Election 2015 England

Victorian cartoons depict 'brutal' 1880 election campaign

Behold the head of a traitor leaflet
Image caption One leaflet from 1880 portrayed former Bristol mayor Elisha Smith Robinson as a decapitated traitor

The brutal electioneering of Victorians is laid bare in an archive of political cartoons from more than 100 years ago.

The Bristol University collection from 1880 contains depictions of candidates as bucking donkeys, two-faced windbags and decapitated traitors.

Archivist Hannah Lowery said the leaflets show they did things "we probably wouldn't get away with now".

The university is now appealing for leaflets from the 2015 campaign to form part of its ongoing collection.

Many of the artefacts from the 1880 ballot took aim at the Liberal candidate and Bristol printing magnate Elisha Smith Robinson.

Image caption Too many people getting a ride on this horse? Liberal opponents thought so
Image caption Class was made an issue in this leaflet featuring Bristol's Goldney House

Ms Lowery added: "It's another era. People are playing much more with the idea of words. They're writing little poems, they're making use of puns.

"They do things we probably wouldn't get away with now - it's from an era when there was a lot more political cartooning.

"You'll find election addresses that we have now are much more measured and careful."

The 1880 general election returned two Liberal MPs for Bristol, Samuel Morley and Lewis Fry.

William Gladstone was re-elected Prime Minister for the first time.

Image caption Robinson is portrayed as ruffling feathers in this cartoon
Image caption Here he is depicted as a donkey

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