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William Giles Baxter (1856-1888)

William Giles Baxter (1856-1888)

‘The most genuine caricaturist who has ever lived in England’ (Joseph Pennell,
Modern Illustration, London: George Bell & Sons, 1895, page 103)

The master of a confident and beautiful line, William Giles Baxter is considered a seminal figure in the history of cartooning. Though he did not create the figure of ‘Ally Sloper’, he developed him into his definitive form and so established him as ‘Europe’s first really enduring … cartoon character’ (David Kunzle, The History of the Comic Strip. The Nineteenth Century, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990, page 316).

William Giles Baxter was born of English parents in Ireland, where his father failed to establish a factory for making starch from potatoes. During childhood, he travelled with them to America and then back to Britain, to settle in Buxton, Derbyshire. There his father died leaving his mother in poverty.

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