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A Fanciful Picture of the Annual Dinner of the Omar Khayyam Society

September 9, 2019

Joe Howard has sent us an interesting contribution about a drawing done by the cartoonist and book illustrator George Morrow.

The pen and ink drawing shown below is by the well-known cartoonist and book illustrator, George Morrow (1870-1955). The caption states “ENTERTAINMENTS AT WHICH WE HAVE NEVER ASSISTED. Fanciful Picture of the Annual Dinner of the Omar Khayyam Society.”  The drawing has been dated to the 1930’s, but I have not seen any evidence supporting this.

JH Image 1 Morrow cartoon from Punch page without page details

Morrow had a long association with Punch and eventually joined its staff in 1924; serving as art editor from 1932 to 1937. He is credited with 2704 cartoons, the last of which appeared in Punch a month before he died, aged 85. 

Morrow gave the above drawing to Kenneth Bird CBE in 1951 with the request that “…he pass it on for presentation to the Club”. Bird recorded Morrow’s gift in a letter dated 10/4/1951. It was handwritten on Punch notepaper, and addressed to the OK Club president, R. Lawrence Marsh.

At the time, Bird was a member, and past president, of the OK Club of London and the editor of Punch. He was also an accomplished cartoonist who first submitted a cartoon to Punch in 1916. In fact, Bird succeeded Morrow as art editor of Punch in 1937 and gained fame during WW11 for his propaganda posters, notably those on the theme “Careless talk costs lives”.  This work earned him his CBE. Bird’s successor as editor of Punch was Malcolm Muggeridge, who was a guest at the OK Club dinner at Kettner’s on 20/11/1952.

The picture’s caption implies that Morrow had not attended a club dinner, at least up to the date he drew it. Morrow is not listed in The Second Book of the Omar Khayyam Club 1910-1929 and I have searched the rather limited number of OK Club dinner menus I have available (for 1930-1951), and do not see him listed. Although Bird mentions a connection between the drawing and Punch, I have been unsuccessful in deciphering his handwriting to determine the nature of that relationship. My search of an on-line database of cartoons published in Punch does not yield any hits for the picture shown.

If any reader knows more about the origins and history of this drawing, or about any links between Morrow and the Omar Khayyam Club of London, please comment below.  Our thanks to Joe for sharing his findings. 


2 Comments leave one →
  1. martinrkim permalink
    September 9, 2019 2:49 pm

    An interesting set of observations

    Martin Kimeldorf Sorry 4 typos on small screen


  2. Joe Howard permalink
    September 13, 2019 9:21 pm

    I can now confirm that this “fanciful” cartoon was published in Punch on Wednesday November 25th. 1925; vol 169, issue# 4433 page 579. There are no references to it on the page, as is customary with Punch.

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