Archive for the ‘Your country needs you’ Category

How Kitchener inspired the nation for Dunkirk

August 4, 2017
Picture Post for the week of 1 June 1940

Kitchener leads the nation again in the week of Dunkirk from the cover of Picture Post (1 June 1940)

Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk has certainly brought the legend of the ‘Little Ships’ armada that rescued so many Allied troops back into the world’s imagination. In 1940, the media that the British will have turned to was BBC radio and Picture Post magazine.

And the image that editor Stefan Lorant chose to put on his magazine’s front cover the week of Dunkirk was Alfred Leete’s Your Country Needs You. It was a cover that will have gone to press before May 29, when the evacuation was announced to the British public. But then Lorant may well have known what was happening to the British Expeditionary Force through his contact with Churchill.

Boat owners certainly responded to the call – making up the bulk in number of the 860 vessels that were involved.  Some 200 of the small craft that epitomised the Dunkirk spirit were sunk. However, by the time the operation ended on June 4, 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops had been saved. Another 220,000 troops were rescued  from other French ports.

The presence of this force was undoubtedly a factor in forcing Hitler to rethink his invasion plans, but the war was not going well for Britain – its allies were dropping like nine pins – and Lorant must have been in more fear for his life than most people in Britain. Lorant was a Hungarian Jew who had been imprisoned by Hitler for his work on weekly papers in Germany. In Britain, he promoted the work of many other Continental exiles, including Walter Trier, who drew the Lilliput covers for 20 years, the photographer Bill Brandt and the photomontages of John Heartfield, probably best remembered for his Elephants Might Fly reaction to the Munich agreement (15 October 1938).

Lorant had lambasted the Nazi regime in his book, I Was Hitler’s Prisoner, which was turned into a BBC Radio play; in the pages of Weekly Illustrated, which he had launched for Odhams in 1934; in the delectible Lilliput, which he founded, as well as Picture Post. So he must have been well up on Hitler’s hit list.

Walter Trier's cover for first Lilliput magazine in 1937

Walter Trier’s cover for first Lilliput magazine in 1937

Soon after Lorant went to America in mid-1940, Picture Post‘s two most important cameramen – Felix Man and Kurt Hutton, both German emigres – were interned on the Isle of Man. The magazine set about negotiating for their release, but their fates will not have assuaged Lorant’s fears and he emigrated to the US. As Lorant told his deputy Tom Wilkinson, who went on to become editor of Picture Post:

‘You British citizens will be all right – all you’ll lose is the freedom to say what you think. But we bloody foreigners will be handed over … I’ve been Hitler’s prisoner once in Munich, I’m not waiting for him to catch up with me a second time.’

The Kitchener-covered Picture Post issue was larger than usual and was focused on Britain’s leaders, with 32 pages devoted to government members. Lorant was a big fan of Churchill. The section starts with photographs comparing a ‘grimly determined’ Churchill in 1914 with him ‘grimly determined again’ in 1940.

Back in February 1939, Lorant had sent Wickham Steed, a former editor of The Times, and cameraman Felix Man to Chartwell and interview Winston Churchill at his home. As David Marcou writes in his thesis, ‘All the Best’:

‘Churchill – the man the Tories didn‘t trust – was no more than a backbencher under the Chamberlain administration. He‘d held no office since being Chancellor of the Exchequer under Stanley Baldwin a decade before. Steed concluded his profile: “His abiding care is the safety of Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth. Should some great emergency arise … his qualities and experience might then be national assets; and the true greatness, which he has often seemed to miss by a hair‘s breadth, might, by common consent, be his.” In its introduction, Picture Post added its own prophetic comment: At 64, the greatest moment of his life has still to come.’

Picture Post covered the German offensive with a dramatic story―’Blitzkrieg’ in the June 8 issue.

‘The lightning war smites Europe. It blisters its way between the Allied Armies, cleaving them in two. It carves out a charred road to the English Channel. It scorches the Belgian Army and stuns the Belgian King into surrender.’

