‘Some people are snooty about illustrating grown-up fiction, vapouring on about how their imaginations will generate all the images they need. The riposte to that is Dickens and Phiz, Surtees and Leech, Sherlock Holmes and Sidney Paget. In the past The Folio Society has added to this roll of honour with such achievements as Joan Hassall’s wood engravings for Jane Austen, Simon Brett’s for a gamut running from Keats and Shelley to Legends of the Grail, Charles Keeping’s drawings for the 16-volume Dickens, Edward Bawden’s linocuts for Malory’s Morte d’Arthur. Folio threw a lifeline to illustrators as work for advertisers and magazines began to dry up from the 1950s, and it continues to be the one firm regularly commissioning pictures for something other than children’s books.’
Roger Hudson writing on The Folio Society in Issue 37 of Slightly Foxed. His article was illustrated with Simon Brett’s wood engraving from the Folio edition of Legends of the Grail.
About the contributor
Simon Brett was born in Windsor in 1943 and studied as a painter at Saint Martin’s School of Art. He moved on to wood engraving while teaching at Marlborough College Art School. Between 1981 and 1988, he published books under his own Paulinus Press imprint, and won the Francis Williams Illustration Award for The Animals of Saint Gregory. Since then he has worked as a self-employed artist, and has illustrated classic works for The Folio Society including Jane Eyre, Middlemarch and the poetry of Keats, Shelley and Byron. He was Chairman of The Society of Wood Engravers until 1992, and remains closely associated with it. He also writes on the history, practice and condition of the art, and his book Wood Engraving — How To Do It was published in 1994.