Tom Poulton

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Tom Poulton
Thomas Leycester Poulton

(1897-02-03)3 February 1897
United Kingdom
Died1 April 1963(1963-04-01) (aged 66)
United Kingdom
OccupationIllustrator and artist

Tom Poulton (1897–1963) was a British magazine and medical illustrator who provided artwork for a range of publications including the British Journal of Surgery and The Radio Times. After his death it was discovered that he had also secretly produced hundreds of sketches and finished drawings of men and women engaged in a wide range of uninhibited sexual activity. In the 1990s and 2000s many of these were collected and made available to the public by publishing houses specialising in erotic art[1]

Early life[edit]

Poulton was born in February 1897 and in 1914 won a scholarship to Slade School of Fine Art in Bloomsbury, Central London where he was taught by renowned artist and teacher Henry Tonks.[1] At Slade he met acclaimed lutenist Diana Poulton née Kibblewhite whom he married in 1923.[2]


Poulton was commissioned to produce artwork for many magazines and books including, for Nonesuch Press new versions of A Plurality of Worlds by Fontenelle[3] and Isaac Walton's The Compleat Angler.[4] He worked almost entirely with a soft pencil but occasionally used pen and ink.[1] For a time he was employed as a cartographer for the Ministry of Defence.[5]

Personal Life and Erotica[edit]

Whilst stationed in Khajuraho, India Poulton came into contact with the Kama Sutra which prompted a fascination with erotic art. During his lifetime he produced many erotic drawings, usually on commission from various patrons, notably playboy yachtsman Beecher Moore who sold a large collection of Poulton's work in the early 1990s. His erotica is very much of its time, the clothing is very clearly from the 1940s and 50s and the pictures are characterised by an exuberance and joie de vivre on the part of the participants which arguably sets him apart from many other artists in the genre.

Throughout his life he kept all of his erotic work secret for fear that it would be seized and he would be arrested by the police. He lived in Soho, London for many years and was a member of the Double Crown Club but at the time of his death he was living alone in a flat in Camden.


  • Maclean, Jamie, The Secret Art of an English Gentleman: Tom Poulton (Cologne: Taschen, 2006, ISBN 3-8228-3062-3)
  • Poulton, Tom, An artists secret sketchbook (London: The Erotic Print Society, 1999, ISBN 1-898998-11-6)
  • Maclean, Jamie, Tom Poulton: The Lost Drawings (London: The Erotic Print Society, 2000, ISBN 978-1-898998-23-5)


  1. ^ a b c Maclean, Jamie, The Secret Art of an English Gentleman: Tom Poulton (Cologne: Taschen, 2006, ISBN 3-8228-3062-3
  2. ^ Curry, Donna: Diana Poulton – An Appreciation of Her Life > (LSA Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, February 1996) (retrieved 25 November 2011)
  3. ^ Fontenelle, Bernard de, A Plurality of Worlds (London: Nonesuch Press, 1929, ASIN B000WWAUPQ)
  4. ^ Walton, Isaac, 'The Compleat Angler (London: Nonesuch Press, 1929)
  5. ^ Poulton, Tom, An artists secret sketchbook(London: The Erotic Print Society, ISBN 1-898998-11-6

External links[edit]