Martin Aitchison - A biography


Martin Aitchison was born in Birmingham in 1919. He was educated at Ellesmere College in Shropshire, where his serious deafness (later profound), hindered his academic education. He left at the age of fifteen to develop his evident artistic talents at Birmingham School of Art and, later, at the Slade School of Art, where he met (and later married) fellow student Dorothy Self. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1939.

Martin's deafness precluded him from the Services in World War II, but after Dunkirk he felt he could no longer remain an art student and enrolled with Vickers Aircraft as a technical illustrator, producing service manuals. He was also involved in producing drawings for Barnes Wallis's top-secret 'Bouncing Bomb', used in the famous Dam Buster raid.

After the War, Martin became a commercial artist, free-lancing, through agents, for a wide range of advertising clients. He also illustrated women?s magazines, including Vogue, with fashion, fiction and humorous drawings. In 1952 he began an eleven year stint working for the 'Eagle' magazine for boys, illustrating the 'Luck of the Legion', 'Lost World', 'Hornblower' and other serialised adventure strips. He also drew a comic weekly strip for 'Swift' (another Hulton Press paper for younger boys and girls).

In 1963, Martin left the 'Eagle' for Ladybird Books, just on the point of launching the Key Words Reading Scheme. He worked extensively on that project and many other Ladybird Books of all types, including 'Well Loved Tales', 'Puddle Lane', educational and humorous books. His wife Dorothy (d.2003) wrote some of these, the most important being the three books of the 'Great Artists' series.

Martin ceased to work for Ladybird Books in 1987 and after working for a number of other clients, including the Oxford University Press, he retired, to return to his early love of painting and drawing. For many years he remained very active, keeping fit with walks in the countryside around Oxford and Henley on Thames and passed away on 22nd October 2016