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Spy with an eye for Victorian Britain

Features | By Eleanor Doughty

W G Grace, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling (top), Anthony Trollope.

As Prince Charles reveals his love of Vanity Fair cartoons, fellow collector Eleanor Doughty tells their story

You’ll have seen them in country houses, pubs and officers’ messes: Vanity Fair caricatures. Commonly known as Spy cartoons – after the nom de crayon of the magazine’s most famous artist, Leslie Ward – they have a habit of turning up in smart people’s downstairs loos, too. Now the Prince of Wales has revealed he too likes to visit Vanity Fair. As he opened London’s new Nightingale Hospital by video link from Birkhall, where he was self-isolating, a pair of Spy cartoons could be spotted, obscured by a lamp. One of them was the 1898 depiction of David Longfield Beatty, a captain in the 4th Hussars, described by the magazine as ‘born to sport’. ...

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