was an English journalist, novelist and playwright who is best remembered for his collaborative works with the illustrator Ronald Searle
Ronald William Fordham Searle, CBE, RDI, is a British artist and cartoonist, best known as the creator of St Trinian's School. He is also the co-author of the Molesworth series....
He was born in Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...
, where he began his career as an actor. In 1935 Atkinson’s play Ferry Inn
was produced at the Liverpool Playhouse
The Liverpool Playhouse is a theatre in Williamson Square in the city of Liverpool, Merseyside, England. It originated in 1866 as a music hall, and in 1911 developed into a repertory theatre. As such it nurtured the early careers of many actors and actresses, some of which went on to achieve...
. Atkinson gained considerable experience as a repertory actor and began writing for Punch
Punch, or the London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration...
in 1948. In 1950 he ended his acting career to devote his time to writing.
In 1953 Atkinson’s play Four Winds
was produced in the west end. That same year saw the release of the film Wheel of Fate
, which Atkinson co-wrote with Guy Elmes.
In 1958 The Big City or the New Mayhew
was published. Written by Atkinson and illustrated by Ronald Searle, this collection of humorous character studies had appeared previously in Punch. These studies were based upon the journalism of Henry Mayhew
Henry Mayhew was an English social researcher, journalist, playwright and advocate of reform. He was one of the two founders of the satirical and humorous magazine Punch, and the magazine's joint-editor, with Mark Lemon, in its early days...
, particularly his famous survey London Labour and the London Poor
London Labour and the London Poor is a work of Victorian journalism by Henry Mayhew. In the 1840s he observed, documented and described the state of working people in London for a series of articles in a newspaper, the Morning Chronicle, that were later compiled into book form.-Overview:The...
which appeared in the Morning Chronicle
The Morning Chronicle was a newspaper founded in 1769 in London, England, and published under various owners until 1862. It was most notable for having been the first employer of Charles Dickens, and for publishing the articles by Henry Mayhew which were collected and published in book format in...
newspaper, throughout the 1840s.
In 1960 Atkinson moved to America to write for Holiday
magazine. He died in Philadelphia in 1962.
In his 1957 article Over Seventy P. G. Wodehouse
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE was an English humorist, whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems, song lyrics, and numerous pieces of journalism. He enjoyed enormous popular success during a career that lasted more than seventy years and his many writings continue to be...
, lamenting the decline of the humorist, wrote:
“I want to see an A. P. Herbert
Sir Alan Patrick Herbert, CH was an English humorist, novelist, playwright and law reform activist...
on every street corner, an Alex Atkinson in every
- All Next Week (1952)
- Cry for Shadows (1953)
- Exit Charlie (1955)
- The Big City or the New Mayhew (1958)
- USA for Beginners: By Rocking Chair across America (1959)
- Russia for Beginners: By Rocking Chair across Russia (1960)