The papers of John Woodcock

Scope and Content

The material was given to the Crafts Study Centre by John Woodcock at the same time as gifted eighteen pieces of his calligraphic work in 2008. The material was intended to 'provide some back-up information about the collection', and includes: copies of Society of Scribes and Illuminators (SSI) catalogues from 1951, 1961 and 1968; paper tests using Woodcock's resist technique; printed examples of his work; and photographs of his early works, including two very early pieces from 1942 when Woodcock was a student at the RCA.

Administrative / Biographical History

Extract from 'A Lifetime's Work' by Sally Teague in the Edward Johnston Foundation Newsletter No 3 of July 1998: "[John Woodcock] was born in [27th] August 1924 in Cudworth, Yorkshire, and was educated at Barnsley Holgate Grammar School. At the age of seventeen he went to Barnsley School of Art during which time he studied life-drawing, anatomy, perspective, history of architecture, lettering, writing and illuminating, bookbinding methods of production and styles of design. By the end of his three years there he had shown his talent and became a 'Royal Exhibitioner', as a result of which he was accepted to study at the Royal College of Art. The war interrupted his entry and from 1943 to 1946 he served in the Royal Navy, first as an Ordinary Seaman rising to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant. After the war he took his place at the Royal College where he studied for a further four years ... From the time he left the RCA in 1950 he worked as a freelance designer, calligrapher and engraver, until his retirement. Not only was he a working craftsman but he gave a substantial amount of his time to teaching. He taught part-time at many art schools before taking a full-time position at St. Martin's School of Art from 1965 to 1987. He also taught and gave lectures at many of the calligraphy societies in the UK and overseas."

In 1988 Woodcock founded the North Downs Calligraphers. He wrote Binding Your Own Books and numerous articles for The Scribe , contributed chapters to The Calligrapher's Handbook , and collaborated with Stan Knight on A Book of Formal Scripts . His work is widely exhibited and is held in many permanent collections. He gifted over 3000 items to the Edward Johnston Foundation (now at the CSC), relating to both commissioned and personal work throughout his whole career. Woodcock died on 12 July 2011 in Ipswich.


  • WOO/1 SSI exhibition catalogue, 1981
  • WOO/2 Photocopies of SSI exhibition catalogues, 1951, 1961 and 1968
  • WOO/3 Photocopy of article on 'Creative Marbling and Ebru'
  • WOO/4 Paper tests for resist-dyeing
  • WOO/5 Photographs of work by JW
  • WOO/6 Examples of work by JW
  • WOO/7 Leaflets relating to calligraphic organisations

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Greta Bertram, Curator, Crafts Study Centre, January 2022.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


None expected.


Selected bibliography

Lamb, C.M. and Lamb, G.M. (eds.) 1968. The Calligrapher's Handbook . London: Faber & Faber.

Knight, Stan and Woodcock, John. 1992. A Book of Formal Scripts . London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Woodcock, John. 1956. Binding Your Own Books . Harmondsworth: Penguin.