Edward Ambrose Dyson was born in South Melbourne in 1908 to Bulletin cartoonist Ambrose Arthur Dyson and his wife Mabel. Dyson's uncles were well known cartoonist Will Dyson and the Bulletin writer, journalist and balladist Edward George (Ted) Dyson. The death of his father in 1913 left Ambrose and his mother in a state of poverty, and Mrs Dyson was forced to take in boarders to keep them afloat. These early days in the slums of Richmond and Collingwood surrounded by poverty, unemployment and exploitation were to profoundly influence Dyson's views and work.
He began his art training in 1936 at the Working Men's College (now RMIT). During WWII he served as a sergeant with the camouflage unit of the Royal Australian Engineers. It was also during this time he began exhibiting with his first show opening in April 1944 at the Myer Mural Hall.
Around this time Dyson was transferred to the Army Education Service where he began producing work for SALT. He also drew a weekly cartoon for the radical independent newspaper Midday Times. Where he was given carte blanc to comment on anything, his cartoons covering a range of topics which included war-time profiteers, Fascism, re-armament and the emerging cold-war.
In 1945 Ambrose joined the Communist Party and remained an active member until his death often combining his work with his political activity. Frank Hardy describes Dyson as having a 'contempt for authority and convention, a hatred for the forces of capitalism...mateship was to him a religion - he loved human company for its own sake' (Hardy, 1953). Following WWII he produced a weekly cartoon for Labour Call from May 1946 to February 1949. He then became the editorial cartoonist for the Communist Party weekly newspaper the Guardian when Noel Counihan left to study in Europe. Dyson also provided illustrations for two of Frank Hardy's books Power Without Glory and The Man from Clinkapella.Reviewing an exhibition of Dyson's work at Australia-Soviet House in 1945 Clive Turnbull wrote 'an artist with a social consciousness, a ready wit, and a hatred of tyranny and evil, Dyson has something to say to Australia.'
Dyson passed away in November 1952 from thrombosis and was survived by his wife, Phyl, and their daughter Janie.
Design & Art Australia Online. 'Edward Ambrose Dyson' http://www.daao.org.au/bio/edward-ambrose-dyson/#artist_biography
Hardy, Frank (1953). Ambrose Dyson - Man and Artist of the People. Melbourne: Ambrose Dyson Memorial Committee.
Turnbull, Clive (1945). Cartoons of Ambrose Dyson. The Herald, 17 August, p. 8