 1937 - 2nd from left on back row - (shamelessly borrowed from: http://www.sohamgrammar.org.uk/midsum_1937.htm)

My first scan from Home Notes shows a couple with the man almost looking comical! I’m not sure if my wife dressed like that I would be worrying about her ‘tidiness’.

Home Notes 27 July 1951 p6-7

Home Notes 27 July 1951 p6-7

Unfortunately I no longer have this issue to be able to tell you what ‘Linda’ did! But remember this is the early 50s. The affluent growing middle class after the Second World War is definitely the only model of family allowed at this time. Father is the sturdy solid black figure in the foreground towering in proportions over his wife and child. The lighting is interesting in this. The window is ‘in our faces’ but still is balanced by the dark suit

Home Notes 17 August 1951 p28-29

Home Notes 17 August 1951 p28-29

Again here we have the coy wife and her protector. A 1951 ideal.Notice however the strong figure work. He is looking to the right to her, and we follow his eyes to her and wonder then what she is thinking.

Home Notes 7 September 1951 p7

Home Notes 7 September 1951 p7

There is scant reference to Caswell on the Net, but interestingly:

Textbook of Operative Gynæcology

By Wilfred Shaw, M.A., M.D., F.R.C.S., Gynæcologist, St. Andrew’s Hospital, Dollis Hill, London, England. Cloth. $19. Pp. 444, with 382 illustrations. Williams & Wilkins Company, Mt. Royal and Guilford Aves., Baltimore 2; E. & S. Livingstone, Ltd., 16 and 17 Teviot Pl., Edinburgh, Scotland, 1954.

This is one of the foremost books on operative gynecology published in any language. It is a pity that Wilfred Shaw did not live to see this book completed. Even though he knew he had a fatal illness, he worked on the manuscript to the very end. Shaw acknowledged inspiration of illustrations from the textbooks of Peham-Amreich, Martius, TeLinde, and Greenhill. He borrowed some excellent original drawings, but the remainder of the illustrations were drawn by Leslie Caswell and are unsurpassed for accuracy and beauty.

Lastly for some of Caswell’s colour work take a look at “The spear thrower” from 1972, an unusual piece to be doing later in life!

So where did he continue illustrating when he moved to Cornwall and is he still alive? Get in touch if you know more
* Boyd, Norman, 2004. in G. Khoury, ed. True Brit: a celebration of the great comic book artists of the UK?, pp.150-155