Charles Tunnicliffe

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe, OBE, RA (1 December 1901 – 7 February 1979)[1] was an internationally renowned naturalistic painter of British birds and other wildlife. He spent most of his working life on the Isle of Anglesey.

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe
Charles Tunnicliffe.jpeg
Born1 December 1901
Died7 February 1979 (aged 77)
AwardsFellow of the Royal Academy
RSPB Gold Medal


Tunnicliffe was born in 1901 in Langley, Macclesfield, England, the fourth surviving child of William Tunnicliffe (died 20 June 1925) of Lane Ends Farm, Sutton, near Macclesfield,[2] a tenant farmer, formerly a boot and shoemaker,[3] and Margaret (died 21 February 1942).[4][5] He spent his early years living on the farm at Sutton, where he saw much wildlife. As a young boy he attended Sutton St. James' C.E. Primary School, and in 1916 he began to study at the Macclesfield School of Art.[6] He went on to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London.[7]

He married in 1929 at the Methodist Church, Whalley Range, Manchester, to Winifred Wonnacott (24 June 1902 – 27 June 1969),[8][9] a fellow art student, from Hollywood, near Belfast.[6][10]

In 1947 he moved from Manchester to a house called "Shorelands" at Malltraeth, on the estuary of the Afon Cefni on Anglesey, where he lived until his death in 1979.


Tunnicliffe worked in several media, including watercolor painting, etching and aquatint, wood engraving, woodcut, scraperboard (sometimes called scratchboard), and oil painting.

Tunnicliffe - A Snowy Owl, Anglesey
A Snowy Owl, Anglesey, date unknown.

Much of Tunnicliffe's work depicted birds in their natural settings and other naturalistic scenes. He illustrated Henry Williamson's Tarka the Otter.[7] His work was also used to illustrate Brooke Bond tea cards and as a result was seen by millions of young people in the United Kingdom during the 1950s and 1960s. He also illustrated a number of books, including the Ladybird books. His work was characterised by its precision and accuracy, but also by the way in which he was able to portray birds as they were seen in nature rather than as stiff scientific studies.

From March 1953, he painted many of the cover illustrations for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds's (RSPB) magazine Bird Notes, and several for the later Birds magazines. Two of the originals are on long-term loan to the gallery at Oriel Ynys Môn, but in 1995 the RSPB sold 114 at a Sotheby's auction, raising £210,000; the most expensive being a picture of a partridge, which sold for £6,440.[11]

At his death, much of his personal collection of work was bequeathed to Anglesey council on the condition that it was housed together and made available for public viewing. This body of work can now be seen at Oriel Ynys Môn (The Anglesey Gallery) near Llangefni.

His work is still celebrated with the Charles and Winifred Tunnicliffe Memorial Art Competition, which is held annually at Hollinhey Primary School, Sutton, which itself is built on land which was formally part of the farm he lived on as a boy.[12]


Tunnicliffe was the subject of a 1981 BBC Wales television documentary, True to Nature, produced by Derek Trimby and narrated by Robert Dougall.[14][15]


At least 250 books used Tunnicliffe's illustrations, including:

