Charles M. Schulz at Somerset House

Get your last chance to see Charles M. Schulz, creator of Charlie Brown exhibiting at Somerset House. Charles M. Schulz had essential tremor which the characteristic wavy lines can be seen in his later drawings.

GOOD GRIEF, CHARLIE BROWN! brings together Charles M. Schulz original Peanuts cartoons with work from a wide range of acclaimed contemporary artists and designers who have been inspired by this highly influential and much-loved cartoon. 

Watch the GOOD GRIEF, CHARLIE BROWN! Celebrating Snoopy and the Enduring Power of Peanuts video

Charles M. Schulz, essential tremor and his work

Charles M. Schulz had essential tremor, a neurological disorder in which people exhibit a rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, legs, trunk and/or voice. It can afflict persons of any age, gender and race and in the vast majority of all cases it is inherited. While more commonly noticed in older individuals, essential tremor can begin as early as birth.

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The characteristic wavy lines associated with essential tremor can be seen in his later drawings as in the one to the right. By 1980s, Schulz complained that “sometimes my hand shakes so much I have to hold my wrist to draw.” Many people assumed that Schulz had Parkinson’s Disease.  However, according to a letter from his physician, placed in the Archives of the  Charles M. Schulz Museum by his widow, Schulz had essential tremor, a condition alleviated by beta blockers. Despite this, Schulz insisted on writing and drawing the strip by himself.

By the late 1980s, Schulz had incorporated his affliction as fully as possible into his line-work, and you can often see drawings in which the tremor is barely evident, when a quick line perfected by decades of practice (Charlie Brown’s head, for example) is executed in a single flawless stroke, while other, finickier details (the shading on Lucy’s hair, Snoopy’s constantly evolving nose) wobble like a footfall on a seismograph. He got the effects with a single, when Esterbrook discontinue , Schulz bought its entire unsold stock so he would be sure he had the tools he needed for the job.

Exhibition details

GOOD GRIEF, CHARLIE BROWN! exhibition runs until 3 March, at Embankment Galleries, South Wing, Somerset House.

Concession tickets are available for those registered disabled and accompanying carers go free. Go to the Somerset House website for more details or to book.

The exhibition ends in March, which marks the beginning of National Essential Tremor Awareness month.

We would like to thank Sam Thielman from The Guardian for providing the background information on Charles M. Schulz.