Ronald Searle, who died recently at the age of 91, was a smashing artist whose work included covers for the New Yorker and Punch, as well as the best- selling St Trinian’s and Molesworth series, which parodied life at English girls’ and boys' boarding schools.
But Searle's most personal and poignant creation was an adorable series of drawings called Les Très Riches Heures de Mrs Mole, which he made for his wife, "to cheer every dreaded chemotherapy session and evoke the blissful future ahead." On New Year's Eve 1969, Monica Searle had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer, yet she overcame it and lived another 40 years, thanks in part to her husband's devotion as expressed in the drawings. "Everything about them had to be romantic and perfect" he later recounted. "I drew them originally for no one’s eyes except Mo’s, so she would look at them propped up against her bedside lamp and think: 'When I’m better, everything will be beautiful.'"