James Francis "Frank" Horrabin was born in Peterborough on 1 November 1884. He studied at Sheffield School of Art, where he met his first wife, Winifred Batho.
In 1906 he became a staff artist on the Sheffield Telegraph, and in 1909 became art editor on the Yorkshire Telegraph and Star. In 1911 he moved to London where worked for the Daily News (later known as the News Chronicle, where he created The Adventures of the Noah Family, later known as Japhet and Happy, which lasted in various forms until 1952. For the London Star in 1922 he created Dot and Carrie, a strip about two office girls, initially assisted by his brother in law H. O. Batho, which lasted until Horrabin's death, transferring to the Evening News in 1960.
A lifelong socialist, he drew political cartoons and caricatures for The Plebs, the journal of the Plebs League, a workers' education organisation, and was its editor from 1914 to 1932. He and Winifred were part of a group of London left-wing activists including H. G. Wells, and in 1920 Horrabin illustrated Wells' The Outline of History. He had a long-standing affair with Labour MP Ellen Cicely Wilkinson, and was himself Labour MP for Peterborough from 1929 to 1931. Other left-wing groups he was involved with included the Socialist League and the Fabian Colonial Bureau, for which he also edited magazines. Other books he illustrated include Lancelot Hogben's Mathematics for the Million (1936) and Science for the Citizen (1938), and Jawaharlal Nehru's Glimpses of World History (1939 edition).
He and Winifred divorced in 1947, and he married Margaret McWilliams, a secretary with whom he had been having an affair since 1932. His health began to fail in the 1950s, and he gradually scaled back his political activism. He died of brochopneumonia at his home in Hendon on 2 March 1962.
- Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, p. 81
- Margaret Cole, "Horrabin, James Francis (1884–1962)", rev. Amanda L. Capern, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 7 April 2013
- Denis Gifford, The History of the British Newspaper Comic Strip, Shire Publications, 1971, p. 4