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Clifford Webb (1894-1972) was one of Britain’s foremost wood engravers and a successful illustrator of children’s books, but today his work is often overlooked. Held in high esteem by his peers, he studied under Eric Gill and Walter Sickert, and later taught at St Martin’s, but much of his work was either deliberately destroyed or otherwise failed to survive. Now, the renowned wood engraver Simon Brett has painstakingly assembled much of what remains of this extraordinary artist’s output for this firstbook about Webb – both an autobiography and an appreciation.
Webb was born in Limehouse, London, but later concealed his working-class background; his experiences fghting in the frst world war on the western front and at Gallipoli left him badly wounded and suffering from trauma that lasted much of the rest of his life. He married the writer Ella Monckton, but maintained a long relationship with another woman: on his death Ella destroyed much of his work.
His confident lines and varied subject matter brought him critical acclaim, his illustrations for Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and Swallowdale, alongside the many books for children he wrote and illustrated with Ella brought him public notice; this new, fully illustrated book will remind many of his extraordinary talent and will recruit many new enthusiasts.