Friday, 2 November 2012

Guest post: Memories of Dudley D Watkins by Angela Keyworth

I'm delighted to share this wonderful guest post by Angela Keyworth (nee Watkins). Thank you so much Angela I'm sure readers of this blog will enjoy it every bit as much as I did.

Memories of my Uncle Dudley D Watkins

Will Watkins was a lithographic print artist.  He came from London to Nottingham in search of work, where he met and married my Grandmother, Eva Charlotte Dexter.  Work must have been in short supply, so my Grandparents moved to Manchester seeking employment.  Dudley was born there in 1907 and my Grandparents moved back to Nottingham three months later.  They obviously hadn't made their fortune!
Dudley was a gifted artist from an early age.  After leaving school he worked for Boots the Chemist in the arts department and attended Nottingham School of Art.  He later moved to Glasgow School of Art and spent the rest of his life working for D C Thomson in Dundee.  In many articles about Dudley it states that his family moved to Scotland but this was not so.  My Grandparents, my father Alec and his sister my Aunt Dorothy stayed in Nottingham.  My father was born in 1916 so was only a school boy when Dudley left home.

Dudley was the creator and first artist to draw Desperate Dan in the Dandy comic, Lord Snooty in the Beano comic and several other comic characters. He also drew The Broons, a Scottish family story and Oor Wullie, a wee boy in dungarees who started and ended his days sitting on a bucket!  The Broons and Oor Wullie can still be found in the centrefold pages of the Scottish Sunday Post today.  Dudley was also a very fine landscape artist.  He illustrated four books.  Kidnapped, Oliver Twist, Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island.  I have these books, three of which are inscribed to my parents.  I shall keep them for a rainy day!  Dudley's work is very much sort after, but very rarely comes on the market.


When I was a young girl, Dudley and his family would come to Nottingham on holiday once or at the most twice a year to stay with my Grandmother.  I can vividly remember sitting on Dudley's knee in my Grandmother's front room watching him ink in the cartoon characters and write the speech bubbles.  Such was his work load that he always brought work with him on holiday.  In the afternoons we would go out into the countryside and Dudley and my Aunt who was also an artist would set up their easels and sketch.  I would run between the two of them to see which drawing I preferred.  I always liked Dudley's the best and I would whisper in his ear and tell him so!  Dorothy was a fine artist too and I have some of her work, although she emigrated to Salt Lake City to be with her American relatives, the Dexter family who also had artists in the family.  Some of my Aunt's paintings are still over the water!

In my Grandmother's front room was a lovely little bureau.  I am sitting at it now working at my laptop.  I wonder what my Grandparents would make of a laptop?!  At least the bureau is still being used for the purpose it was built.

My Uncle didn't have a daughter and so made a great fuss of me which I lapped up!  He was a lovely, lovely man.

Source: Nottingham post
Angela Keyworth, Nottingham


NB. If you are interested in Dudley D Watkins be sure to read the comments section. Angela has added a lot more information in her replies.

43 comments:

  1. Hi Barbara and Angela, (Scuse me while I just finish me cow pie)

    Yes! Nice story. To think I was a fan of Desperate Dan......

    Thanks

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  2. barbaraannefisher2 November 2012 at 10:21

    Scuse me but didn’t Desperate Dan eat Cow Pat Pie rather than cow pie? Angela may correct me on that!
    I’m glad you enjoyed it John. I did too.

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  3. What great post, really enjoyed reading it.

    Hubby collects the Broons and Oor Wullie books, I'll get him to read this.

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  4. Wow - I grew up with Dandy and Beano - Desperate Dan was one of the characters that really stood out. Imagine being related to the artist!

    Great post.

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  5. The Desert Rocks2 November 2012 at 17:25

    Angela shares some beautiful memories and art. Wonderful post. The book she's holding was my husband's favorite as a child. Must have inspired him to travel the world to find me!

