Spitsticks and Multiples: The History of the Society of Wood Engravers 1920-46

Artist(s): Various
Author(s): Simon Lawrence
Format: hardback
Year published: 2020
Publisher: Fleece Press
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour and black and white throughout


1 available

March 2020 marked the Centenary of the Society of Wood Engravers. One hundred years earlier, seven engravers met in Philip Hagreen’s studio and six of those seven agreed to form a new Society with a single agreed purpose of mounting exhibitions devoted to ‘woodcutting and engraving by the European method’.

During these early years between 1920 and 1946, the Society comprised a tiny group of about fifteen to twenty members, plus a few associates. Although numerous travelling exhibitions were put on with many brilliant prints, sales struggled. The backroom story is also one of struggle, particularly when the SWE split in 1925, and its offshoot the English Wood Engraving Society, was formed.

This book, published in two volumes, brings together text amounting to a quarter of a million words with a huge quantity of work produced by the members during the first 20 or so years of the Society. Biographies of almost every one of the 342 exhibiting engravers will be published for the first time, alongside the transcribed minute books of the Society, surviving correspondence, press cuttings, private view invitations, posters, and the entire list of exhibited prints. A useful overview of these early SWE days is provided in an Introduction by Joanna Selborne.


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