Lettice Leefe, the Greenest Girl in School
Cartoon strip from 1951 to 1965
For Eagle’s companion magazine Girl (which in 1964 merged with Princess) Ryan created the popular ‘Lettice Leefe, The Greenest Girl in School’. Lettice, a well-meaning child, has an uncanny knack for upstaging her teachers, the weighty Miss Froth and slender Miss Tantrum – and she enjoys a good pun! Every week, Ryan’s wife Priscilla would design Miss Froth’s splendid and colourful outfits. She never wore the same clothes twice.
For many years, Ryan received the same fee for each weekly strip: £21 for colour, 15 guineas for black and white. As in all Ryan’s strips at this time, he used an ink pen to hand-write all the black-ink captions. He had recently tamed his handwriting by learning a beautiful flexible italic.
Ryan produced Lettice Leefe strips for each Girl annual in black and white, including a four-pager for the first one. In this story, Miss Froth has engaged a famous detective to investigate the loss of the school (St Addledegga’s) silver sports trophy. Needless to say, he turns out to be none other than Harris Tweed, Extra Special Agent! “What an important looking man!” says Lettice. It turns out that the school handy-man, Bluggins, has used the trophy as a flowerpot in which to nurture his cress.
There are very few authentic Lettice Leefe original artworks extant.
On display in the exhibition: 1 original cartoon strip (image to right shows detail) and 5 printed cartoon strips from Girl.