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Western Mail Cartoon by Staniforth from June 8, 1898 during the Welsh coal strike

Joseph Morewood Staniforth (better known as J.M. Staniforth) (1863 - 21 December 1921) was a Welsh editorial cartoonist best known for his work in the Western Mail, Evening Express and Sunday weekly the News of the World.[1] Staniforth has been described as '...the most important visual commentator on Welsh affairs ever to work in the country.'[2]

Born in Cardiff, Staniforth first trained as a lithographic printer before becoming an art reviewer. [3] He started publishing cartoons in 1889.[4]

Usually published in the Western Mail, Staniforth's drawings and cartoons covered political and social unrest in Wales from 1890 through to the First World War. Although his cartoons followed editorial lines, Staniforth himself veered more towards the more tolerant Liberal-Labour movement and would attack both capitalist coal owners and the socialist unions.

In 1911 Staniforth was commissioned, by then Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George to produce a piece of artwork to commemorate the investiture of Prince Edward as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle. The artwork, in pencil and watercolour, was kept by Lloyd George who hung it in his study.[5]

Dame Wales

One of Staniforth's more famous creations was 'Dame Wales' (or Mam Cymru), a middle-aged woman dressed in the Welsh national costume, along with Welsh hat, who would embody Wales in a similar way that other cartoonists would use Britannia to symbolise Britain or the British Empire. Dame Wales was normally the voice of reason in Staniforth's cartoons and is often pictured attempting to discourage others from making decisions that would damage the country. When a spoken caption was required, Dame Wales would often be depicted talking in a working class valleys vernacular, which stands out against the language used by the more educated figures of authority she challenges. Other cartoonists would later take up the figure of Dame Wales, and would keep the same image in their work.

Cartoons depicting Dame Wales
Confronting police at a strikers 'riot', 1898  
Applauding the stance of the Welsh Rugby Union, 1897  

References

  1. ^ Welsh history and its sources OpenLearn
  2. ^ Lord, Peter 'The Visual Culture of Wales: Industrial Society' University of Wales Press; Cardiff (1998) pg.198 ISBN 9780708314968
  3. ^ The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. John Davies, Nigel Jenkins, Menna Baines and Peredur Lynch (2008) pg833 ISBN 9780708319536
  4. ^ Gathering the Jewels Website dedicated to Welsh culture
  5. ^ Rare cartoon portraying Prince of Wales' investiture up for sale Walesonline
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