  • 1932 – Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson. Putnam: London.
  • 1933 – The Lone Swallows, and other essays of boyhood and youth, by Henry Williamson. Putnam.
  • 1933 – The Old Stag and Other Hunting Stories, by Henry Williamson. Putnam.
  • 1933 – On Foot in Devon. Or, Guidance and Gossip being a Monologue in Two Reels, by Henry Williamson. Alexander Maclehose & Co: London.
  • 1933 – The Star-Born, by Henry Williamson. Faber: London.
  • 1934 – Beasts Royal, by Patrick Russ (Patrick O'Brian). Putnam.
  • 1934 – The Peregrine's Saga and Other Wild Tales, by Henry Williamson. Putnam.
  • 1934 – Tales from Ebony, by Harcourt Williams. Putnam.
  • 1936 – Pool and Rapid. The story of a river, by R.L. Haig-Brown. Cape: London.
  • 1936 – Salar the Salmon, by Henry Williamson. Faber.
  • 1937 – Ambush of Young Days, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1937 – A Book of Birds, by Mary Priestley. Gollancz: London.
  • 1937 – The Sky's Their Highway, by Kenneth Williamson. Putnam.
  • 1940 – The Seasons and the Gardener: A Book for Children, by H. E. Bates. CUP.
  • 1940 – Wonders of Nature: How Animals and Plants Live and Behave in Relation to Their Natural Surroundings, by C.F. Tunnicliffe. Odham's Press.
  • 1941 – Nature Abounding, by E. L. Grant Watson. Faber.
  • 1941 – Profitable Wonders: Some Problems of Plant & Animal Life, by E.L. Grant Watson. Country Life: London.
  • 1941 – The Seasons and the Fisherman: A Book for Children, by Frank Fraser Darling. CUP.
  • 1941 – The Seasons and the Woodman: A Book for Children, by Frank Fraser Darling. CUP.
  • 1941 – The Story of a Norfolk Farm, by Henry Williamson. Faber.
  • 1942 – In the Heart of the Country, by H.E. Bates. Country Life.
  • 1942 – My Country Book, by C.F. Tunnicliffe. The Studio: London.
  • 1942 – Going Fishing: The story of some rods and the places they take you to, by Negley Farson. Country Life.
  • 1943 – O More Than Happy Countryman, by H.E. Bates. Country Life.
  • 1943 – Walking with Fancy, by E.L. Grant Watson. Country Life.
  • 1944 – Exploring England: an introduction to nature craft, by Charles S. Bayne. Collins: London.
  • 1944 – The Seasons and the Farmer: A Book for Children, by Frank Fraser Darling. CUP.
  • 1945 – Bird Portraiture, by C.F. Tunnicliffe. (How to Do It series No.35). The Studio: London.
  • 1945 – Call of the Birds, by Charles S. Bayne. Collins. (First published 1929, revised 1945).
  • 1945 – Farmer Jim, by D. H. Chapman. George Harrap & Co.
  • 1945 – Green Tide, by Richard Church. Country Life.
  • 1945 – My Friend Flicka, by Mary O'Hara. Eyre & Spottiswoode.
  • 1946 – Country Things, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1946 – Happy Countryman, by C.H. Warren. Eyre & Spottiswoode.
  • 1946 – Wandering with Nomad. Thrilling Adventures Among the Wild Life of the Countryside, by Norman Ellison. University of London Press.
  • 1947 – Angling Conclusions, by W.F.R. Reynolds. Faber.
  • 1947 – How to Draw Farm Animals by C. F. Tunnicliffe. The Studio: London.
  • 1947 – The Leaves Return, by E.L. Grant Watson. Country Life.
  • 1947 – The Long Flight, by Terence Horsley. Country Life.
  • 1947 – Fishing and Flying, by Terence Horsley. Eyre & Spottiswoode.
  • 1947 – Our Bird Book, by Sidney Rogerson. Collins.
  • 1947 – Out of Doors with Nomad, by Norman Ellison. University of London Press.
  • 1948 – Carts and Candlesticks, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1948 – The Cinnamon Bird, by Ronald Lockley. Staples Press.
  • 1948 – Mereside Chronicle: with a short interlude of lochs and lochans, by C.F. Tunnicliffe. Country Life.
  • 1948 – Over the hills with Nomad: More Adventures in Search of Our Wild Life, by Norman Frederick Ellison. University of London Press.
  • 1949 – Both Sides of the Road. A Book about Farming, by Sidney Rogerson. Collins.
  • 1949 – Rivermouth, by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald. Eyre & Spottiswoode: London.
  • 1949 – Roving with Nomad, by Norman Ellison. University of London Press.
  • 1949 – Wild Life in a Southern County, by Richard Jefferies. Lutterworth Press.
  • 1950 – Adventuring with Nomad, by Norman Ellison. University of London Press.
