John Farleigh (16 June 1900 – 30 March 1965), also known as Frederick William Charles Farleigh, was an English wood-engraver, noted for his illustrations of George Bernard Shaw's work The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, which caused controversy when released due to the religious, sexual and racial themes within the writing and John Farleigh's complementary (and risqué) wood engravings commissioned by Shaw for the book. He is also known for his illustrations of D. H. Lawrence's work, The Man Who Died, and for the posters he designed for London County Council Tramways and London Transport. He was also a painter, lithographer, author and art tutor.
Farleigh left school at 14 and enlisted as an apprentice at the Artists' Illustrators Agency in London, applying himself to lettering, wax engravings and black and white drawings, intended for advertising. He also attended drawing classes at the Bolt Court School. In 1918 he was drafted into the army and served until peace was declared in November of the same year. He resumed his apprenticeship and was awarded a government grant enabling him to enrol for three years at the London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts (later the Central School of Art and Design). The teaching staff included Bernard Meninsky and Noel Rooke who trained him in wood-engraving. Between 1922 and 1925 Farleigh was an art teacher at Rugby School, thereafter returning to London and assuming a post at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, where he taught antique and still-life drawing and later, illustration. Here he tutored some extremely talented wood-engravers, including Monica Poole.
Farleigh was a founder member and chairman of the Crafts Centre of Great Britain. In 1941 the British Council commissioned him to design the title page of the catalogue for the Exhibition of Modern British Crafts. The world-famous writer Judith Kerr said that he was the person who taught her most when she was doing evening classes at St Martin's School of Art during the war. (Judith Kerr´s Creatures, 2013 Harper Collins p.30)
Farleigh's work was widely exhibited - Leicester Galleries, Manchester City Art Gallery, Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, Royal Scottish Academy and Cooling and Sons Gallery. His wood-engravings appeared in the 1925 Golden Cockerel Press edition of Selected Essays by The Reverend Jonathan Swift and in the books published by the Shakespeare Head Press in the late 1920s. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers in 1937 and a full member in 1948.
Works featuring Farleigh's illustrations
A comprehensive list falls outside the scope of this article, but may be seen here.
- Graven Image - (Macmillan, London, 1939)
- It Never Dies - (The Sylvan Press, London, 1946)
- Monica Poole, The Wood Engravings of John Farleigh - (Gresham Books, Henley-on-Thames, 1985)