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Careless Talk Costs Lives

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (made)

  • Date:

    1940 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fougasse, born 1887 - died 1965 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of the American Friends of the V&A; Gift to the American Friends by Leslie, Judith and Gabri Schreyer and Alice Schreyer Batko

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case 1B, box LS3

Fougasse, whose real name was Cyril Kenneth Bird, was a well-known cartoonist and editor of the magazine Punch when war broke out. He convinced the Government to use humour for wartime propaganda and offered his services free. He believed the sharing of a joke enabled a poster to persuade without causing resentment by appearing to preach. Fougasse designed a series of eight posters for the Careless Talk Cost Lives campaign. They were produced in a variety of formats both for indoor and outdoor display, and proved so popular that they were even reproduced on textiles.

Physical description

Illustration of two ladies seen in profile having tea in a room with Hitler-printed wallpaper.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (made)


1940 (made)


Fougasse, born 1887 - died 1965 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

'Don't forget that / walls / have ears!'

Printed on two lines across the lower margin

In upper left corner


Height: 32 cm, Width: 21 cm

Descriptive line

'Walls have ears!', Second World War cartoon poster warning against careless talk, designed by Fougasse, United Kingdom, 1940


Paper; Ink


Colour lithography

Subjects depicted

Security; Politics; Wallpaper; Secrecy; Women; Tea; Propaganda


Prints; Propaganda; Caricatures & Cartoons; Wall coverings; Posters


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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