Donald McGill

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Donald Fraser Gould McGill (28 January 187513 October 1962) was an English artist, known as the "King of the Saucy Postcard". His medium was the highly-coloured and risqué cartoon postcard, of the kind that was sold in 20th century British seaside resorts.


  • Can't see my little Willy.
    • Arthur Calder-Marshall Wish You Were Here: The Art of Donald McGill (1966) p. 44.
    • The drawing shows a small child on a beach, hidden under the bulging stomach of his father.
  • "Do you like Kipling?"
    "I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never kippled."
    • The Guinness Book of World Records 1988 p. 203. [1]
    • Holds the record as the world's most successful postcard, with a sale of about 6,000,000.
    • Several earlier versions of the gag exist dating to the 19th century, according to the Quote Investigator blog.[2]
  • For Heaven's sake, send help! There's a man trying to get into my room and the door's locked!
    • The Independent, September 8, 2006. [3].
  • I want to back the favourite, please. My sweetheart gave me a pound to do it both ways!
  • "'Isaiah' – what a funny name for a teddy bear!"
    "Well, you see one eye's 'igher than the other."
    • Exhibited as part of the Michael Winner collection of McGill designs at the Chris Beetles Gallery, March 14 to April 8, 2006. [5]

George Orwell "The Art of Donald McGill"[edit]

First published in Horizon magazine, and reprinted in Orwell's Critical Essays (1946)

  • Could you exchange this lucky charm for a baby's feeding-bottle?
  • "I like seeing experienced girls home."
    "But I'm not experienced!"
    "You're not home yet!"
  • "I've been struggling for years to get a fur coat. How did you get yours?"
    "I left off struggling."
  • Judge: "You are prevaricating, sir. Did you or did you not sleep with this woman?"
    Co-respondent: "Not a wink, my lord!"
  • She didn't ask me to the christening, so I'm not going to the wedding.


  • In the past the mood of the comic postcard could enter into the central stream of literature, and jokes barely different from McGill's could casually be uttered between the murders in Shakespeare's tragedies. That is no longer possible, and a whole category of humour, integral to our literature till 1800 or thereabouts, has dwindled down to these ill-drawn postcards, leading a barely legal existence in cheap stationers' windows. The corner of the human heart that they speak for might easily manifest itself in worse forms, and I for one should be sorry to see them vanish.
    • George Orwell "The Art of Donald McGill", in Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters (1984) Vol. 2, pp. 194-5.

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