  • 1950 – Island of Skomer, by John Buxton and Ronald Lockley. Staples Press.
  • 1951 – Punchbowl Midnight, by Monica Edwards. Collins.
  • 1951 – Northwards with Nomad, by Norman Ellison. University of London Press.
  • 1952 – Birds of the Estuary, by C.F. Tunnicliffe. Penguin Books.
  • 1952 – Plowmen's Clocks, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1952 – Shorelands Summer Diary, by C.F. Tunnicliffe. Macmillan.
  • 1952 – Under the Sea Wind – A Naturalist's Picture of Ocean Life, by Rachel Carson. Staples Press: London. (First UK edition).
  • 1953 – The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway, C.F. Tunnicliffe and Raymond Sheppard. Reprint Society. (First illustrated edition).
  • 1953 – Puffins, by Ronald Lockley. Dent: London.
  • 1956 – Here's a New Day, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1957 – Come Out of Doors, by C.D. Dimsdale. Hutchinson: London.
  • 1957 – A Year in the Country, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1959 – The Swans fly over, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1959 – What to look for in Winter, by E.L. Grant Watson. (Ladybird Nature Book series 536). Wills & Hepworth: Loughborough.
  • 1960 – The Horse in the Furrow, by George Ewart Evans. Faber & Faber.
  • 1960 – Something for Nothing: Twelve Essays, by Alison Uttley. Faber & Faber.
  • 1960 – What to look for in Autumn, by E.L. Grant Watson. (Ladybird Nature Book series 536). Wills & Hepworth: Loughborough.
  • 1960 – What to look for in Summer, by E.L. Grant Watson. (Ladybird Nature Book series 536). Wills & Hepworth: Loughborough.
  • 1961 – British Birds of the Wild Places, by J. Wentworth Day. Blandford: London.
  • 1961 – What to look for in Spring, by E.L. Grant Watson. (Ladybird Nature Book series 536). Wills & Hepworth: Loughborough.
  • 1962 – Wild Honey, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1963 – The Farm, by M.E. Gagg. Wills & Hepworth Ltd.
  • 1964 – Cuckoo in June, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1966 – Dawn, Dusk and Deer, by Arthur Cadman. Country Life.
  • 1966 – A Peck of Gold, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1967 – A Galloway Childhood, by Ian Niall. Heinemann.
  • 1968 – The Button-Box and Other Essays, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1968 – A Fowler's World: an account of days on the marsh and estuary, by Ian Niall. Heinemann.
  • 1968 – Know Your Broadleaves, by H.L. Edlin. (Forestry Commission Booklet No 20). HMSO: London.
  • 1969 – The Country Child, by Alison Uttley. Penguin Books: Middlesex.
  • 1969 – The Island, by Ronald Lockley. André Deutsch.
  • 1969 – The Valley, by Elizabeth Clarke. Faber.
  • 1972 – Secret Places and other Essays, by Alison Uttley. Faber.
  • 1978 – Up with the Country Lark, by Nellie Brocklehurst. Arthur H. Stockwell: Devon. ISBN 0-7223-1097-8
  • 1979 – RSPB Book of Garden Birds, by Linda Bennett. Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-31422-7
  • 1979 – A Sketchbook of Birds, by C.F. Tunnicliffe, with an introduction by Ian Niall. Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-02640-5
  • 1980 – Portrait of a Country Artist. Charles Tunnicliffe R.A. 1901 – 1979, by Ian Niall. Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-02868-8
  • 1981 – Sketches of Birdlife, with introduction and commentary by Robert Gillmor. Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-03036-4
  • 1984 – Country World, by Alison Uttley. Faber. ISBN 0-571-13328-2
  • 1984 – Tunnicliffe's Birds, by C.F. Tunnicliffe. Little Brown: Boston. (First US edition). ISBN 1-199-07825-5
  • 1986 – The Happy Countryman, by H.E. Bates. Salem House Publishers: USA. ISBN 0-948164-23-9
  • 1986 – The Peverel Papers. A Yearbook of the Countryside, by Flora Thompson; ed. J. Shuckburgh. Century: London. ISBN 0-7126-1296-3
  • 1986 – Tunnicliffe's Countryside, by C.F. Tunnicliffe. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-907745-02-4
  • 1992 – Shorelands Winter Diary, by C.F. Tunnicliffe. Constable and Robinson. ISBN 1-85487-139-0
  • 1993 – The Way of a Countryman, by Ian Niall. White Lion. ISBN 978-1-874762-04-1
  • 1996 – The Peregrine Sketchbook, by C.F. Tunnicliffe, Robert Gillmor, Derek Ratcliffe. Excellent Press. ISBN 978-1-900318-02-0

