A Punch cartoon from 1880 depicting a middle-class mother and son discussing the carved Gothic lettering on a breadboard.
“Well Austin, can you read that?”
“Well it is rather difficult! Those are Old English letters.”
“Are they? Then no wonder the Ancient Britons couldn’t read or write!”
Mr Andre Gailani of Punch kindly referred to the magazine’s archives and explains how the cartoon was probably referring to political efforts to solve mass illiteracy:
‘The year the cartoon was published was 1880, and in that year a new version of the Education Act (first introduced in 1870) came into force, which henceforth made it compulsory for children to attend school from the age of 5 to 10. The cartoonist du Maurier often added social/ political commentary to his cartoons, specifically in the way it affected the middle classes.’