Edward Bawden

Edward Bawden CBE RA RDI (British, 1903-1989)

Edward Bawden was born at Braintree in Essex in 1903. He attended the local high school there before studying at the Cambridge School of Art (1919-21). He worked under Paul Nash at the Royal College of Art (1922-26) where he made friends with Eric Ravilious and Douglas Percy Bliss. His talent as an illustrator quickly came to the fore and in 1925 he was commissioned by the Curwen Press to illustrate a booklet and design some patterned paper. Throughout the 1930s he taught at Goldsmith’s College and the Royal College of Art. In 1935, he and Eric Ravilious took on Brick House at Great Bardfield, Essex and became the centre of the group of artists generally defined as the Great Bardfield School which included John Nash and Ravilious.

Bawden was made CBE in 1946 and RA in 1956. He later moved to Saffron Walden, Essex continuing to work as indoustriously as ever. He died in 1989, the same year that a major retrospective of his work was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

As Alan Horne has written, “By any standards, Bawden must be considered a master in the art of illustrating books. He had a remarkable feeling for design, and in his best work, his illustrations decorate the page in a typographical as well as a pictorial way. He had an instinct for picking out essential attributes and recording them with relish.” (A Dictionary of British Book Illustration, pp.93-94).

References: Douglas Percy Bliss. Edward Bawden, 1979; The world of Edward Bawden, 1973, Horne, Alan. The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators: 93-94; Justin Howes. Edward Bawden: A Retrospective Survey, 1988; Jeremy Greenwood. Edward Bawden: editioned prints, 2005 (hereafter referred to as MG).