Further reading

  • Ian Niall, Portrait of a Country Artist C. F. Tunnicliffe R.A. (1980)

See also


  1. ^ Wildlife Art Archived 20 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Principal Probate Registry calendars 1925, T-Tu, p. 143
  3. ^ 1901 England Census – National Archives, RG13/3315, f. 29, p. 7
  4. ^ 1911 England Census – National Archives, RG14/21493, ED. 6, Schedule 22
  5. ^ Principal Probate Registry calendars 1942, T-Tu, p. 690
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. John Davies, Nigel Jenkins, Menna Baines and Peredur Lynch (2008) pg892 ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6
  8. ^ England & Wales, Death Index, 1916–2007
  9. ^ Principal Probate Registry calendars 1969, T-Tu, p. 267
  10. ^ England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916–2005
  11. ^ RSPB Birds magazine, Vol 16 No 01, February–April 1996, page 10
  12. ^ Charles and Winifred Tunnicliffe Memorial Art Competition at Hollinhey Primary School Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ The Charles Tunnicliffe Society: A Short Biography
  14. ^ Sketches of Birdlife, with introduction and commentary by Robert Gillmor. Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-03036-4
  15. ^ Bfi page on True to nature

External links

1901 in art

The year 1901 in art involved some significant events and new works.

1901 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1901 in the United Kingdom. This year marks the transition from the Victorian to the Edwardian era, with the death of the 81-year-old Queen and the ascension of her 59-year-old son to the throne.

1979 in Wales

This article is about the particular significance of the year 1979 to Wales and its people.

1979 in art

The year 1979 in art involved some significant events and new works.


Anglesey (; Welsh: Ynys Môn [ˈənɨs ˈmoːn]) is an island off the north coast of Wales with an area of 276 square miles (715 km2). Anglesey is by far the largest island in Wales and the seventh largest in the British Isles. Anglesey is also the largest island in the Irish Sea by area, and the second most populous island (after the Isle of Man). The ferry port of Holyhead (on the nearby Holy Island) handles more than 2 million passengers each year. The Menai Suspension Bridge, designed by Thomas Telford in 1826, and the Britannia Bridge span the Menai Strait to connect Anglesey with the mainland.

Anglesey, one of the historic counties of Wales, was administered as part of Gwynedd, but along with Holy Island and other smaller islands, it is now governed by the Isle of Anglesey County Council. Much of this article covers the whole of this administrative area. The majority of Anglesey's inhabitants are Welsh speakers and Ynys Môn, the Welsh name for the island, is used for the UK Parliament and National Assembly constituencies. The population at the 2011 census was 69,751. The island falls within the LL postcode area, covering LL58 to LL78.

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Ian Niall

Ian Niall (7 November 1916 – 24 June 2002), born John Kincaid McNeillie, was a writer from Galloway in Scotland. He wrote his works under both names. He was born in Old Kilpatrick, to parents from the Machars in South West Scotland. He moved back to Galloway at 18 months old, and the area formed a basis for his early fiction. In the 1940s he moved to North Wales, where his son, the writer Andrew McNeillie, was born. He died in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, in south-east England.

Kenneth Williamson

Kenneth Williamson (c. 1914 – 14 June 1977) was a British ornithologist who had a strong association with Scotland and with bird migration.

Williamson was born in Bury, Lancashire. He served with the British occupation of the Faroe Islands in World War II from 1941 to 1945. He was Director of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory (1948–1957). Subsequently he became a Senior Research Officer with the British Trust for Ornithology and he served as editor of the journal Bird Migration (1958–1963). He served on the British Birds Rarities Committee (1959–1963).

