This book is a labour of love. It began in the first year of my PhD when I discovered (and laughed out loud in the Bodleian Library!) John Ryan’s weekly cartoons and used them in my dissertation to illuminate the religious changes in the 1960s. The quest for copyright permissions for my monograph led me to Isabel, and ten years later we mounted an exhibition together celebrating her father’s intellect and artistry. While Captain Pugwash will remain Ryan’s most famous cartoon creation, the biretta wearing, rotund and often venial Cardinal Grotti in his dark shades is an excellent counterpart – gently poking fun at religious hypocrisy and the excesses of ‘Romanism’.Dr Alana Harris, Director of Liberal Arts and Senior Lecturer in Modern British History
27 January 2021
Dr Alana Harris publishes new book 'Sink or Swim: Catholicism in Sixties Britain through John Ryan's Cartoons'
Dr Alana Harris, Director of Liberal Arts and Senior Lecturer in Modern British History, has published a new book on the works of cartoonist John Ryan, creator of the television series Captain Pugwash.
Through his weekly illustrations in the Catholic Herald, John Ryan (1921–2009) offered a topical interrogation of the British Catholic Church’s sometimes adaptive, though often inflexible responses to the changes and challenges of the period.
Sink or Swim: Catholicism in Sixties Britain through John Ryan's Cartoons provides a personal portrait of the extraordinary ups and downs of religion in the Sixties—encompassing the machinations of popes and cardinals, the testimony of expert witnesses, runaway priests, radical reformists and lay protest movements.
Dr Harris currently teaches modules encompassing the history of Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a particular focus on the history of London and modern constructions and experiences of gender identities, ethnicity and sexuality. Her expertise also encompasses areas of contemporary religious pluralism in Britain and the intersections between religion and migration. She previously held an exhibition on John Ryan's cartoons with Isabel Ryan, the youngest daughter of John Ryan, at the Maughan Library in January 2019.
Sink or Swim: Catholicism in Sixties Britain through John Ryan's Cartoons is written by Dr Alana King and Isabel Ryan, and can be purchased here.