Mr Punch and the Iron Duke

The Duke of Wellington proved a gift to the cartoonists of 'Punch' - he was a figure the magazine's readership would recognise, and he did not look unlike Mr Punch himself.

The Duke of Wellingtons headquarters at Waterloo (Wellington Museum, Waterloo)Writing of the 'queen's business' which had aroused such popular interest in 1820, the Duke of Buckingham noted in no uncertain terms that Caroline's cause '... had enjoyed every assistance which a considerable portion of the press could afford it... George Cruickshank manufactured the most stinging satires and the most ludicrous caricatures'. What Buckingham failed to realise however, was that Cruickshank's unprecedented success lay chiefly in his ability to identify and encapsulate popular opinion. Indeed, over the ensuing three decades, there was a veritable mushrooming both of the newspaper and periodical press, in an attempt to satisfy the intellectual needs of an increasingly politicised nation. With the relative decline in popularity after 1832 of the political caricature in the Cruickshank tradition, as sold in the form of individual prints, there was consequently room on the market for a new form of caricature in popular journalism. It was in this context that Punch was launched in 1841.

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