The real John Bull died on 12 March in 1628. He is credited with the composition of an early form of the British National anthem, "God Save the King". He was organist to James I.
John Bull is an imaginary figure created in 1712 by Scottish cartoonist Dr John
Arbuthnot. He is intended as a personification of Great Britain as a
nation, but is more commonly accepted as a personification of the
nation of England.
John Bull is typically portrayed as a portly fellow sporting a top hat and wearing the Union Jack flag as a shirt. He often has a cane and overcoat. He became widely known from cartoons by Sir John Tenniel published in the British humor magazine Punch during the middle and late nineteenth century.
John Bull's surname is reminiscent of the alleged fondness of the English for beef, reflected in the French nickname for English people les rosbifs (the "Roast Beefs").
John Bull became an emblem of freedom, of manly English virtue, assertiveness, stubbornness, pride, and a fighting independence. The John Bull character was portrayed as a drinking man, hard-headed, down-to-earth, averse to intellectualism, fond of dogs, horses, ale, and country sports.
|This British WW1 recruiting poster showing John Bull was produced in 1914 or 1915, before mandatory conscription began.
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