Photo gallery: Cartoonist Annie Tempest celebrates 20 years of Tottering-by-Gently

Annie Tempest at work in her studio. PHOTO; Matthew Usher

Annie Tempest at work in her studio. PHOTO; Matthew Usher - Credit: Matthew Usher

For almost 20 years, her Tottering-by-Gently cartoon creations have delighted legions of readers.

Now, as the double-decade milestone approaches, Norfolk's own Annie Tempest has revealed the genetic inspiration behind her Country Life comic strip - her talented great-grandmother Eleanor.

In a book to mark the anniversary, Miss Tempest - from Stibbard, near Fakenham - tells how she discovered, a decade into her career, that her antecedent was also a cartoonist.

And the two ladies' work was strikingly similar in both its style and subject matter.

Miss Tempest found the cartoons while looking through family scrapbooks in the library of Broughton Hall, Yorkshire where she lived as a child.

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Her great-grandmother even produced a sketch of a sick spaniel tucked up in bed, believed to be drawn around 1870. There are Tottering-by-Gently cartoons of dogs on a bed.

Miss Tempest said: 'It's so spooky and bizarre. I have read a bit about her in my family history and she was an incredibly talented and extraordinary woman.

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'I knew she was a wood carver and a creative person but had no idea she was a cartoonist until I saw these drawings. I must have picked up some of her talents without even knowing it.'

Eleanor Tempest, who died in 1928, was primarily a scholarly archivist, producing various historical documents.

Miss Tempest has found no written reference to the cartoons.

January 2014 sees the 20th anniversary of the first publication in Country Life magazine of the Tottering-by-Gently cartoon strip. Miss Tempest formed a business partnership with Raymond O'Shea of the O'Shea Gallery and Tottering-by-Gently became a brand.

Her work has been shown in exhibitions in London, New York, Virginia and Mexico City. It also has a permanent presence in venues in London, Australia, America and the Muthiga Country Club in Nairobi, Kenya.

Since the first Tottering book was published in November 1996, a further 17 titles have been published.

The Tottering-by-Gently cartoons are enjoyed by people in countries around the world, including China and Russia.

Miss Tempest has also worked for several national newspapers and lifestyle magazines and, in 2009, she won the Cartoon Art Trust's prestigious Pont Prize for the portrayal of a British character for the Tottering-by-Gently strip.

In those 20 years since the start, a single week has not passed without a Tottering-by-Gently cartoon in Country Life.

Miss Tempest said: 'I'm incredibly, boringly reliable. I find myself incapable of letting people down. Finding new material can be challenging but it's what I have to do.'

She added: 'I have never been a particularly outgoing person, or a party animal, and it is through my cartoons that I express my observations about the world around me.'

Miss Tempest bases many of her characters on real people.

Dicky Tottering is based on her father Henry Tempest, her two children Freddy and Daisy become the inspiration for the Tottering grandchildren and Daffy Tottering is based on her friend called Minneke Gregorie.

Tottering-by-Gently - The First Twenty Years is now available from book shops and can be ordered from the website,

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