Alongside the words is a full-page photo of a man with a girl lying nearby, which tells the story of what war was doing to innocents. The picture caption reads:

We dedicate this picture to the Fuhrer. We dedicate this picture to the ‘moderate’ Goering. We dedicate this picture to those of our own politicians who promised us that Germany would never be allowed to attain air-parity with Britain; that they had secured peace for our time; that they were abundantly confident of victory … It shows a Dutch father wounded all over, but forgetful of what he is suffering. The dead girl on the corner is his daughter.

It’s no wonder that Lorant decided to put the Atlantic ocean between himself and Hitler. However, he had burned his bridges well before. As I point out in A History of British Magazine Design, Tom Hopkinson identifies the seven pages of ‘Back to the Middle Ages’ (26 November 1938) as ‘the finest example of the use of photographs for political effect’. He describes how Lorant drew up the pages to hit back at ‘This bloody Hitler. These bloody pogroms!’

British Library celebrates Russia’s revolution

March 6, 2017
A Russian revolution version of Alfred Leete's Kitchener poster and magazine cover from 1914

Russian revolutionary propaganda based on Alfred Leete’s Kitchener magazine cover

The British Library has chosen one of the many derivatives of Alfred Leete’s Kitchener image to front its latest exhibition, Russian revolution: hopes, tragedies, myths. The exhibition will also show Lenin’s handwritten application for a reader pass to the library.

British Library. Index slip recording the issue of a reader ticket for the Reading Room at the British Museum to Karl Marx

Record of the issue of a pass for the Reading Room at the British Museum to Marx

Anyone fancying seeing more Lenin relics can pop across to the Marx Memorial Library & Workers’ School in nearby Clerkenwell, where you can visit the room where Lenin worked, which has been kept as he left it. Next year marks the bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth, which both the Marx Library and the British Library are gearing up to celebrate.

London Opinion 1914

The original magazine cover

The Kitchener image was first seen on the cover of  London Opinion magazine.  Don’t pay any attention to the British Library captioning it as a poster in an article by the historian Professor David Welch. It’s an error that people and institutions have spent a century making, from Picture Post in 1940 to the Royal Mint in 2014.

The full story of Alfred Leete’s cover illustration for London Opinion is told in the book, The Amazing Kitchener Poster.

On this day in magazines: Punch and Thatcher in 1977

February 24, 2017
How Trog portrayed Thatcher for Punch in 1977 (February 23)

How Trog portrayed Thatcher for Punch in 1977 (February 23)

‘Trog’ – Willy Fawkes – was a prolific cartoonist and did several Margaret Thatcher caricatures for Punch. This 1977 cover illustrated an article entitled, ‘What to do about the baby shortage’. The Conservative Party leader would not became prime minister for another two years. Here, she is portrayed as pregnant in the pose made famous by Alfred Leete in the ‘Your Country Needs You’ image of Lord Kitchener.

Thatcher had been a member of parliament since 1959 and became Edward Heath’s education secretary in 1970, a post she held for four years until the Tories lost power. She replaced Heath to become leader of the opposition and in 1979 won the first of her three premierships, losing the party leadership to John Major in 1990. Next are two more Thatcher depictions by Trog, all also before she became PM.

Trog turns to Dickens for inspiration in this Thatcher caricature from 1971 for Punch magazine cover

Trog turns to Dickens for inspiration in this Thatcher caricature from 20 July 1971 for Punch

In 1971, Trog had turned to Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist for inspiration, a serial first published in Bentley’s Miscellany magazine in 1837, with a George Cruikshank engraving of the above scene. The Punch cartoon has Thatcher in the role of Mr Bumble, the workhouse beadle, taking umbrage at Oliver asking for more gruel. She was education secretary at this time and cut spending. In 1974, and caused a furore and was nicknamed ‘Thatcher the milk snatcher‘ for ending the practice of primary schoolchildren being given a small bottle of milk each day.

