Richard Warren

20thc British art and poetry (mainly), plus bits of my own – "Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

Ally Sloper’s Jubilee

As all the jolly nonsense kicks off, here’s a great moment from a much earlier Jubilee – the “gratis plate” from the 1887 Golden Jubilee number of Ally Sloper’s Half-Holiday, wonderfully drawn by W F Thomas, who took over the character from William Baxter. Alexander Sloper Esq, F.O.M. (Friend of Man) provided an irreverent take on events of the time, but was always kept, ultimately, within respectable limits; Sloper may have been a ducker and diver, but he was also a definite royalist. Here, to mark the occasion, he is created Baron Sloper of Mildew Court by Her Majesty, who uses his umbrella for the purpose. (Click for a more detailed view.)

The caption identifies the celebrities present (real or fictional, showbiz, royal or otherwise) as Lord Randolph Churchill, the Marquis of Salisbury, Arthur Roberts, Sir Arthur Sullivan, His Grace the Dook Snook, Mrs Langtry, W J Penley, George Grossmith, Henry Irving, Lord Charles Beresford, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, Herr Winklemeir, Mrs Weldon, Chirgwin, the Hon Billy, Lardi Longsox, Uncle Boffin, Nellie Farren, Tootsie Sloper, Tottie Goodenough, Phyllis Broughton, Mrs Sloper, W Terriss, Alexandry Sloper, Jubilee Sloper (the baby), Charles Bradlaugh, the Lord Mayor of London, W H Smith, Red Shirt, Buffalo Bill, Lord Bob, the Princess of Wales, Ellen Terry, HRH the Duke of Cambridge, HRH the Prince of Wales, the Right Hon W E Gladstone, the Elder McNab, Snatcher, and Toddles (the two dogs). Some Google opportunities there. But where is Ally’s partner in crime, Ikey Mo? Was he a bit too Jewish to be granted entry on this occasion?

I suppose this style of “truthful” comic art, like the amazing Snark illustrations of Henry Holiday, was at its root informed by Pre-Raphaelitism. (The Half-Holiday was published by Gilbert Dalziel, nephew of the Dalziel brothers.) There’s plenty of Sloper elsewhere on the net, but apparently not this image, which I’ve lifted from Denis Gifford’s 1976 Victorian Comics. For more, it’s well worth using the browse button here. For an intelligent account of the Sloper phenomenon, go here.

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2 responses to “Ally Sloper’s Jubilee

  1. Alan Munton June 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    I saw the Aardman animated comedy “Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists!” last night. It was wonderfully subversive about Queen Victoria, who was effectively the villain. She was pop-eyed and given a huge arse (there were armaments below), yet recognizable. Here, she is treated with the utmost respect, and the apparent mayhem starts only at the end of her fingers. The future Edward VIII has his hands over his ears, but is treated respectfully. Limited irreverence, as you say. The “Pirates!” film was just right for Jubilee weekend, but was still limited in its opposition: not respectable, but not too disrespectful either. Given the change in attitudes since 1887, it could easily have gone further. Maybe Ally Sloper and Aardman are not so far apart.

  2. Goetz Kluge June 3, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Yes, you supposed this style of “truthful” comic art, like the amazing Snark illustrations of Henry Holiday, was at its root informed by Pre-Raphaelitism. You’ll like this:
    Holiday - Millais - anonymous -  Galle

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