Drawings for a beloved wife

5 January 2012
Ben Pentreath

In this morning’s Guardian, a beautiful series of drawings by Ronald Searle, who died last week, which he produced for his wife Monica in the 1970s while she suffered from a rare and virulent form of cancer.

Searle made a drawing each time his wife underwent treatment, ‘to cheer every dreaded chemotherapy session and evoke the blissful future ahead’. They depict the dilapidated house the Searles had bought together in the south of France a few months before Monica’s diagnosis, and which they restored over the next five years.

She survived, and as the Guardian writes, ‘the intimate drawings stand as a moving testament to love and hope’.

A few months ago, Searle published all 47 drawings in a little book called Les Très Riches Heures de Mrs Mole. Bridie read my blog and ordered lots of copies. So you can now buy the book here.

14 comments on this post

When I was around 13, my mother and I discovered Searle’s “The St. Trinian’s Story”, a book about the St. Trinian’s girl-school phenomena that he started. As I was myself a student at an all-girl shcool at the time, it made quite an impression. I still have it, and it still makes me laugh! Searle and Charles Addams are my favorite cartoonists. The Mrs. Mole drawings are truly delightful, but I like the dark side of the St. Trinian’s cartoons. Thanks for posting about Searle.

Excellent blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any recommendations? Cheers!


Hello! Well, I love using WordPress, very easy to use indeed, I have had no problems at all. My website guy Joe fixed it all up for me.

And my hint is, the more you write – the easier it gets!

Ben x

Ben, your site is beautiful, the old parsonage amazing, and as I sit here with tears rolling down my face, I wanted to thank you for sharing these gorgeous drawings. Ronald Searls imagery betray a love in such a simple yet intimate way, oh what one of us would not wish to be adored like that.


Dear Kathryn, thank you so much – yes they are amazing drawings.. B

these are so very cute pictures))) so nice so nice)))


Very touching and a depiction of true love.

Oh and I should add that Ronald searle was definitely part of my childhood. My father was an artist and he had Ronald searles books that I just devoured….he is definitely one of my great influences has a working artist now!

Thank you Ben! I’ve just discovered your lovely website with the shop and inspiration blog and now I am in heaven!. I was born in the U.K but have resided in N.Z since I was 14. I love here, but my heart is very much in the countryside of west Sussex. I returned for a 6 week visit in Autumn 2011 and fell in love with it all over again! So with your inspirational blog I shall return regularly to fill the nostalgic hole in my soul. Thank you so much!


Dear Annie, thanks so much for your comment and I’m glad I can send a little bit of England to New Zealand. Bridie, of course, who runs the shop, is coming from NZ to London!! All best, Ben


Have only recently discovered Ronald Searle’s work through listening to his Desert Island Discs last week. These illustrations are beautiful, such a fascinating man, wish I had known about his work before.

these capture joy and happiness so beautifully. thank you for sharing these!

Thanks for showing these delightful Ronald Searle drawings. I like all of the little details, the village in the distance, her pinafore hanging on the hook, their matching outfits, the bike leaning on the fence – lovely

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