Asterix in Britain: The Life and Work of René Goscinny

If you're in London from 10th May to the 30th September, head on down to the Jewish Museum. There you'll find an exhibition containing original artworks, scripts and other ephemera from Asterix creator René Goscinny.

They also have events related to the exhibition such as a talk by Oliver Kamm, son of legendary Asterix translator Anthea Bell.

 Self-portrait, 1948

Self-portrait, 1948

This is a major retrospective exhibition on the life and work of René Goscinny (1926-1977), the ingenious writer of beloved comics such as Astérix and Lucky Luke, an artist who revolutionised the genre and dissolved the divide between learned and popular culture.

Over 100 items gathered from around the world will be displayed for the first time together in the UK, including original artworks, scripts and storyboards as well as Goscinny’s own tools, sketchbooks and family photographs. The exhibition highlights his contribution to European culture, at the same time as unearthing the substance of his Jewish heritage.

Born in Paris in 1926, Goscinny was a child of Jewish emigrants from Poland and Ukraine. He spent his childhood in Argentina, before moving to New York as a young man. It was following his return to Europe that Goscinny founded the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote and launched his career as a cartoonist.

 René Goscinny (writer) and Albert Uderzo (design) Asterix and Caesar’s Gift 1974

René Goscinny (writer) and Albert Uderzo (design) Asterix and Caesar’s Gift 1974

In 1959, in the first issue of Pilote, Goscinny, with Albert Uderzo, released his most famous creation, Astérix, which follows the adventures of a village of indomitable Gauls as they resist Roman occupation in the year 50 BC. The series was an instant hit with readers and is today considered one of the world’s most popular comics.

Goscinny’s books have sold 500 million copies worldwide, and his work has been translated into 150 languages, with 100 film adaptations. Yet despite the impressive figures of Goscinny’s success, the story of the man himself and the scale of his work have been underexplored until now.

Abigail Morris, Director of the Jewish Museum, said: “We have gathered materials of an unprecedented scale and richness for this exhibition, which highlights the brilliance and creativity of a remarkable writer, the child of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, who made a huge contribution to European culture.

"Characters like Asterix, humorously yet shrewdly tell the story of a marginalised people under threat and how a small village use their wits to resist an occupying force. It’s a story which appeals not only to all ages but resonates with readers all over the world.

"Visitors will learn not only about the outputs of Goscinny’s prolific career but also about the cultural heritage that lay behind his genius.”