Thatcher as a hippy! Trog for Punch in 1975

Thatcher finds the grass is greener as a hippy! Trog for Punch in 1975

The idea of Thatcher as a spliff-smoking, guitar-strumming hippy is the sort of thing that would have to come from a cartoonist like Trog. The Punch cover is from October 8, 1975, a year after she had replaced Edward Heath as  leader of the Conservative Party.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


Festival celebrates 100 years of advertising

February 4, 2017
The Cadbury's Smash Martians

A great favourite from the 1970s: the Cadbury’s Smash Martians

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is to hold a festival in March celebrating its founding 100 years ago. The theme of the events will be  celebrating the most creative adverts, ‘from the PG Chimps to the Smash Martians and the Cadbury’s drumming gorilla; from Lord Kitchener’s ‘Your Country Needs You’ to John Lewis’s Buster the boxer’.

The IPA’s festival takes place over four days centred around an exhibition at the Boilerhouse, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, from the 9th to the 12th of March.

Alongside the exhibition will be events such as a screening and Q&A with Oscar-winning director Sir Alan Parker; a ‘romp’ through the relationship between pop music and commercials; and a tour through the funniest ads.

A great favourite from the 1970s are the Martians developed by Boase Massimi Pollitt for Cadbury’s Smash dried potato. Those Martians were the Meerkats of their day and Cadbury’s linked up with children’s comics to promote them. Car workers at Vauxhall in Ellesmere Post and Ford in Halewood made Martian models from car parts and hawked them around the local pubs at 50p at time. The only problem was that the car parts probably cost £10!

I hope they remember that Alfred Leete’s ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster with the pointing Lord Kitchener was originally an editorial magazine cover!

 

Was Kitchener’s poster effective? Ask Winston Churchill

July 6, 2016
Churchill's Great War partwork from 1933

The third part of Churchill’s Great War partwork from 1933

There has been a theory promulgated by the Imperial War Museum and various writers that the iconic ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster was not very effective in driving recruitment in the First World War and some have even questioned its very existence. The British Library repeats the claims and describes it as an ‘advertisment’, a mistaken description that has been repeated by, among others, Wikipedia and in a concert programme from the London Symphony Orchestra.

One of the features of the book Kitchener wants You, which I wrote with Martyn Thatcher, is a timeline of images that track the poster’s use, and its many derivatives, over the past century. However, I did not come across any examples in the 1930s, until I found a copy of The Great War, a 1933 partwork by Winston Churchill that was published by George Newnes.

The Kitchener poster shown in the third part of Churchill's Great War partwork in 1933

The Kitchener poster shown in the third part of the Great War partwork in 1933

Page 132 of the third part, above, shows the poster with a credit to the Imperial War Museum. The caption reads:

A FAMOUS RECRUITING POSTER.
Lord Kitchener’s recruiting campaign in 1914 was carried out with characteristic driving force. Every town and village up and down the country was placarded with posters urging men to join the colours for the duration of the war. The illustration above was reproduced from one of the most effective of all posters in use at that time.

So, Churchill’s partwork claims that it was ‘one of the most effective of all posters’. Kitchener wants You shows three photographs of the poster, in Liverpool, Chester and Ulster. There is a fourth image, from Cork in Ireland, thar also shows the poster on a wall.

So, Churchill reckons it was effective and there are at least four photographs of the poster in use. That should settle the argument.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Lord Kitchener – the life of his image. Part 5

June 20, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914HMS Hampshire sank on 5 June 1916 on her way to Russia, taking Lord Kitchener down with her. Kitchener was the face of the Empire and had led the biggest recruiting campaign in modern history, a campaign that also changed the nature of propaganda, advertising and graphic design. This is the fifth post this weeek based based on images from Kitchener Wants You, a book I have written with Martyn Thatcher that examines the story of the man, the famous poster and how that image has retained its hold on the imagination of people across the world.

