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John Leech (1817-1864)

Nationality - British

Magazines and Newspapers published in - Bentley's Miscellany, Ingoldsby Legends, Shilling, Punch, London Magazine

Books - Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Comic History of England, Comic History of Rome

Biography - Born in London, Leech's first illustrations were published after his teachers at medical school noticed his excellent anatomical drawings. Leaving the school, Leech tried to make a living from his art. He had several pamphlets published, influenced by the works of George Cruikshank and James Gillray, then began working for the London Magazine, before going on to produce illustrations for Punch. Thousands of his drawings were published over the next two decades. Most of Leech's illustrations had a political slant, and he held quite radical views, questioning capitalism and focusing on issues such as poverty. It was through his work on Punch he met Charles Dickens, which led to Leech illustrating A Christmas Carol. Leech's illustration from 1843 in Punch named 'Cartoon Number 1 - Substance and Shadow' was the first time the word 'cartoon' was used to describe such a drawing, and why we still use that word today.

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