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Billy Bunter

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1935 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Chapman, Charles Henry, born 1879 - died 1972 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

William George Bunter, or Billy Bunter, is a popular fictional character created by Frank Richards (the pen name of Charles Harold St John Hamilton) in stories set at Greyfriars School in the boys' weekly magazine, The Magnet, launched by The Amalgamated Press in 1908. Frank Richards was the magazine's principal writer; Billy Bunter made his debut in the first issue, 'The Making of Harry Wharton', on Saturday 15 February 1908. Bunter, the 'Fat Owl of the Remove', was not the protagonist of The Magnet stories; other characters included Harry Wharton, Bob Cherry, Frank Nugent, Johnny Bull and Hurree Jamset Ram Singh (known as 'Inky').

The Magnet stories were illustrated by Charles Henry Chapman. Born in Thetford, Norfolk, in 1879, Chapman was apprenticed to an architect but from 1900 he began contributing illustrations to magazines such as The Captain, Marvel, Pluck, Boy's Friend, Boy's Herald, Boy's Leader, Chips, Comic Cuts, Jester and Big Budget. His collaboration with The Magnet lasted more than thirty years until the magazine ceased publication in 1940. Frank Richards continued to write Billy Bunter stories. From 1939 the character appeared in a more popular magazine, Knockout; Chapman illustrated the first nine issues. Chapman also contributed illustrations of Billy Bunter to The Comet (also of The Amalgamated Press) which published Billy Bunter stories from 4 March 1950 to 21 June 1958.

Chapman continued illustrating Billy Bunter books until the 1950s. The BBC television series (1952?-1961), scripted by Frank Richards and starring Gerald Campion as Billy Bunter, proved so popular that it was broadcast at 17.40 for children and again at 20.00 for parents.

Physical description

Pen and ink drawing on paper of the fictional character, Billy Bunter, talking to two school boys. In the background is a partial view of an arched doorway and a window. Text below reads: 'You don't happen to have an apple or an orange, Bob?'

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca.1935 (made)


Chapman, Charles Henry, born 1879 - died 1972 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'From the Library of Anne Renier and F.G. Renier'
Bookplate on verso

Initialled in pencil by Anne Renier on verso

Pencil rules around pen and ink drawing

Pin holes in corners of drawing

Acquisition note in pencil by Anne Renier on verso

'ill 9' [in circle] / BILLY'S MISFORTUNE / BY FRANK RICHARDS / [rule] 4 ½ [rule] / C.H. Chapman / Tel. 72874 / Reader [indecipherable]'
Pencil annotations on verso


Height: 199 mm Whole, Width: 260 mm Whole

Object history note

Drawn by Charles Henry Chapman, ca.1935. Bequeathed to the V&A in 1970 by Anne and Fernand G. Renier as part of the Renier Collection.

Descriptive line

Pen and ink drawing by Charles Henry Chapman of Billy Bunter, ca.1935.


Paper (fiber product); Pen and ink



Subjects depicted

Uniforms; School stories; Students; Boys; Education; Schools


Drawings; Illustration; National Art Library

Production Type



National Art Library

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