Leete’s image today

private_eye_2016june_kitchener.jpgDaily mail 1961 July 14 ridicules Macmillan as KitchenerEvery day, someone, somewhere, makes use of Alfred Leete’s 112-year-old drawing of Kitchener. Above is an example from this week’s Private Eye magazine, making a pun on ‘EU’ and ‘you’ with ‘Your country doesn’t need EU’ as part of its EU referendum coverage. The wording also refers back to one of the early subversions of the image – the Daily Mail ridiculing Harold Macmillan, the prime minister, with the words: ‘But does your country need you’ (1961).

And it’s not just the press. In the village of Harkstead in Suffolk today, I walked past a reproduction of one of the First World War posters with the wording: ‘Your Country Needs You … to help repaint the village playground.’ From Britain’s leading satirical magazine to a village noticeboard, it’s difficult to escape that iconic Kitchener image. The images below give a hint of the reason why.

In summary: The magazine cover that started it all
London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914

Alfred Leete’s London Opinion cover in September 1914

The idea of the recruiting poster catches on across the globe
One of three recruiting posters that used Leete’s image in 1914-15

One of three recruiting posters that used Leete’s image in 1914-15

US artist James Montgomery Flagg copies Leete’s idea for Leslie’s (6 July 1916)

US artist James Montgomery Flagg cover for Leslie’s (6 July 1916)

One of many US recruiting posters used from 1917

US posters used Flagg’s artwork once the US entered the war in 1917

The image is revived in WW2 and continues to be used
Picture Post for the week of 1 June 1940

The Hungarian editor of Picture Post uses Leete’s image in 1940

 

 

russian kitchener_1941

Russian poster from WW2: ‘You. How have you helped the front?’

Leete’s image sparks many ideas
Big Brother poster in film version of George Orwell’s 1984 (published 1949)

 

Big Brother poster from a film of George Orwell’s book 1984, which was published in 1949

Punch deplores the loss of Sudan civil servants (1955)

Punch deplores the way local civil servants are treated in the Sudan (1955)

 

Daily Telegraph 1955 magazine chooses Leete artwork as an iconic image

Daily Telegraph marks its centenary and chooses Leete’s artwork as an iconic image of the past 100 years

Philip Magnus biography of Kitchener as an imperialist

Biography of an imperialist by Philip Magnus with an Osbert Lancaster caricature

Daily mail 1961 July 14 ridicules Macmillan as KitchenerDaily Mail ridicules Harold Macmillan, the prime minister (1961): ‘But does your country need you’
The stern pointing image is subverted in Britain and then the US
oh_what_a_lovely_war_2016mar_3_stanford_uni

2016 Stanford version of the 1962 Joan Littlewood play Oh What a Lovely War

Kitchener’s face is a symbol of Carnaby St in the Swinging SixtiesA symbol of Carnaby St in the Swinging Sixties 1967_Honey_magazine_cover_as_kitchenerGirl power 1967-style on cover of young women’s magazine Honey Black activists in the US portray Uncle Sam as trying to wipe out their race (1968)

Black activists in the US portray Uncle Sam as trying to wipe out their race (1968)

i_want_out_vietnam_war_protest_poster

From the late 1960s, Vietnam War protestors subverted the imagery. This is from 1971

Leete’s image continues to resonate to this day
recruitment poster based on Leete's Kitchener imageFirst army campaign aimed at recruiting officers from ethnic minorities  (1997)

2002 Dr Who magazine with Lethbridge Stewart in the Kitchener pose (August 21)

Lethbridge-Stewart fronts Dr Who magazine:  ‘We want you as a Who recruit!’ (2002)

The Economist puts the US Treasury secretary in the Kitchener pose in 2008

Financial crisis: Economist cover of US Treasury secretary Henry ‘Hank’ Paulson (2008)

Radio Times has used Leete’s image for Robbie Williams, Lord Sugar and Jeremy Paxman

