Swansea University to lead 'Cartooning the First World War in Wales' digital Centenary project

Posted on centenarynews.com on 18 May 2013
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Swansea University, Wales, has received almost £70,000 in Heritage Lottery Funding to digitise the wartime work of an influential Welsh newspaper cartoonist, J M Staniforth.

J M Staniforth is known for his drawings in the Western Mail - his cartoons depicted Welsh attitudes to the First World War. Amongst his most famous creations was 'Mam Cymru' ('Dame Wales'), who symbolised Wales.

The digitisation project will put online up to 1,350 of Stainforth's drawings, including those cartoons which appeared in other publications such as The News of the World.

The Cartooning the First World War in Wales project will be led by the Director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, Professor Chris Williams.

Professor Williams explained: "Staniforth's cartoons for the paper [Western Mail] during the war constitute a remarkable record of one man's creative response to the conflict".

"While he sometimes used humour to get his message across, his work was mostly serious in nature, providing as it did a daily commentary on the war’s progress in France and Flanders.  He saw his role as that of a morale booster, to drum up public support and belief in the war".

The University of Swansea will also be working with the Historical Association, the National Library of Wales, National Museum of Wales, Welsh Heritage Schools Intiative and the Western Front Association, Llafur: Welsh People’s History Society on the project.

The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, welcomed the project: "These cartoons are a unique portrait of Wales at a time of great upheaval and grief and I am delighted that they will soon be accessible to all. Staniforth's work may be described as 'cartoons', but this shouldn't diminish their value. His satire held up a mirror to a conflict that shaped us as a nation. They are as important as ever as we prepare to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War".

To read the full press release, visit the University of Swansea website here.

Images courtesy of the University of Swansea

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News