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  6. Thanks for following my blog Walking on Bookshelves. I'm following you under the jwhitus. You have an adorable blog!

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  7. barbaraannefisher2 November 2012 at 19:11

    Thanks Michelle, I hope your husband enjoys it.

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  8. barbaraannefisher2 November 2012 at 19:20

    Hi Sharon, wouldn't that be great? It was lovely of Angela to share her memories.

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  9. barbaraannefisher2 November 2012 at 19:22

    Hello Eve, It must have been written in the stars! Thanks for calling in.

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  10. barbaraannefisher2 November 2012 at 19:24

    Thank you! Walking on Bookshelves is a great name, and your blog is adorable too!

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  11. Angela shares some lovely memories. Great post, I enjoyed reading :)

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  12. barbaraannefisher3 November 2012 at 08:31

    Hello Hilde, she certainly does, glad you enjoyed it. Barbara.

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  13. It was definitely cow pie! Angie

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  14. barbaraannefisher3 November 2012 at 13:36

    Hi Angie, thanks for clearing that up! Thanks also for allowing me to use this great post.

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  15. What an interesting post and what wonderful memories to have :)

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  16. Hi Michelle

    I have a very old Broons book inscribed to Philip (my brother) and Angela with love from Uncle Dudley. The corner of the front cover is torn off but still I treasure this book. Dudley always drew a Christmas piece of holly on the same page and he always wrote in capital letters. Maybe he had had so much practice writing the speech bubbles!

    Angie

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  17. Thanks Nikki. When I was at Primary in the 1950's nobody believed I was related to Desperate Dan. Somebody had to be!! Of course most kids of my generation read comics, quite a lot under the beclothes with a torch. I never minded being off school sick , it was a good excuse to plough through the comics. At Christmas time my Aunt and Uncle would send a parcel from Dundee. It was always packed with drawing paper and crayons along with a 'proper' present, and always with the Broons or Oor Wullie Annual whichever was printed that year. Also enclosed was Edinburgh Rock, which is very sickly, I can still remember the taste and still don't like it!

    Angie

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  18. This is such an interesting post! I think the memories you have with this fascinating comic creator. How exciting! I loved hearing your memories of those special times together.

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  19. I am so glad I found this blog. I am crazy about children books, and especially children's illustrations. I worked as an illustrator for some time, but never felt good enough!! this was a very good story, I wish I could have met some famous illustrator, or better, be the niece !

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  20. I love this story very much. I have a good friend from Nottingham who has lived in Canada for over 30 years, I know she will enjioy it as well. Thanks so much for sharing this with us Babara.

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  21. \hi Bobbi

    My Aunt Dorothy E Watkins, Dudley's sister was also an artist. She painted some postcards in 1949 as far as I can see. They are fairy based pics. I have three of them. And So To Bed, Invitation to Fairyland and Day Dream. I think there may be more in the series and have my 'scouts' on the lookout for more.. You may find one either on ebay or Watkins Cards. However, unlike Dudley, Dorothy didn't make any wealth with her art work although when she was in Nottingham she had an exhibition at Nottingham Castle when she belonged to the Society of Artists. Should you ever come across any of Dorothy's work, please let me know!

    Angie

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  22. Hi Darlene

    Glad you enjoyed the story. Depending on what your friend can remember, Debenhams store in Nottingham had a cafe called the Four Seasons. My Aunt Dorothy painted four large pictues for each season and they hung in the cafe. The pictures were in Debenhams when I was a teenager, some 45+ years ago!!! They were there for many years, Dorothy worked for a few years in the art department in Debenhams. I believe the pictures were figures dressed in appropiate clothing, autumn leaves etc. A bit fairy like! I wonder what happened to them. No doubt in some dusty attic in Debenhams, which was in those days called Griffin and Spalding..

    Angie

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  23. barbaraannefisher4 November 2012 at 12:47

    Hi Bobbi, thanks so much for visiting & following. I've just been over to your blog it's the kind of place I like visiting so I've followed right back. Barbara.

