Marjorie Drawbell


Marjorie Violet Gloria Bull was born 1 March 1903 in Croydon, Surrey, the daughter of railway accounts clerk Ernest Bull and his wife Florence. Marjorie studied art, design and modelling at the Regent Street Polytechnic, under the sculptor Harold Brownsword.

According to the Mapping Sculpture website she started working at Charles Vyse's pottery studio in Chelsea around 1921.

In the summer of 1924 she joined the animation unit at New Era Films to work on G E Studdy's Bonzo series, as recalled by animator Brian White.

Later that summer she married the writer and editor James Wedgewood Drawbell. On 27 June 1925 the pair set sail for New York, arriving back in Southampton on 21 July. While this was probably a business trip for James, it may have doubled up as a delayed honeymoon. This in turn could suggest that Marjorie's commitment to Bonzo lasted until June 1925. It is a flimsy basis for speculation, but work on the series may have been planned to run 52 weeks from early/mid June 1924 to early/mid June 1925, at an average 2 weeks per film.

In 1930 James and Marjorie, while retaining their London address in St Johns Wood, took a house in Dormans Park, a private residential estate near East Grinstead, in order to raise a family.

Their daughter was born in the summer of 1931 and two years later they adopted a 10-month-old boy, a process James describes in his book Experiment in Adoption (published by Victor Gollancz, 1935).

The family subsequently moved to a larger house in Dormans Park to accomodate James's private secretary Sheila Carnell joining the household, and in 1938 they moved again to a house in the Sussex village of Rodmell, near Lewes. Their nextdoor neighbours were Hiawatha Coleridge-Taylor, son of the composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor, and his pianist wife Sarah. Marjorie and 'Watha remained friends up to his death in January 1980.

In the 1940s Marjorie returned to sculpting, principally for Poole Pottery, the company that her former tutor Harold Brownsword worked for. She modelled pottery figurines and animal groups and was also reproduced in silver by Asprey's. In 1953 she published a book entitled Making Pottery Figures, a practical guide to every stage of modeling, mold-making, casting, drying, firing, decorating and glazing. She also produced a series of plant paintings, which she exhibited at a London gallery in 1970.

In 1974 the Drawbells divorced and James married his secretary, Sheila.

Marjorie Drawbell died on 27 April 2000 at the age of 97.


Bonzo (series of 26 films)(New Era Films, 1924-5) Member of animation team

Links to Other Sites

Marjorie Violet G Drawbell - Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951: biographical and work-related details on a database of Sculptors hosted by Glasgow University.

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Peter Hale
Last updated 2019