Artist who created the anarchic girls' school and drew the ever-popular illustrations for the Molesworth books
The artist died on 30 December in a hospital near his home in southern France. "[He] passed away peacefully in his sleep, with his children and grandson by his side," Searle's daughter Kate Searle told Reuters.
Best known for his spiky comic drawings depicting the outrageous antics of the St Trinian's girls, and for his illustrations of the Molesworth series, written by Geoffrey Willans and which, as any fule kno, tells of life at the boys' prep school St Custard's.
Searle "created an alternative to the conformity of Harold Macmillan's Britain", said his publisher Simon Winder. "He gave Britain in the 1950s particularly a sense of anarchy. He was extraordinarily sceptical about all forms of authority [and] there's something just astonishingly anarchic about Molesworth and St Trinian's," said Winder. "That's why they have appealed to so many generations."
Searle began drawing at the age of five. Leaving school at 15, his talent was quickly spotted by the Cambridge Daily News where he worked as a cartoonist, also working for an earlier incarnation of Granta magazine and studying as an art scholar until the war intervened and he enlisted in the Royal Engineers. In 1942 he was captured by the Japanese in Singapore, spending the war as a prisoner at Changi and working on the infamous Burma railway. He recorded his time as a prisoner of war in drawings, preserving them at great risk. His first St Trinian's cartoon was also drawn in Changi.
Full piece here.
And obituary in The Guardian.