Bunty and the car

Bunty and the Car, Belfast Telegraph, 1925

Harold Outram Batho was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in the last quarter of 1888, the son of Arthur John Batho, a telegraph clerk in the civil service, and his wife Lilian, née Outram. His father died in Graaff-Reinet, South Africa, in 1891, where he was unsuccessfully seeking treatment for tuberculosis. The family returned to live in Sheffield by 1901.

By 1909 Harold was contributing cartoons to The Plebs, the journal of the Plebs' League, a socialist organisation for workers' education, and by 1911 he was an art student at Sheffield School of Art, living with his widowed mother, brother and uncle in Eccleshall. He served in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during the First World War, being appointed Second Lieutenant in 1916. He resigned his commission on the grounds of "ill-health contracted on active service" on 15 September 1917, and was granted the honorary rank of lieutenant.

He was working as a cartoonist for the Sheffield Sunday News in 1920. His sister Winifred, a suffragette who once disrupted a speech by Winston Churchill, a co-founder of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and a left-wing journalist, married (and later divorced) the cartoonist, socialist activist and editor of The Plebs, J. F. Horrabin. Batho assisted Horrabin on his strips The Adventures of the Noah Family (Daily News, 1919-) and Dot and Carrie (The Star, 1922-), apparently as a writer, presumably having followed the Horrabins to London. He drew for Pip and Squeak, the children's supplement to the Daily Mirror, in 1921-25, and drew the daily strip Bunty and the Car, which ran in the Belfast Telegraph from February to July 1925, although a general election joke suggests it probably first appeared in an unidentified English paper the previous year.

He died as a result of his wartime illness in Blycourt Manor, Staplehurst, Kent, on 2 January 1932, aged only 43, leaving his effects (£92 5s. 10d.) to Winifred Horrabin.


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