Digitised@SLQ: Norman Lindsay recruiting pamphlets
By JOL Admin | 7 October 2016
Artist Norman Lindsay (1879-1969) may be best known for his children’s classic The Magic Pudding, published in 1918, but much of his output during the First World War was propaganda and recruitment posters commissioned by the Australian Government. Among many other creative pursuits, Lindsay worked as an editorial cartoonist, and maintained a long association with The Bulletin, a weekly newspaper, magazine and review. Many of the illustrations he provided to The Bulletin in the years of the war expressed the racist and right-wing political leanings of the magazine at that time.
State Library has recently digitised three Lindsay creations, all commissioned by the Australian Government to galvanise the Australian public and mobilise men to enlist.
? by Norman LindsayThe first is a poster depicting a German ogre or monster, lunging to clutch a globe of the world with hands and arms covered in blood. Dripping blood falls onto Europe, then pours into other countries, representing the spread of German terror and the implications if the 'beastly Hun' is not contained. Titled '?' , this poster was the first in a series of six drawn by Lindsay for the last nation-wide recruiting campaign in 1918. The other posters followed in quick succession: Be Quick, God Bless Daddy, Will you Fight?, The Last Call and Fall in. Each was distributed and pasted up all over Australia on a predetermined night.
In conjunction with the posters, a series of leaflets was issued by the Director-General of Recruiting. Each was a fold-out poster-pamphlet, designed for easy mailing to potential recruits, and featuring text and illustrations on each side. The failure of both conscription plebiscites meant that the A.I.F. was desperate for more recruits, and Lindsay's illustrations were designed to shock and terrify recipients, compelling them to enlist.
State Library has digitised two of these double-sided leaflets. The first is titled Hasten!, and features images of 'German atrocities' - the sinking of the civilian ship Lusitania, 'Cavel' - depicting a German soldier holding a gun over the body of Nurse Cavell, and 'A terrible record' - God holding a cowering Kaiser by the scruff of the neck.
The verso of Hasten! features an essay titled 'The Call of Humanity', which discusses German military human rights abuses, and a powerful image of a mother clutching her children to her body in an attempt to shield them from menacing figures approaching from the distance. Mother 'Humanity' appears vulnerable and unprotected, and the pamphlet is designed to appeal to male readers, and their sense of themselves as protectors of women and children.
The second pamphlet is titled Quick!, and its first side contains the same '?' image featured in the more colourful poster. A second image features a German helmet held ready to smother a globe in flames, and a third illustration depicts a large German soldier standing on the neck of a cowering woman.
A long essay titled 'Why we must win the war' fills the verso of the pamphlet, along with an illustration of a similarly large and menacing German soldier with snarling features, lunging with a bayonet over chained victims who represent Poland, Belgium and Russia, towards an Australian soldier in a trench.
Poster propaganda during the First World War tended to either vilify the enemy by depicting him as a monstrous butcher, or instil feelings of guilt for non-participation in the war effort, and Norman Lindsay's potent illustrations achieved both to considerable effect. Although not all the pamphlets were able to be distributed before the end of the war, those which were distributed, combined with the series of six posters, represented a well-targeted mass media campaign for the population at large.References
Norman Lindsay. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Lindsay
? . Australian War Memorial. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/ARTV00078/
? . Imperial War Museums. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/16786
Hasten! Australian War Memorial. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/ARTV00143/
Quick! Australian War Memorial. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/ARTV04072/
Robyn Hamilton - QANZAC100 Content Curator, State Library of Queensland
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