Courting the colonies
Linley Sambourne, Punch, and imperial allegory
in Comic empires
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This chapter details how Punch cartoonist Linley Sambourne imagined key colonial encounters (in Africa and Samoa) in gendered terms. Particularly in the case of Samoa, Sambourne used allegories of romantic (and not so romantic) courtship and conquest, drawing on themes found in the novels of H. Rider Haggard, travel memoirs, and the like. The relevance of such imaginings is discerned not only in the context of the largely male-dominated enterprise of High Victorian imperialism, but also the all-male fraternity of the Punch editorial table, and Sambourne’s own personal sexual politics. An amateur photographer, he used the nude frequently in his work, creating ‘mixed mode’ cartoons that blended allegorical figures (e.g. John Bull, the ‘African Venus’) with caricatures of real-world statesmen (e.g. Bismarck, Cecil Rhodes).

Comic empires

Imperialism in cartoons, caricature, and satirical art


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