On 2 March 1959 Williamson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.He married Esther Louise Rein of Tórshavn in 1944, with whom he had a daughter and a son.

Langley, Cheshire

Langley is a semi-rural village in the county of Cheshire, England, on the River Bollin, near Macclesfield and Macclesfield Forest.

Langley Mill, founded by William Smith in 1826, became the biggest silk printing, dyeing and finishing works in the world.Langley Mill later went on to become Specialised Automobile Services, a specialist wire wheel manufacturer for classic and modern cars.

The painter Charles Tunnicliffe was born in Langley and painted many birds at the four reservoirs behind the village in Macclesfield Forest.

The village pub, "The St Dunstan", is located on Main Road (the main road through the village). Langley also has a Methodist church and a village hall.

Langley was mentioned in the first episode of the TV series Ashes to Ashes, in February 2008, when DI Alex Drake, played by Keeley Hawes mentions Langley, Virginia, most famous as home to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency. Her colleague, DC Chris Skelton, remarkes "isn't that near Macclesfield?". Skelton is played by Macclesfield-born actor Marshall Lancaster.

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Llangefni (Welsh pronunciation: [ɬanˈɡɛvni]) is the county town of Anglesey in Wales and contains the principal offices of the Isle of Anglesey County Council. United Kingdom Census 2011 recorded Llangefni's population as 5,116 people, making it the second largest settlement on the island.

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Norman Ellison

Norman F. Ellison (1893 – 1976) was an English radio presenter and author who made radio programmes about nature and the countryside for the BBC's Children's Hour, under the pseudonym Nomad the Naturalist, and wrote on the same subjects both as Nomad and in his own name.

Born in Liverpool in 1893, he signed up as a private in the 1/6th Battalion, King's Liverpool Regiment, at the outbreak of World War I, and served in the trenches in Belgium. He saw action on The Somme and at Flanders but was discharged in 1917 suffering from trench foot. His war diaries were published in 1997.

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Oriel Ynys Môn

Oriel Ynys Môn is a museum and arts centre located in Llangefni, Anglesey (Ynys Môn), Wales.

A two-part centre, the History Gallery provides an insight into the island's culture, history and environment. The Art Gallery has a changing programme of exhibitions, encompassing art, craft, drama, sculpture and social history. Until November 2012 Wales's most important Iron Age find, the Celtic objects from Llyn Cerrig Bach, have been loaned to the museum from the National Museum of Wales for display.It also houses a series of permanent displays, including:

the world's largest collection of the works of Welsh artist Sir Kyffin Williams, who was born in Llangefni. This is housed in a specialist collection named Oriel Kyffin Williams opened by Shirley Paget, Marchioness of Anglesey on 18 July 2008.

the works of wildlife artist Charles Tunnicliffe

Stuttgart Database of Scientific Illustrators 1450–1950

The Stuttgart Database of Scientific Illustrators 1450-1950 (abbreviated DSI) is an online repository of bibliographic data about people who illustrated published scientific works from the time of the invention of the printing press, around 1450, until 1950; the latter cut-off chosen with the intention of excluding currently-active illustrators. The database includes those who worked in a variety of fields, including astronomical, botanical, zoological and medical illustration.The database is hosted by the University of Stuttgart. Content is displayed in English, and is free to access. As of January 2019, the site's homepage states that the database includes over 12,460 illustrators. The site is searchable by 20 fields.Suggestions for additional entries, or amendments, may be submitted by members of the public, but are subject to editorial review before inclusion.

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The population of the entire civil parish is 2,464. In the past, the community was centred on farming, forestry and textiles; however, since these industries declined, most of the population now travel to nearby Macclesfield or Manchester for employment.Sutton Lane Ends has had an Anglican church, Sutton St. James, since 1840. The community of Sutton is served by a village shop, primary school (Hollinhey Primary School) and five public houses.

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