The Inward Laugh: Edward Bawden and his Circle by Malcolm Yorke - review by Peyton Skipwith

Peyton Skipwith

The Lino of Beauty

The Inward Laugh: Edward Bawden and his Circle


Fleece Press 292pp £262

1903 was an annus mirabilis for Britain, witnessing the birth of many of the artists and writers, ranging from Graham Sutherland to George Orwell, who were to dominate the interwar and immediate post-war years. Edward Bawden and his closest friend, Eric Ravilious, were of this vintage. Both were honoured with exhibitions during their centenary year, but Malcolm Yorke’s long-promised biography of Bawden was stalled by a prospective publisher. The two-year delay, however, has proved beneficial to both author and public; it now makes its appearance as what will almost certainly prove to be one of the most desirable private-press books of the decade. Simon Lawrence at his Fleece Press has produced a sumptuously illustrated volume (printed by J W Northend Fine Print in Matthew Carter’s Miller Display on PhoeniXmotion Xantur paper), with extra double- and triple-fold plates, tipped in by hand. As if this was not honour enough for that extraordinary polymath, whose quirky vision was transmitted to the world through posters, murals, tile-panels on the London Underground, book illustration and lino-cuts, the Wood Lea Press has produced, almost simultaneously, an equally desirable volume devoted to his editioned prints. (Set in Adobe New Baskerville, it has also been printed by Northend, but this time on 150gsm Gardapat.)

Bawden was the only child of strict Methodist parents; his father was an ironmonger in Braintree, Essex. The loveless austerity of his childhood marked him out for life as a person who would prefer his own company to that of others, would eschew public pleasures in favour of solitary reading,

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