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Poster - Don't forget that walls have ears!
  • Don't forget that walls have ears!
    Fougasse, born 1887 - died 1965
  • Enlarge image

Don't forget that walls have ears!

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (published)

  • Date:

    1940 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fougasse, born 1887 - died 1965 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Ministry of Information

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2H, shelf DR36, box DISPLAY PREPARATION

Fougasse was art editor of the magazine Punch when World War Two broke out in 1939, and he offered his services free to the British Government. He produced propaganda material for almost every ministry, and his gossiping cartoon characters injected welcome humour into propaganda posters in February 1940. Their popularity set a new tone for official mass communication. Despite an extended and illustrious career as a cartoonist, illustrator and commercial poster designer, it is probably for his 'Careless Talk Costs Lives' posters, issued by the Ministry of Information for display in public transport, that he is best known. In this one the Adolf Hitler (the hated German Nazi leader) wallpaper motif provides a visually amusing graphic device for concealing the enemy, as well as enriching the joke.

Physical description

'Don’t forget that walls have ears'; Portrait format poster printed in colours on a white ground, the image quite small in overall picture plane. Captioned in script below the illustration and then in larger letters at bottom of sheet 'Careless Talk Costs Lives'. The whole with a red border. Showing two women seated at a table having tea. The wallpaper behind them appears like a semi-abstract linear pattern of trees and curves but is in fact a repeat pattern of a caricature head of Hitler; Colour photo-lithograph on paper.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (published)


1940 (published)


Fougasse, born 1887 - died 1965 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph on paper

Marks and inscriptions

top left corner; lithography


Height: 30.5 cm sheet, Width: 20.3 cm sheet

Descriptive line

'Don't forget that walls have ears!'; Design by 'Fougasse' (Cyril Kenneth Bird); One of the series of 'Careless Talk Costs Lives' posters issued by the Ministry of Information during the Second World War; Great Britain; 1940.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Summary Catalogue of British Posters to 1988 in the Victoria & Albert Museum in the Department of Design, Prints & Drawing. Emmett Publishing, 1990. 129 p. ISBN: 1 869934 12 1

Production Note

one of a set of eight images on the theme 'Careless Talk Costs Lives'.

Reason For Production: Commission


Printing ink; Paper


Colour lithography

Subjects depicted

Propaganda; Politics; Wallpaper; War


Politics; Propaganda; Caricatures & Cartoons; Prints; Posters

Production Type

Mass produced


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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