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Charles Henry Ross was born in London in 1835. His father, Charles Ross, was a parliamentary reporter for The Times; his uncle, Sir William Ross, was an artist who painted portraits of Queen Victoria and other members of the royal family. The family was originally from Scotland, and several of his antecedents were artists. The cartoonist Isaac Cruikshank was a friend of the family.

Ross followed in his father's footsteps as a parliamentary reporter, before taking a job as a clerk for the Accountant General of the Navy in Somerset House in 1860. In his spare time he wrote and drew for the popular penny press, including the early penny dreadful Charley Wag, using pseudonyms including George Savage and Edward Ellis.

In 1967 the comic journal Judy began publishing, and Ross contributed a column, "The Only Jones", and comic strips, the most famous and enduring of which was Ally Sloper, almost certainly the first British continuing comic strip character. He made only five appearances in late 1867, but returned on a weekly basis in 1869. On these strips Ross was assisted by Emilie de Tessier (under the pseudonym Marie Duval), who would become his second wife.

In 1869 the Admiralty made staff reductions, and Ross was able to retire on a pension. He was appointed editor of Judy, and in 1970 had handed the drawing of Ally Sloper entirely over to de Tessier. She drew the strip until 1879, presumably from Ross's scripts. Judy was taken over by Gilbert Dalziel in 1872, and in 1883 Ross sold his rights to Ally Sloper to Dalziel. He was not involved in the publication of Ally Sloper's Half Holiday, launched in 1884, but continued to write his regular column, "The Only Jones", for Judy until 1887. After that he left the paper and launched his own, C. H. Ross's Variety Paper, which lasted 34 weekly issues.

Ross wrote numerous novels, including The Pretty Widow (1868), A London Romance (1869), A Private Enquiry (1870), and Lovely Angelina (1874). He also worked in the theatre, writing the successful comedy Clam in 1870, in which de Tessier appeared, again under the name Marie Duval, in a supporting role, as well as an operetta, The Prisoners at the Bar, 1878, and various other plays. He managed the Surrey Theatre and the Princess Theatre After de Tessier's death in 1890 he collaborated with Frank Wyatt on a "Hugoesque" horror novel, The Earth Girl, a Weird Legend (1893). He died on 12 October 1897 after a long illness.


  • John Adcock, Charles Henry Ross (1835-1897), Yesterday's Papers, 11 September 2010
  • Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, p. 149
  • Denis Gifford, "Ally Sloper group (act. 1867–1923)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 16 June 2013

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