The Washington Post

Ronald Reagan’s doodles in Margaret Thatcher’s collection

During the 1981 G7 summit in Ottawa, Canada, President Ronald Reagan doodled like a teenager in class.

A page of ink drawings among personal papers from 1981 released Saturday, by the Thatcher Archive at Britain's Cambridge University. (AP/AP)

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher kept this drawing of several portraits, an eye, and a man’s muscular torso. It has been released by the Thatcher archive, along with other personal papers from 1981.

“She told me it was fascinating to see it, and she just grabbed them,” said historian Chris Collins of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, to the Associated Press. “He just left it on his desk. She snaffled it up, put it in her papers, brought it back to Downing Street and kept it in her flat.”

The book “Presidential Doodles” by the staff of Cabinet Magazine reveals that Republican presidents are the greatest doodlers. One of Reagan’s doodles in the Thatcher collection appears to be a self-portrait. It wasn’t the only time that Reagan doodled his self-portrait: Cabinet Magazine has another image of Reagan’s disembodied portraits, with an image of himself in a cowboy hat (PDF). Many of his drawings resemble the ads for art classes that used to run in the back of magazines.

Presidential doodles can be analyzed to tell us about our leaders’ inner thoughts, whether they’re anxious, carefree, or arrogant. Likewise, Reagan’s doodles reveal something about him: That he was bored.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.


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