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Billy Bunter from Knock-Out, 1939

Charles Henry Chapman was born on 1 April 1879 in Thetford, Norfolk, and grew up there and in Reading, Berkshire. He was keen on drawing as a child, at while at Kendrick Boys' School in Reading he edited and illustrated a school magazine, The Kendrick Comet. After leaving school he attended Reading College of Art, before being apprenticed to an architect in Basingstoke and training as an architectural draughtsman. Completing his apprenticeship at the age of 20, he left architecture behind and became an illustrator. His first published drawings appeared in the story paper The Captain in 1900. He drew Ally Sloper in 1908, and worked for various comic and story papers, including Judy, The Magnet, Chums, Forget-me-not, Boys' Friend, Boys' Herald, The Big Budget, Scraps, Comic Cuts, The Jester, Illustrated Chips and Punch, as well as numerous newspapers and magazines.

He took over as chief artist of The Magnet and The Gem after the death of Arthur Clarke in 1911, which became a full-time job for the next 29 years. He went on to illustrate Billy Bunter for those papers, becoming the character's definitive artist. When Bunter made his comic strip debut in The Knock-Out in 1939, Chapman drew his first nine adventures, before being replaced by Frank Minnitt. After the Second World War, Chapman illustrated Billy Bunter novels and annuals until 1966, when he retired at the age of 88. He died in Henley, Oxfordshire, in 1972.


  • Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, pp. 37-38

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