Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Illustrated by Yaffle

The Labour Publishing Company Ltd was formed in 1920 at the suggestion of G D H Cole, at a meeting of a group called the Labour Research Department. Apparently, Cole had been approached by the economist J M Keynes with the suggestion that the LRD publish a book Keynes had been working on. In the event, that did not happen, but the seed had been sown in Cole`s mind.

Also present at the LRD meeting which approved Cole`s decision were George Bernard Shaw and Beatrice Webb.

The company was beset by problems from the outset, but managed to survive from 1920 - 1929. In 1926, they published a short play, Foiling the Reds or  The Heart of a Labourer by a playwringht using the name `Yaffle`. The play seems to be a satire on UK industrial relations at the time, though the playwright`s introduction to the LPC`s  published version of the volume is so studiedly ironic as to potentially confuse the reader as to his/her intentions.

Be that as it may, my main reason for penning this short article is to introduce you to the artistry of one `Flambo`, whose excellent work adorns this volume. Here are a few samples ;

Sadly, I`ve been unable to cast any light on the true identities of Yaffle and Flambo. It is true, apparently, that the children`s TV character Professor Yaffle (from Oliver Postgate`s TV series Bagpuss) was based on G D H Cole, but as far I know, this is just co-incidence.

At present, we do have a copy of Foiling the Reds on sale (3553 in our listings, but as I say, my main interest today is purely to introduce you to the excellent artwork. If anyone can cast any light on the identities of Yaffle and Flambo, I`d be interested to hear from you.


  1. Hi there,
    Flambo was almost certainly Philip Mendoza
    see http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2007/03/philip-mendoza-montague-phillip-mendoza.html
    His did full page cover illustrations for New Leader from 1925-1929 as well as illustrating Yaffle's weekly column.
    Yaffle was definitely Bernard Boothroyd, later humour editor of Reynolds News (and 'discoverer' of Giles) and from 1949-51 editor of Peace News. His column ran from 1929 until the end of 1933. When Flambo stopped he did his own illustrations in a similar style.

  2. Many thanks for that, much obliged. Nick.