- John Bull
- The name used to personify the English people and British imperialism. Although first used in the seventeenth century, it was John Arbuthnot, a Scottish writer and Queen Anne’s physician, who popularized it in his 1712 The History of John Bull, a political allegory advocating the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. John Bull was an honest, jolly, hot-tempered cloth merchant, embroiled in a lawsuit with his European neighbors.From the 1760s, John Bull began a long history in the visual media. The John Bull newspaper, a Tory organ, was established. By the mid-nineteenth century he was defined as a rotund, usually rural, shabby farmer or squire. John Tenniel’s drawings for Punch are the most recognizable version: a portly, ruddy-cheeked and sidewhiskered but dignified gentleman, with boots and a shabby hat, usually with a Union Jack waistcoat and a bulldog at heel.John Bull was in partisan terms neutral, as the Liberal Punch and the Tory Judy enlisted him with equal credibility. By 1900, John Bull had lost most of his everyman and apolitical character. In 1906, a journalist, swindler, and politician, Horatio Bottomley founded John Bull as a weekly journal. Bottomley’s John Bull dressed in a short top hat, riding gear, and crop, and savaged Herbert Asquith ’s Liberal government’s fiscal policies. Hereafter John Bull featured mostly on the Conservative side of politics.See also <
>.FURTHER READING:Engel, Matthew. Tickle the Public: One Hundred Years of the Popular Press . London: V. Gollancz, 1996;Koss, Stephen E. The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain . London: Hamish Hamilton, 1984.ANDREKOS VARNAVA
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.