The Biography of Captain Bruce Bairnsfather

In Search of the Better ‘Ole

Tonie Holt, Valamai Holt

Date Published :
December 2014
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781473827233
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
In stock


Bruce Bairnsfather created one of the best-known cartoon characters of the First World War - 'Old Bill' and he drew what many consider to be the most enduring cartoon of all time - the 'Better Ole'.

Reprinted due to popular demand this biography was the first to be published about the man and his work.

During the First World War the contribution of Bairnsfather's work to the morale of the Nation, through laughter, is without question. Indeed there were those who thought he was the 'man who won the war'. The authors trace his life in fascinating detail. This delightful book reveals details of the man who was a compelling paradox - a desperately shy person who adored the limelight, a loyal lovable personality, ridden with suspicion, an upper class product who was more comfortable in the company of the working class man.

Bairnsfather's work appears on plates, cups, jugs, mugs and pots, car mascots, ashtrays and the like - all collector’s pieces. His characters appear on postcards, playing cards, cigarette card, jigsaw puzzles and during the Second World War on the noses of the daylight bombers of the American Eighth Airforce.

The story is lavishly illustrated with over 150 photographs and drawings, and includes a useful section setting out the range and values of Bairnsfather memorabilia and collectables.

About The Author

Major and Mrs Holt founded the first organisation to offer battlefield tours to the general public in the late 1970s. Since the 1990s they have been writing their series of guide books, incorporating all that they have learned from their experiences conducting thousands of people around battlefields. This series, designed to serve as companions for travellers, whether sitting at home or physically visiting the battlefields, includes detailed travel directions, military history, fascinating anecdotes and tourist information. The Holts share the writing of their books equally and conduct all their own research, spending many weeks on the ground as they prepare each new book or update previously published titles.


"The Biography of Captain Bruce Bairnsfather has been a labour of love for Tonie and Valmai Holt... he couple's passion for Bairnsfather was sparked during the 1970s when they started collecting postcard reproductions of his 'Fragments from France' cartoons. Major and Mrs Holt's lavishly illustrated biography is certainly the definitive word on Bairnsfather."

- East Kent Mercury

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