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  24. barbaraannefisher4 November 2012 at 12:50

    Thanks Stephanie, I'm glad you enjoyed Angie's memories - I did too. Barbara.

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  25. My favourite comics when I was young. I loved Desperate Dan.

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  26. Thank you Angela and Barbara for this lovely story.

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  27. barbaraannefisher6 November 2012 at 07:54

    Hi Lindsay, Thank you for calling in and leaving a comment.

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  28. barbaraannefisher6 November 2012 at 07:55

    Hi Roger, Me too. I used to read all my brother's comics. Thanks for commenting, Barbara.

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  29. Barbara, this is one of your best posts! It made Dudley D Watkins life so personal to me.

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  30. barbaraannefisher11 November 2012 at 09:31

    Hi Donna, I agree Angela did a great job. It's been a really popular post, thanks again Angela.

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  31. Hi Donna Glad you enjoyed the post. I wrote a similar article for the Nottingham Post which you can see on This is Nottingham 3rd September. I wrote it for the letter's page but it made page 3!! At my age! In the newspaper article I included photos of me with Dudley etc, but it only shows the one which Barbara has here on the This is Nottingham version.

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  32. Hi Lindsay I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  33. I remember Dudley's house on the corner of Reres Road and Bughties Road in Barnhill, Broughty Ferry. Bughties Road took its name from Bughties House, the stately home set in parkland on the other side of the road, and originally built for DC Thompson himself. The road was set high on the hillside and all the houses commanded breathtaking views of the Tay Valley. Dudley worked from home and his studio had a huge picture window overlooking Strathtay. Couriers ferried his work to and from the Beano office in Dundee.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Jorj, thank you for leaving such a fascinating comment. I’ve passed it on to the author of the post as I’m sure she will be interested. Barbara.

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    2. Hi Jorj

      My Father told me Dudley designed the house himself and there were indeed lovely views from the studio window. Interesting about Bughties House. I enjoy local/social history even though it's not my locality!

      Angie

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  34. Hi Jorj

    Dudley's home was indeed very attractive and there were lovely views from his studio. I find the info on Bughties Road interesting, I am a bit of a local history 'junky'.

    Angie

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  35. Hi Jorj On 4th November I attended the dedication of a commemorative plaque for Dudley given by Historic Scotland, at Reres Road. This is the first plaque given by the Scottish Government, and to an Englishman! I also went to the see the archives at DC Thomson on the Kingsway and was shown original work of Dudley's. A very special moment even if he is my Uncle.

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  36. Its a great memory. I didn't know who Dudley was though I enjoyed many of his works in the 60's. I received Robinson Crusoe and Treasure island as a 5 year old and used to copy the illustrations. In no artist at all but can still amaze my kids with pictures of tall ships in full sail all from Dudley's originals, though I can draw nothing else. I treasured those books but sadly they disappeared from my mothers loft some years ago. Happily I obtained a replacement Robinson Crusoe recently and it was like seeing my childhood again. I'll find a treasure island soon.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Paulo7, good luck with your search, I do hope you manage to find a copy. Barbara.

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    2. Angie Keyworth4 June 2014 at 22:00

      Hi Paulo7
      I can remember colouring in the pictures in the Broons and Oor Wullie annuals. I wouldn't do that today they may be worth something! I have two copies of Treasure Island, on my way to finding two whole sets, one for each of my sons.

      Angie

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  37. Hi Angie. I wanted to find out a bit more about Dudley after coming across a lot of his work on a facebook group page called "Peter Gray's Comic Page". I'm aged 50 so all of his work actually predates me but he is practically a household name in my head anyway and I always love his version of Desperate Dan through reprints and commemorative issues.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Ian, many thanks for leaving a comment I’ve passed it on to Angie. Barbara

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    2. Hi Ian. I can't find Peter Gray's .Comic Page. Is it still on Facebook? Angie

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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