John Farleigh Archive

Scope and Content

The archive has two principle elements. One is a collection of 96 woodblocks engraved by John Farleigh, the other is a large number of developmentalprints taken form those blocks and others. There are also a number of draftsof articles and lectures by Farleigh and a series of press cuttings, particularlynotices of exhibitions of Farleigh’s work.

Research potential

The archive could inform the study of British art from the mid 1920s tothe mid 1960s, with particular emphasis on wood engraving and book illustration.

Administrative / Biographical History

The artist and wood engraver [John] Frederick William Charles Farleigh(1900-1965), was born in London in 1900. He left school at 14 to become anarticled apprentice at the Artists Illustrators Agency, London, where his workinvolved lettering, wax engravings and black and white drawings for pressadvertising. At the same time he began to attend evening classes in drawingat the Bolt Court School. In 1918 he was called up for service in the armyand served until the armistice in November of that year. In 1919 he completedhis apprenticeship and obtained a government grant which enabled him to studyfull time for three years at the London County Council Central School of Artsand Crafts (later the Central School of Art and Design). Amongst his teachersthere were Bernard Meninsky and Noel Rooke who introduced him to wood engraving.From 1922 to 1925 Farleigh taught art at Rugby School before returning to Londonto take up a part-time post at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, teachingantique and still-life drawing and later, illustration.

Whilst continuing his work as a teacher, John Farleigh pursued the threestrands of his artistic career: as a designer, perhaps most notably for LondonTransport (1933 - 1963); as a book illustrator, employing his great talentsas a wood engraver and as a producer of fine, individual prints, again fromwood engraving.

In 1932 Farleigh received a great deal of acclaim and recognition for hisillustrations to an edition of The Adventures of the Black Girl in her Search for God,by George Bernard Shaw (London: Constable, 1932). Farleigh worked closelywith Shaw on developing the illustrations for the book which proved a greatcommercial and artistic success.

Farleigh exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions from 1937 until1964 and had a number of solo exhibitions at the Leicester Galleries and LefegravevreGallery, London, between 1938 and 1946.

In 1940 Farleigh was appointed as chairman of the Arts and Crafts ExhibitionSociety (now the Society of Designer Craftsmen). In 1946 the Society, in cooperationwith the Red Rose Guild, the Senefelder Club, the Society of Wood-Engraversand the Society of Scribes and Illuminators, formed the Crafts Centre of GreatBritain (now Contemporary Applied Arts). Farleigh was chairman of the Centrefrom 1950 until 1964.

John Farleigh was elected a member of the Society of Wood Engravers in1925 and a fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in1948. In 1949 he was appointed CBE for his work in founding the Crafts Centre.

John Farleigh died on 30 March 1965.


The archive was arranged and listed when it was originally deposited. As no information on original order is available, this arrangement has been maintained.

The series are arranged as follows:

  • FAR/1 Wood blocks
  • FAR/2 Proof prints, developmental prints, drawings and paintings
  • FAR/3 Book jacket and magazine cover designs
  • FAR/4 Articles, lectures and texts
  • FAR/5 Press clippings
  • FAR/6 Book publication
  • FAR/7 Miscellaneous

Access Information

Access is by appointment only. Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections at the Sir Kenneth Green Library are open from 10.00am - 4.00pm, Monday - Friday. Please contact: The Special Collections Archivist, Manchester Metropolitan University, Sir Kenneth Green Library, All Saints, Manchester, M15 6BH; tel: +44 (0)161 - 247 6159; e-mail:

Acquisition Information

The archive was deposited by the creator's neice, Barbara Kane, in 1986.

Other Finding Aids

Full catalogue available in the reading room, Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections.

Separated Material

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, holds seven of John Farleigh’s engraved wood blocks and a number of artist’s proof prints.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright rests with the creator’s niece, Barbara Kane.

Correspondence copyright rests with the author. Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents. All items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Special Collections Archivist.

Custodial History

After the creator's death in 1965 John Farleigh's archive remained in the custody of his widow. After her death their niece, Barbara Kane, deposited seven engraved wood blocks and a number of artist’s proof prints in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The remaining blocks and prints were then deposited in the Special Collections at Manchester Metropolitan University Library in 1986.

Related Material

See also the Book Design Collection at Manchester Metropolitan Library Special Collections for books illustrated by John Farleigh.

The British Library, London, holds a number of letters by John Farleigh to George Bernard Shaw, concerning the book, The Adventures of the Black Girl in her Search for God, by George Bernard Shaw (London: Constable, 1932): Add. MS 50534.


Poole, Monica, The wood engravings of John Farleigh (Henley-on-Thames: Gresham Books, 1985).

Stevens, Anne, John Farleigh: wood engravings (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1986).

Farleigh, John, Graven image: an Autobiographical Textbook (London: Macmillan, 1940).

Selborne, Joanna,British wood-engraved book illustration, 1904-1940: a break with tradition (London: British Library, 2001).

Hamilton, James, Wood engraving and the woodcut in Britain, c.1890-1990 (London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1994).

Garrett, Albert, ed., British wood engraving of the 20th century: a personal view (London: Scolar, 1980)

Peppin, Brigid and Micklethwaite, Lucy, Dictionary of British book illustrators: the twentieth century (London: Murray, 1991).

Chapman, Hilary ‘Farleigh, Frederick William Charles (1900-1965)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) [ ].