Birth and childhood

R. K. Laxman (Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Laxman was born on the 24th October, 1921 in Mysore. His father was a headmaster and Laxman was the youngest of six sons; an older brother is the famous novelist, R. K. Narayan.

Laxman was engrossed by the illustrations in magazines such as The Strand Magazine, Punch, Bystander, Wide World and Tit-Bits, even before he could read. Soon he was drawing on his own, on the floors, walls and doors of his house and doodling caricatures of his teachers at school; praised by a teacher for his drawing of a peepal leaf, he began to think of himself as an artist in the making. Another early influence on Laxman were the cartoons of the world-renowned British cartoonist, Sir David Low (whose signature he misread as "cow" for a long time) that appeared now and then in The Hindu. 

Laxman notes in his autobiography, The Tunnel of Time:

I drew objects that caught my eye outside the window of my room - the dry twigs, leaves and lizard-like creatures crawling about, the servant chopping firewood and, of course, and number of crows in various postures on the rooftops of the buildings opposite

After high school, Laxman applied to the J. J. School of Art, Bombay hoping to concentrate on his lifelong interests of drawing and painting, but the dean of the school wrote to him that his drawings lacked, "the kind of talent to qualify for enrollment in our institution as a student", and refused admission. He finally graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mysore. In the meantime, he continued his freelance artistic activities and contributed cartoons to Swarajya and an animated film based on the mythological character, Narada. 


Laxman's earliest work was for newspapers and magazines such as Swarajya and Blitz. While still at the Maharaja College of Mysore, he began to illustrate his elder brother R K Narayan's stories in The Hindu, and he drew political cartoons for the local newspapers and for the Swatantra. Laxman also drew cartoons, for the Kannada humour magazine, Koravanji. He held a summer job at the Gemini Studios, Madras. His first full-time job was as a political cartoonist for the The Free Press Journal in Mumbai, where Bal Thackeray was his colleague. Laxman later joined The Times of India, beginning a career that has spanned for over fifty years.

He also created a popular mascot for the Asian Paints group called Gattu in 1954. Laxman has also penned a few novels. His cartoons have appeared in Hindi films such as Mr. and Mrs. '55 and a Tamil film Kamaraj. His creations also include the sketches drawn for the television adaptation of Malgudi Days which was written by his elder brother R K Narayan and directed by Shankar Nag.

His most famous character was the Common Man, which appeared in most of his cartoons.

Honours and Awards


The B D Goenka Award by the Indian Express
Durga Ratan Gold Medal by Hindustan Times
Padma Bhushan by Government of India
Padma Vibhushan by Government of India
The 1984 Ramon Magsaysay Award for journalism, Literature and creative arts
Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism by CNN IBN in 2008
R.K.Laxman's Doodles - February 9 - 28 , 2013

R.K. Laxman