Radio Times has used Leete’s idea for Lord Sugar, Robbie Williams and Jeremy Paxman

Karl Marx as the Uncle Sam derivative of KItchener

Uncle Sam – arch symbol of capitalism – is  used by the Karl Marx library in London (2016)

READ THE BOOK: Kitchener Wants You by Martyn Thatcher and Anthony Quinn

Lord Kitchener – the legend lives on. Part 4

June 11, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914HMS Hampshire sank on 5 June 1916 on her way to Russia, taking Lord Kitchener down with her. Kitchener was the face of the Empire and had led the biggest recruiting campaign in modern history, a campaign that also changed the nature of propaganda, advertising and graphic design. This is the fourth post this weeek based based on images from Kitchener Wants You, a book I have written with Martyn Thatcher that examines the story of the man, the famous poster and how that image has retained its hold on the imagination of people across the world.

Picture Post for the week of 1 June 1940

Picture Post magazine cover for the week of 1 June 1940

Leete’s Kitchener image is revived

Alfred Leete’s Kitchener image for London Opinion was donated to the Imperial War Museum, where it was only catalogued as a poster. Although the image appeared in some exhibitions after the war, it was not regarded as a great example of poster art, unlike the wartime posters of people such as Frank Brangwyn, Gerald Spencer Pryse and Edward McKnight Kauffer.

When the Second World War broke out, conscription was brought in immediately and the British government decided to use more subtle techniques for poster campaigns. So, there was no place for Leete’s image, although a different tack was taken in the US, which did re-use James Montgomery Flagg’s Uncle Sam version of the Kitchener artwork. The Russians also adopted the Leete imagery, but with the image of a painting soldier.
However, the most famous photo magazine of the era, Picture Post, did feel Leete’s artwork was worth dusting off. It was carried on the front of the popular weekly, dated 1 June 1940. It not only marked the week of Kitchener’s death, but was also the week of the BEF’s retreat from Dunkirk.
From then on, Kitchener’s face became a frequent reference, for cartoonists, for people and organisations marking iconic events in the 20th century, and for just about anybody wanting to draw attention to anything.

 Attitudes to Kitchener change

Philip Magnus biography of Kitchener as an imperialist

1958 biography of Kitchener by Philip Magnus

A 1958 biography of Kitchener by Philip Magnus portrayed him as an arch imperialist, out of touch with modern values. The April 1955 issue of Lilliput magazine described Kitchener as Britain’s Big Brother, an ironic comparison given that the WWI Kitchener posters probably inspired George Orwell’s descriptions of the character in 1984.

This period very much sees the end of empire as country after country is given independence or fights against British control. Furthermore, Britons were adopting a less deferential attitude towards the establishment, which was soon seen in theatre and the satire boom as well as in the press.

Joan Littlewood’s 1962 play Oh What a Lovely War drew on the Alan Clark book The Donkeys to portray the First World War from the point of view of the frontline soldier. It made great use of Leete’s imagery, both onstage and for publicity, and shook up both British attitudes and theatre itself. It was shown in New York and made into a film. It’s a play that resonates to this day.

Kitchener in Carnaby Street

I was Lord Kitchener's Valet

I was Lord Kitchener’s Valet

The mid-1960s saw Kitchener’s face in a different context: fronting the fashionable boutique I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet and becoming a symbol of Carnaby Street and the Swinging Sixties. Lord Kitchener’s Valet sold secondhand uniforms, which were taken up by pop stars such as The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.

The shop sign by Pat Hartnett, which is in the V&A, was inspired by Leete’s Kitchener image.

Later in the decade, it was protesters against a contemporary conflict – the Vietnam War – who turned to Leete’s imagery, though it was the James Montgomery Flagg variant.

Leete’s image is subverted

Campaigning groups in the US took the pointing Uncle Sam from the Flagg artwork and diverted its meaning for their own purposes. There was Uncle Sam as a death skeleton, bandaged up and demanding relief, and as an aggressive recruiter of young black men seeking human fodder from the city ghettoes for an imperialist, overseas war.

