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D. H. Souter D. H. Souter i(A35952 works by) (a.k.a. David Henry Souter)
Also writes as: D. H. S.
Born: Established: 30 Mar 1862 Aberdeen,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 22 Sep 1935 Bondi, Bondi area, Sydney Eastern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: ca. 1887
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At the age of twelve, and with a preference for 'drawing and reading' over 'anything like hard work', D. H. Souter apprenticed himself to a housepainter and signwriter. It was also at this time that he attended the South Kensington Art School (Aberdeen Branch). Travelling to Natal, South Africa, in 1881, he later moved to Port Elizabeth where he continued signwriting and then took up a position in 'illustrated journalism'.

Following his marriage in 1886, Souter and his wife journeyed to Australia, spending six months in Melbourne before relocating to Sydney in 1887. Eventually joining the Bulletin staff as an illustrator, Souter established a long-term association with this iconic publication. In the course of his career, he achieved the distinction of having 'at least one cartoon published in every edition' of the Bulletin for a forty-year period, beginning in 1895.

Souter's 'graceful penwork showed the early influence' of the 'sinuous and flowing' style of Art Nouveau. 'The drawings were strong on the printed page with large black solid areas complementing fine, firm pen lines.' These bold compositions were strengthened by 'the inclusion of the familiar Souter cat' which frequently accompanied his depiction of chic and fashionable women. A number of his cat studies appear in Bush-Babs (1933), a selected work of poems that was originally written by Souter to entertain his children. The Souter cat was also 'featured on Royal Doulton chinaware' that was first produced in 1906. [Note: For a concise overview of cartoons that feature the trademark Souter feline, Robert Holden has compiled and introduced the selected work Souter's Cats (1988).]

Noted as an early poster artist and bookplate designer, Souter illustrated several children's books, including five titles by Ethel Turner. While best known for his work as a black-and-white illustrator, he also wrote plays and composed libretti for operettas such as The Grey Kimona (1902). His experience in the field of publishing included twelve years with the John Sands company and then a subsequent period spent as manager of the art department for William Brooks. His activities while with William Brooks incorporated the role of art editor for 'The New Australian School Series' of readers, produced by that publisher during the early 1900s. From 1904 to 1911, Souter was co-editor of the prestigious Art and Architecture journal and he later held the position of literary editor of Country Life and Stock and Station Journal from 1928.

Sources: A. G. Stephens (ed.) 'Australian Autobiographies' (vol.2); Vane Lindesay, 'Souter, David Henry (1862-1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, Melbourne University Press (1990).

Most Referenced Works


  • The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (1994) notes that D. H. Souter has sometimes been mistakenly believed to be related to the poet C. H. Souter.

  • State Library of Victoria holds the following manuscript: 'His Book, Being a Scrapbook of Souter's Cartoons' [ca.1880-ca.1935]. Comprised of material 'mainly from the Bulletin and including four cartoons in Souter's style with annotations by Souter; three portrait photographs, one of which is autographed; a self-portrait, an autograph; and an original design on the front cover'. (Source: LibrariesAustralia)

Known archival holdings

National Library of Australia (ACT)
Last amended 14 Aug 2012 11:44:08
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