The papers of William Staite Murray

Scope and Content

The papers of W. Staite Murray, mainly from the 1930s. Includes 3 files of technical correspondence, 1 file of lectures, etc., and 10 files of other correspondence, including with members of his family and with fellow-artists. A few carbon copies of letters from WSM, and 4 sheets of sketches, are found in the files, and there are 2 photocopied letters from him to his nephew in the 1950s.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Staite Murray, born in Greenwich in 1881, decided against working in his father's bulb and seed firm, and by 1915 he was 'studying Buddhism, painting, experimenting with bronze casting and making earthenware plates at the Yeoman Pottery in Kensington'. In 1919 he began to explore the techniques of early Chinese stoneware. He was an early proponent of the idea of thrown pots representing a branch of abstract sculpture, and in 1927 he became the sole potter member of the Seven & Five Society.
In 1925 he was appointed pottery instructor at the Royal College of Art, and was soon Head of Department. His pupils included Thomas Samuel Haile, Henry Hammond, Margaret Rey, Heber Mathews, R.J. Washington and Philip Wadsworth.
He was in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) when the Second World War started, and settled in East Africa. He died in 1962.


WSM/1 Kilns, Fuel, Clay, etc. 1920-1938
WSM/2 Patents 1925-1929
WSM/3 Tiles 1933-1938
WSM/4 General correspondence 1924-1939, 1950s
WSM/5 Leach Pottery correspondence 1925-1938
WSM/6 Correspondence with Mukul Dey 1927
WSM/7 Letters, etc., about exhibitions 1925-1937, 1958
WSM/8 The Seven and Five Society 1931-1937
WSM/9 Lectures, broadcasts, etc. [1930s]
WSM/10 Sketches and lists [1930s]

Access Information

Archive material may be consulted by appointment only.

Acquisition Information

Papers loaned by Staite Murray's widow in 1985. Transformed to a gift 2006

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue is available onsite

Archivist's Note

Listed when on loan to the Crafts Study Centre

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.


None expected

Related Material

Notes in the papers of Philip Wadsworth (PSW); Catalogue of 1958 exhibition in one of James Noel White's files (JNW/3/13)

Geographical Names