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Laurence Bradshaw, FRBS     Click here to view artist's biography

Portrait of Hannen Swaffer (1879-1962)

Pastel on Paper
Signed, inscribed and dated: and inscribed on the reverse 'To Swaffer on his 80th Birthday, from Laurence Bradshaw.'
21 x 17 ins. (54 x 44 cms.)
Swaffer, Hannen 1879-1962, journalist, was born at Lindfield, Sussex, 1879. An often scornful critic, at the age of eighteen he was banned from the local theatre. A time came when he boasted of having been banned from twelve of forty-one theatres in the West End of London. He joined the Daily Mail in 1902 and worked for the future Lord Northcliffe for ten years. His employer, who because of his appearance liked to call Swaffer ‘The Poet’, made him editor for a while of the Weekly Dispatch. Swaffer's best work in his Northcliffe years helped to transform the Daily Mirror, after an unhappy start as a women's journal, into a mass-circulation picture paper. After contributing ‘Plays and Players’ to the Sunday Times and being for a few months in 1924 editor of the People, he became in 1926 drama critic of the Daily Express. In this post he enjoyed full scope for his pungent candour. Campaigning against what he considered the over-Americanization of the stage and the press, he was smacked in the face by an American actress at the Savoy Hotel ‘on behalf of America’. Another phase of his life opened in 1931 when he joined the Daily Herald. In this and other Odhams publications he not only exploited his wide acquaintance with the famous and the notorious but also championed many a cause. One was socialism, to which Merrie England, by Robert Blatchford had won him over. He often wrote wisely, sometimes like a wiseacre, and always in a clear, homely style. His habit of pontification on many subjects led him to be termed, to his deep satisfaction, ‘The Pope of Fleet Street’. A portrait by John Myers, an American, hangs in the Psychic News office in London, and a bust in bronze by Laurence Bradshaw stands in the hall of Odhams Press.

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