Muriel Rose archive

Scope and Content

The archive consists of

  • Personal documents, including diaries
  • Personal correspondence, including Christmas and greetings cards
  • Correspondence and papers relating to artists and craftspeople
  • Material relating to the Little Gallery, including account books and promotional material
  • Material relating to Rose's work for the British Council, including notes for the Exhibition of Modern British Crafts
  • Photographs of the Little Gallery
  • Photographs of craft objects
  • Micellaneous photographs
  • Newspaper cuttings and articles
  • Miscellaneous papers and documents

Administrative / Biographical History

Muriel Rose was born in 1897 . From 1917  to 1920  she was a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD). Rose began her long association with the crafts working as an assistant to Dorothy Hutton in the Three Shields Gallery, Kensington and assisting the selection committee at the 1926  exhibition of The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. It was there that she first thought of running her own gallery.

Rose persuaded her father to allow her to use the 400 left in her brother's account (he had died in the World War I) and with this, set up the Little Gallery near Sloane Square in 1928 . Her partner in the venture was Margaret (Peggy) Turnbull who looked after the accounts and who she had first worked with at the Three Shields Gallery. They created The Little Gallery from a former laundry depot in 5 Ellis Street and it proved to be just what they needed, giving them a large, ground floor room with plenty of daylight and a decent basement space below. For the minimum expense they stripped it out and painted it white, and expanded into the neighbouring premises at 3 Ellis Street within a few years.

Rose had a good eye and very high standards, from the beginning she was determined to show only the best contemporary craft work, and did not want the gallery to be thought of as a gift shop. The intention was to enable craftspeople to show their work in the same way as painters or sculptors. Rose was the acknowledged agent for many of the craft pioneers of the inter-war period. Between 1928  and 1940 the Little Gallery provided a space where customers could meet and be introduced to contemporary craft.

Bombing closed the gallery down in 1940  and Rose, with Bernard Leach, came up with the idea of taking an exhibition of British craftwork to the USA to promote British crafts. The British Council employed Rose to select a travelling exhibition. The Exhibition of Modern British Crafts opened at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in May 1942 and it toured the USA and Canada until November 1945 . After this venture the British Council purchased a collection of crafts.

Rose was the author of The Artist Potter in England which was published by Faber & Faber in 1954  and then reprinted as Artist Potters in Britain in 1970 . Rose was instrumental in setting up the Crafts Study Centre at the Holburne Museum in Bath and was founder Trustee. She died in 1986 .


Individual items have been grouped by type and by subject.

Conditions Governing Access

The archival material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Becky Lyle, Submissions Officer for the project and by Jean Vacher, Collections Manager at the Crafts Study Centre. The biography was written by Frances Lord.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue is available onsite.

Conditions Governing Use

The photocopying of archival material is not allowed. Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled


None expected

Related Material

The Crafts Study Centre holds other material relating to the Muriel Rose archive in the

  • Bernard Leach archive
  • Nora Braden archive
  • Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie archive
  • Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher archive
  • Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher textile archive
  • William Simmonds archive

Also see access points