CYNICUS

Martin Anderson [Known as CYNICUS]

Martin Anderson (1854-1932) was a genius as an illustrator and cartoonist. From his small offices at 59 Drury Lane, The Strand, he took London by storm in the early 1890s with the publication of his books, The Satires of Cynicus; The Humours of Cynicus; Symbols and Metaphors; and Cartoons, Social and Political.

As a Victorian artist, Cynicus created cartoons and those postcard designs for which he is most famous for. In 1902, in Tayport he started his own publishing company [the postcard craze had taken off, and in 1902 alone, it was estimated that 420 million cards were posted in Britain]. Although his cartoons and cards were humorous, he was not trying merely to amuse, but also to put across some message that would correct some social evil or injustice.

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Cynicus’ company became one of the major employers in Newport, which, in turn, allowed him to purchase land in Balmullo. On this land he set about constructing a grand mansion house and landscaping beautiful grounds which he opened to the local public for their walks and picnics. The house became his haven for art and pieces of archaeological interest that he brought in from all over the world. The locals affectionately called it ‘Cynicus Castle’.

But he was a flawed genius. He really had no business sense. His last major work published from London, his Cartoons, Social and Political, – 36 pages of illustrated denunciation – upset those who could best afford to buy his illustrated works, which really were quite expensive. His Castle Cynicus, which he had built at Balmullo, near Leuchars, drained away the profits of The Cynicus Publishing Company at Tayport. And when he was later in business at 45 York Place, Edinburgh, during the 1 World War, his anti-war posters and cards proved not at all popular and caused much offence. Nor was he able to get any financial support from the banks after his publication of “The Great Bank Fraud,” which denounced these institutions.

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1908 saw the beginning of the Depression years which engulfed the country and inevitably began to affect Martin’s company and, ultimately, the people of Tayport. Postcards were classed as luxuries that were not needed so the decline in business continued until, in 1911, it faced financial ruin.

Cynicus and his sister, Anna, survived their final years at Castle Cynicus in abject poverty. Cynicus died in the Spring of 1932 with no funds to pay for his funeral he was laid to rest in Tayport Auld Kirk Yard where, to this day, his tomb lies unmarked. His sister died less than a year later.

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After suffering from many years of neglect, and ultimately vandalism, his beloved Castle Cynicus eventually fell into disrepair and was finally demolished in 1939.