Black activists in the US portray Uncle Sam as trying to wipe out their race (1968)

Black activists in the US portray Uncle Sam as trying to wipe out their race (1968)

 

i_want_out_vietnam_war_protest_poster
From the late 1960s, Vietnam War protestors subverted the imagery. This is from 1971
Vietnam War protest poster - Uncle Sam as a death skeletonUncle Sam portrayed as a death skeleton tempting recruits to fight in the Vietnam War

Next: The modern images

 

Lord Kitchener – a mysterious death. Part 3

June 8, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914When HMS Hampshire sank on 5 June 1916 on her way to Russia, taking Lord Kitchener down with her, Britain – and a large part of the rest of the world – was in a state of disbelief. Although Kitchener had become isolated from his cabinet colleagues, he was the face of the Empire and had led the biggest recruiting campaign in modern history, a campaign that also changed the nature of propaganda, advertising and graphic design. This is the third post this weeek based based on images from Kitchener Wants You, a book I have written with Martyn Thatcher.

London, Paris, New York: how three papers mourned Kitchener

Daily Mirror of June 1916 with a Kitchener memorial_issue

Daily Mirror of June 1916 with a Kitchener memorial issue

Cover of Le Petit Journal of 25 June 1916

Cover of Le Petit Journal with a colour portrait (25 June 1916)

New York Times reports KItchener's death on its front page

New York Times reports Kitchener’s death on its front page

How the press reported Kitchener’s death

News of the death of Britain’s war lord quickly spanned the globe and it was front page news from London to Paris, to Delhi to New York. Soon, conspiracy theories emerged: that Kitchener had survived; that the government had him murdered; that he had reached Russia and changed his name to Stalin. A former Boer spy emerged to claim he had been on the ship and guided the U-boat. There were even reports in the Orkneys that troops had prevented locals trying to rescue survivors.

These stories have inspired conspiracy theorists to this day. As late as last week, the Daily Mirror ran a story: ‘Death of WW1 poster icon Lord Kitchener remains shrouded in conspiracy theories 100 years onby Warren Manger (4 June, pages 26 and 27).

Pictorial Weekly on the conspiracy theories in March 1934

Pictorial Weekly on the conspiracy theories in March 1934

Lilliput revisits the theories in May 1955

Lilliput revisits the theories in May 1955

French magazine Histoire on the Kitchener mystery in 1981

French magazine Histoire on the mystery in 1981

Tomorrow: The legend lives on

 

Lord Kitchener – the recruitment posters. Part 2

June 7, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914Sunday saw the start of a string of events this week to mark the centenary of the death of Lord Kitchener, whose face has become a global icon since he was depicted on the front cover of London Opinion magazine in a famous illustration by Alfred Leete.

Kitchener Wants You, a book I have written with Martyn Thatcher, tracks Kitchener’s career and examines how he was portrayed by magazines and the press from his rise to fame in the Sudan to the present day. This week, I’ll do a post a day based on images from the book – many of which are rarely seen – and some I’ve discovered only recently.

Three images of Kitchener from 1914 and 1915

A smiling Kitchener on the cover of Home Chat in 1915

A smiling Kitchener on the cover of Home Chat in 1915

Kitchener on the cover of Illustrated War News in June 1914

Kitchener on the cover of Illustrated War News in June 1914

How the US magazine Collier's depicted Kitchener in September 1914

How the US magazine Collier’s depicted Kitchener

Alfred Leete’s painting of Kitchener

Alfred Leete drew the London Opinion magazine cover at the top of the page, which was picked up as an image and used for at least three recruitment posters. Leete was one of the leading black-and-white artists of his day, and produced covers, cartoons and illustrations for London Opinion alongside Bert Thomas (who beame famous for his ‘Arf a Mo, Kaiser’ advert for the Weekly Dispatch tobacco fund). Leete’s Kitchener artwork ended up in the Imperial War Museum and has been reproduced in many books, though usually only credited as a poster, or sometimes, mistakenly, as an advertisement. It is worth examining the artwork at the IWM, which has been digitised to its full size and can be examined in detail online.

