Thomas Arthur Browne was born in Nottingham on 8 December 1870. He started out as an errand boy for a milliner at the age of eleven, before being apprenticed to a lithographic printer at fourteen. From the age of seventeen he began selling cartoons to London comic papers, including Scraps and Comic Cuts, on a freelance basis, initially using the pseudonym "Vandyke Browne". He soon became successful enough to move to London and draw full time, drawing six full-page strips a week, and contributing cartoons to magazines like Punch, and the Tatler. He was influenced by work of illustrator and cartoonist Phil May, who used a lively outline with little of the heavy shading and crosshatching popular among Victorian artists, and was the first to apply that style to comic strips.
In 1896 he created "Weary Willie and Tired Tim", a strip about a pair of tramps based on Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, for Illustrated Chips, which he drew until 1909, when it was taken over by Percy Cocking, who drew it until the title folded in 1953. His strip "Airy Alf and Bouncing Billy" first appeared in The Big Budget around 1900, and was later continued by Ralph Hodgson, aka "Yorick". He also drew the music hall comedian Dan Leno in Dan Leno's Comic Journal, and produced Tom Browne's Comic Annual from 1899 to 1905.
Outside of comics, he drew postcards and adverstising campaigns, worked for the Chicago Tribune for four months, and was a special artist for the ilustrated newspaper The Graphic, travelling to Egypt, China, Japan, Holland, Germany and Korea and drawing what he saw. He designed the logo for Johnnie Walker whiskey in 1909. He was a founder member of the London Sketch Club, a Royal Illustrator, a member of the Royal Society of Artists, the Royal Instutute of Painters in Watercolours and the Savage Club.
He died after surgery for cancer on 16 March 1910, at the age of 39. Having been a Lance Corporal in the City of London Roughriders and held a commission in the Woolwich Company of the Army Service Corps, he was buried at Shooter's Hill with full military honours.
- Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, p. 30-31
- Alan Clark, "Browne, Thomas Arthur (1870–1910)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 23 May 2014
- Tom Browne and his Circle, YourArchives
- Tom Browne (1870-1910): The Original Master of British Comic Art, British Golden Age Comics
- Lew Stringer, "A History of British Comics", The Comics Journal #122, June 1988, pp. 57-67
- Denis Gifford, Discovering Comics, Shire Publications, 1971, p. 8