Peter Varnon

Described by Advertiser’s Weekly as ‘youthful’, ‘bespectacled’, with a ‘scholarly stoop’, Varnon had joined the Merchants Navy Comforts Service (MNCS) in late 1942. Varnon moved from his own business, Peter Varnon and Associated Artists in Norfolk Street, where he had done work for the MOI until he felt compelled to take a permanent job with the MNCS. Working under T. Kirkland Bridge, Varnon’s posters aimed to avoid the ‘charity appeal’. Varnon produced the majority of the Merchant Navy Comforts Service (MNCS) posters.

Information collated from: Anonymous, ‘Why M.N. Comforts Service Posters Have Proved a Success’, Advertiser’s Weekly, Vol. 122, No. 1,586, October 14 1943, p.35; Anonymous, ‘Artists Make the Wheels Go Round’, Advertiser’s Weekly, Vol. 124, No. 1,615, May 4 1944, p.203

Charles Uptton

Uptton appeared to specialise in religious imagery, including 121 images for the 1960s Egermeier’s Bible Story Book were ‘especially commissioned from the internationally known artist Clive Uptton’, and illustrations for various books authored by Hilda Rostron, including ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, for Ladybird.

Information collated from: Exodus Provisions, ‘Exodus Provisions – Item Details’,, accessed October 3 2003;, ‘Listing of Ladybird Books – Series 612 – Prayers’,, accessed October 3 2003

Charles E. Turner (b.1893; d.1965)

Charles E Turner was born in Lancaster, but based in Liverpool, an artist who specialised in landscape and marine views. Proficient in watercolours and oils, Turner exhibited at the RA in London as well as Manchester and Liverpool. Turner fought in both the First and Second World Wars, as a captain in the Fleet Air Arm, combining active service with service as a war artist, signing his work C.E. Turner. Inter-war Turner had developed series of illustrations for Thomas Forman and Cunard, becoming a ‘series of excellent postcards’. His best-known work, however, dates from the two wars. Turner designed for Churchill Cigar Boxes, and, alongside paintings demonstrating his first-hand experience of combat, produced illustrations for Illustrated London News and Sphere magazines. These included ‘closely observed and highly detailed’ naval actions, which presented ‘a heightened sense of the drama of events such as this, and these appeared as double-page spreads’. He died on April 14 1965, now many of his oil and watercolour paintings of the two World Wars are preserved in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, London, and at the IWM, London.

Information collated from: National Maritime Museum, ‘Biography of Charles E Turner’,, accessed October 3 2003; Luxury Liners of the Past, ‘Postcard Artists’,, accessed October 3 2003; National Maritime Museum, ‘HMS Montrose Arriving at Reykjavik, Iceland’,…, accessed October 3 2003

A.R. Thomson

Thomson was the illustrator on the book Iolaire Forth from the Wilderness in 1937. Thomson was personally commissioned to do work for the MOI by Edwin Embleton. Sometimes spelt A.R. Thompson, he designed posters for the ‘Make your money provide the driving power’ campaign for the GPO in 1943. He was a member of the London Sketch Club in the 1970s, by which point he was also a member of the RA.

Information collated from:, ‘Authors I-J’,, accessed October 3 2003; Questionnaire submitted by Royall, K. to Embleton, E., Royall, K., ‘Posters of the Second World War: The Fourth Arm of British Defence’, Unpublished M.A., University of Westminster, 1991, p.123; Anonymous, ‘GPO Follows up Appeal to Public’, Advertiser’s Weekly, Vol. 121, No. 1,579, August 26 1943, p.264; Farman, J., ‘’,, accessed October 3 2003

Bert Thomas (b.1883; d.1966)

Bert Thomas was born in Newport, Wales to Job Thomas, a sculptor. When he left school he was apprenticed as a commercial metal engraver, specialising in the design of brass door plates. In the early 1900s Thomas moved to London and his work began to make his war in to magazines and newspapers, and he ‘quickly made his way to the front rank of humorous cartoonists’. His work was published in Punch Magazine, Evening News, London Opinion, The Graphic, and The Bystander. Married and living in Hatch End, Middlesex, prior to the First World War Thomas also designed advertisements and theatrical and commercial posters, which demonstrated a strong awareness of German design.

In the First World War Thomas designed the ‘Arf a Mo, Kaiser’ campaign for the Weekly Despatch tobacco fund campaign, through which he became known nationally, and raised £250,000 to provide troops with tobacco and cigarettes. Thomas designed posters during both world wars, mostly for the National Service and the railways in the Second. His two designs for ‘Is Your Journey Really Necessary?’ were used as posters by the Railway Executive Committee from 1942 to 1944, and occasionally as a newspaper advertisement. Thomas was a notable member of the London Sketch Club in the 1940s. He was one of many Punch Magazine artists influenced by Phil May. Thomas produced several cartoon books including Red and Black: A Book of Drawings (1928), Cartoons and Character Drawings (1936), Fun at the Seaside (1944), Fun on the Farm (1944), A Mixed Bag (1945), Fun in the Country (1946) and A Trip on a Barge (1947).

Information collated from: Darracott, J., and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1972 (1981 edition), p.56; Spartacus Schoolnet, ‘Bert Thomas’,, accessed September 21 2003; Farman, J., ‘’,, accessed October 3 2003

Fred Taylor (b.1875; d.1963)

Fred Taylor was born in London on March 22 1875, the son of William Taylor. Taylor studied briefly at Goldsmith’s College, London, where he won a gold medal for his posters, and a travelling scholarship to study in Italy. At some point working in the Waring and Gillow Studio, Taylor was a poster artist, illustrator, decorator and a watercolourist. Particularly noted as a poster artist from 1908 to the 1940s, and was regularly commissioned by the LNER, EMB and shipping companies. Taylor also exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, and other provincial societies. Taylor’s designs frequently referred to architectural subjects.

During the Second World War, Taylor was employed on naval camouflage. He also executed commissions for London Transport, including ‘Back Room Boys’, where the underlying concept and use of central image with a surrounding border were probably taken from A S Hartrick’s series of lithographs on war work called Playing the Game, 1918, although ‘their finely balanced colouring and their superb draughtsmanship are peculiar to Taylor at his best’. Married to Florence R Sarg, with a son and a daughter, Taylor is also remembered for his decorating work, most notably for ceilings for the former Underwriter’s Room at Lloyds of London, and murals for Austin Reed’s red laquer room in 1930. He was also the author of a number of publications.

Information taken from: Livingston, A. and Livingston, I., Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers, 1992, p.187, London Transport Museum Database, February 2000, quoting Riddell, 1994, Darracott, J. and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1981 (1972), p.55


Talmadge joined the RAF in 1940, having previously studied package design under Milner Gray, and ‘was in control of the packaging of a firm of canners and packers of food products for the Home and Export Markets’. The RAF gave him the ‘opportunity to study various types of aircraft and their appearance on the ground and in the air’. His images tended to depict aerial combat, and he ‘has infused a dramatic sense’ into his pictures. Largely a paintings artist, he experimented in poster design, with his design ‘did YOU tell the enemy?’ although a ‘horror’ poster, imparted ‘its message simply and adequately, the test of any good poster’. Whilst in the RAF Talmadge was engaged in cartography and painting in water-colours and oils, and provided art classes for RAF and Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) personnel.

Information collated from: L.A.C. ‘Artists in Uniform: R.H. Talmadge’, Art and Industry, Vol. 35, No. 208, October 1943, pp.121-123.


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