David Low


David Low
David Low

David Low was a high-profile cartoonist who, at his height, had his work banned across Germany for his attacks on Adolf Hitler. His work was well-known around the world, and in 1962 he accepted a knighthood.

David Low became a working cartoonist at age 11, when the Christchurch-based weekly the Spectator began printing his work. Around this time, he also regularly contributed to the Salvation Army’s War Cry, and was an occasional police court artist for the New Zealand Truth. He failed to finish school, and learned his craft by observing Fred Rayner drawing in Cathedral Square.

After working with various Christchurch newspapers, David Low accepted a job offer with the Sydney Bulletin, a result of his regularly sending cartoons to Australian editors. His work in Australia led to a 1915 collection of his caricatures, and in 1918 The Billy Book was released, focusing on his then Australian politician W. M. Hughes. He sent copies of The Billy Book to editors in Britain, which led to his employment in London at the Star.

In London, David Low made a habit of lambasting the government, but it wasn’t until he joined the Evening Standard in 1927 that he enjoyed true artistic freedom. Throughout the 1930s, his constant assaults on European dictators led to his inclusion on the Gestapo arrest list, and his work helped to define fascism.

David Low also made a name for himself as a broadcaster, with regular appearances on the BBC overseas service. He received honorary degrees from the universities of New Brunswick and Leicester, as well as the knighthood in 1962 (having declined one in the 1930s).

Adapted by Patrick Whatman from the DNZB biography by Susan E. Foster

Read the full entry in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

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