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“Luxury Flat”, by Osbert Lancaster, from “Homes Sweet Homes”, 1939. All images © Estate of Osbert Lancaster, with permission Clare Hastings 2016.


Osbert Lancaster had decided views about young women who decorated their flats after William Morris. Having papered her walls in Morris’s Strawberry Thief or Acanthus designs, “soon the Blessed Damozel was yearning down from between pendant Japanese fans”. Meanwhile “the cast-iron mantelpiece, tastefully incised with sunflowers by Mr Walter Crane, supported two Chinese ginger jars and a vase of Satsuma ware . . . Surrounded by such testimonies to her sensibility as these the intellectual young woman could safely relax and lend a properly appreciative ear to the patter of Pater and whispers of Wilde.”

This description appears in Lancaster’s Homes Sweet Homes, recently republished with From Pillar to Post and Drayneflete Revealed in handsome sunflower-yellow bindings by The Pimpernel Press (Osbert Lancaster’s Cartoons, Columns and Curlicues, £40.) As I read his spoof of the “Greenery Yallery” tendency, with its facing cartoon of a sitting-room blooming with bamboo sofa legs, palm fronds and flower-bower walls, I looked up sheepishly at my own bedroom papered in William Morris willow bough. Oh dear.

How easily and elegantly Lancaster had skewered the interior design tastes of this particular Damozel. He’d got me down even to the Chinese ginger jar lamp on my desk. Mortifying.


"Greenery Yallery" by Osbert Lancaster

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