William Roberts, the son of a carpenter, was born in London in 1895. He studied at the Slade School (1910-13) and became a close friend of Percy Wyndham Lewis and worked with him on Blast and signed the Vorticist Manifesto.
In 1916 Roberts enlisted in the Royal Artillery as a gunner. The following year he was recruited as an official war artist. Paintings produced during the war included The First German Gas Attack, Burying the Dead, A Group of British Generals and A Shell Dump.
After the war he taught at the Central School of Art. Roberts also worked as an official war artist in the Second World War. William Roberts died in 1980.