Born: 1908, Grangemouth, Scotland Died: 2000, Durban, South Africa
He was born in Grangemouth, Scotland, and settled in Durban with his parents in 1926 which was to be his home for the rest of his life.
Jock attended part-time art classes at the Natal School of Art, Durban, and he decided to advance his studies in Britain by taking lessons in drawing and painting at Heatherleys School of Art, in etching at the Central London School of Art, and in anatomical drawing at the Royal Academy in the mid-1930s.
Jock was an internationally acclaimed cartoonist, particularly in the field of sport; but he was also much admired for his theatre and political cartoons. He was singled out by Time magazine as one of the top six newspaper cartoonists of the 20th century. His work was first published in 1927 in The Natal Advertiser which was to become the Natal Daily News in 1936 and The Daily News in 1962. He made a major contribution towards the popularity of this Durban daily newspaper.
Just about every sport received Jock Leyden’s attention as a cartoonist and illustrator but motor sport and in particular motorcycle racing were his great passion. He was the Patron of the Natal Motorcycle and Car Club for many years and it was during this time that he contributed several articles and illustrations to the club magazine covering early motoring events, in particular the DJ.
Jock studied art in SA and England and became a freelance illustrator in 1930. In 1933 he reported on the Isle of Man TT races and then stayed on in London with his work appearing in various publications including “The Autocar”.
Jock returned to SA in 1937 and after working for various newspapers, in 1939 he moved to the Daily News/Sunday Tribune where he remained until his official retirement in 1981.
However, his work continued to appear in newspapers and magazines until he eventually vacated his office and into a final retirement at the age of 81. In 1981 his work was recognised by the award of the South African Cartoonist of the Year but his reputation went further than SA and he was selected by Time Magazine as one of the world’s top six cartoonists of the 20th Century.
Jock passed in 2000 at the age of 91.
Jock having lived through the 1920s, 30s and 40s knew just about all the leading riders personally and was able to obtain their recollections at first hand. When they were published originally from 1962 to 1966 these great stars were about to leave or had already left the scene.
Any of those lucky enough to have been illustrated by Jock will know how accurate he was in making a faithful depiction, as they say, warts and all. When it came to the technicalities of bikes and cars he was equally accurate and he enjoyed his work less as the mechanical details were streamlined away.