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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (drawn)

  • Date:

    1926 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lee, Joseph, born 1901 - died 1974 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil, charcoal and brush and ink

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the British Theatre Museum Association

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This illustration was originally published in the magazine The Bystander, 11th August 1926, when the play Down Hill transferred to London's Prince's Theatre from the Queen's Theatre where it had opened the previous June. It depicts the revue star Julia Blue, played by Phyllis Monkman, with her dresser Minnie played by Jessie Bateman, in Act II, scene 1, set in the dressing room of the fictional Casino Theatre where the actress is plagued by lovestuck suitors. The play concerns the fate of Roddy Berwick, an English schoolboy played by Ivor Novello, who is expelled from school and falls in love with Julia Blue, who reciprocates his feelings only when he wins forty thousand pounds on a horse race. The play was directed by the actress Constance Collier who wrote the play with Ivor Novello under the pseudonym David L'Estrange.

The Yorkshire-born cartoonist Joe Lee learned his skill via Percy Bradshaw’s Press Art School correspondence course. When unable to finance his training as an architect at the Royal College of Art, he turned to illustration. After producing his first cartoon for The Bystander in 1920 he quickly developed as a freelance artist, and by 1921 was described by The Strand Magazine as ‘the youngest of the men of his craft who have now an established reputation’. Lee contributed to a variety of periodicals, and between 1934 and 1966 worked for The Evening News where he created the hugely popular ‘London Laughs’ series, which has been credited as the first non-political topical cartoons in the UK. After almost 9000 cartoons – the longest running daily cartoonist in history – he retired to Norwich in July 1966 but continued to produce political cartoons three days a week for the local Eastern Daily Press and work for comics. In 1963 he was presented with an award for Special Services to Cartooning by the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain.

Physical description

Line drawing in black ink over pencil on George Rowney 'Fashion Plate' drawing board, showing the actress Hannah Jones as Minnie the dresser, on the right of the image, wearing an ankle-length black skirt and black apron. She is bending down slightly, facing to her right as she laces Phyllis Monkman, playing the revue star Julia Blue, into her knee-length dress. Julia Blue stands in front of her, her back turned, with her head inclined to her left as she talks to her dresser. A couch or day-bed is behind them, and the image is captioned with the names and roles of the characters, and the publication for which the cartoon was intended.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (drawn)


1926 (drawn)


Lee, Joseph, born 1901 - died 1974 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil, charcoal and brush and ink

Marks and inscriptions

In black ink, lower left

In black ink, lower right

In black ink, bottom right


Height: 54.1 cm, Width: 36.7 cm

Object history note

Theatrical illustration originally published in The Bystander, 11th August 1926. The illustration depicts an incident in the dressing room of the Casino Theatre, Act 11 scene 2 in the play Down Under by David L'Estrange (Ivor Novello and Constance Collier), originally produced at the Queen's Theatre 16th June 1926, transferred to the Prince's Theatre. The play starred Glen Byam Shaw and Ivor Novello and was directed by Constance Collier.

Descriptive line

Phyllis Monkman and Hannah Jones as the revue star Julia Blue and the dresser Minnie Berwick in Down Hill by David L'Estrange, Queen's Theatre, 16 June 1926. Pencil, charcoal, brush and ink, possibly by Joseph Lee (1901-1974). Originally published in The Bystander 11 August 1926.


Pencil; Charcoal; Ink; Drawing board

Subjects depicted

Dressing room; Actress; Dresser




Theatre and Performance Collection

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