There were many other depictions of Kitchener, as shown above, but Leete’s is the one that most people remember.

Martyn Thatcher shows how Kitchener became a poster

Martyn Thatcher explores how Kitchener became a poster

All of the artists and magazines chose to portray a younger Kitchener – he was 64 when the war broke out, but most used older photographs, in the case of Leete from one dating back 20 years to about 1895. Martyn Thatcher has explored how the mage was produced and in the process did the above design merging a photograph into Leete’s illustration. Note in particular how Leete built up the moustache and opened the eye. The collar is also simplifed so as not to detract from the face.

Part 1: Kitchener – the legend remembered

Tomorrow: the reaction to Kitchener’s death

Lord Kitchener – the legend remembered. Part 1

June 6, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914Sunday saw the start of a string of events this week to mark the centenary of the death of Lord Kitchener, whose face has become a global icon since he was depicted on the front cover of London Opinion magazine in a famous illustration by Alfred Leete.

Hundreds of newspaper stories appeared over the weekend about Kitchener, all tagged to the centenary. Several books have been launched or republished, and having just written Kitchener Wants You with Martyn Thatcher, I now find it near impossible to walk down a street without seeing the illustration or one of its many derivatives.

Kitchener Wants You tracks Kitchener’s career and examines how he was portrayed by magazines and the press from his rise to fame in the Sudan to the present day. This week, I’ll do a post a day based on images from the book – many of which are rarely seen – and some I’ve discovered only recently.

Out of Africa: the hero emerges

Kitchener on the cover of a part work about the Boer War in 1900

Kitchener on the cover of a part work about the Boer War in 1900

Kitchener made his name in North Africa, regaining control lost in an uprising by the Madhi that had resulted in the killing of General Gordon. Over two years, in a campaign that was notable for Kitchener’s brilliance in logistics, the Sirdar (commander-in-chief of Egypt’s forces) added a million square miles to the empire and ultimately massacred the forces of the Madhi’s successor, the Kalifa, Abdulla, at Omdurman.

Some 10,000 Dervishes were killed against a loss of just 48 British troops. It was an army armed with swords comping up against military technology in the form of the Maxim machine gun and modern artillery. However, there was controversy after the desecration of the Madhi’s tomb, and tales that Kitchener wwanted to turn the skull into an ink well.

Yet the country went wild with praise and Kitchener’s movements were closely followed. The press christened him ‘The Avenger of Gordon’.

After the battle, Kitchener sent a telegraph to a colleague in Cairo: ‘The effect of having killed 30,000 Dervishes is that I have 300,000 women on my hands, and I should be much obliged if you could instruct me how to dispose of them.’ His reward was to be made a baron and £30,000. That was in 1898. The next year saw him in South Africa, fighting the Boers. He signed a peace treaty in 1902, being rewarded with a viscounty and £50,000.

Surrounded by women: detail from a 1902 photograph of Kitchener at a garden party

Surrounded by women: Kitchener at a garden party

But the problem of being chased by women did not go away, as this detail from a 1902 photograph of the six-foot-two-tall Lord Kitchener at a Kensington Garden party shows. The caption read: ‘Our batchelor general Lord Kitchener – weaponless, beleaguered and retreat cut off.’

Kitchener has been described as a jackdaw collector of fine china, and a dedicated  gardener. He appears to have ben tongue-tied among politicians and was ‘either very stupid or very clever’ according to Mrs Asquith, the wife of the prime minister.

The next 12 years were spent in India and then Egypt as consul-gereneral. He was on his way back there on August 3 1914 when he was hauled off a Channel ferry on the orders of Asquith and appointed secretary of state for war.

Tomorrow: Leete and his famous Kitchener portrait