photo by Juliet Wood 2013

photo by Juliet Wood 2013

About the artist

Simon Brett was born in Windsor in 1943.

He was brought up in London, educated in Yorkshire at Ampleforth College and learned wood engraving from Clifford Webb at Saint Martin's School of Art, London, where he studied principally as a painter (1960-64).

Still thinking of himself as a painter, he travelled to New Mexico, Denmark and Provence (1965-70). Between 1971 and 1989, while teaching at Marlborough College Art School in Wiltshire, he moved from painting to engraving. Between 1981 and 1988, he published books under his own Paulinus Press imprint, winning the Francis Williams Illustration Award (National Book League / Victoria and Albert Museum) for the first of them, The Animals of Saint Gregory, in 1981. Since 1989 he has worked as a self-employed artist.

Commissioned illustration includes The Reader's Digest Bible and, for The Folio Society, such classic titles as Clarissa, Jane Eyre, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, The Folio Golden Treasury, which he also picture edited, Middlemarch, the poetry of Keats, Shelley and Byron, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and The Legends of the Ring and of The Grail.

With Barbarian Press of British Columbia he co-produced one of the major fine print books of the century to date, an edition of Shakespeare’s Pericles which aimed to 'stage the play on the page' by means of some 98 images on over 140 blocks. 

An associate of The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, 1986, and Fellow, 1991, Simon Brett was Chairman of The Society of Wood Engravers from 1986-1992 and remains closely associated with it. He curated two major exhibitions for the Society and one for the British Council. He also writes regularly and probably too much about wood engraving. His world-wide survey An Engraver's Globe, showing the work of over two hundred artists from twenty-eight countries, appeared in 2002 and is available from Primrose Hill Press in the USA. A third, revised edition of his Wood Engraving - How To Do It was published by A. & C. Black in 2010 and is still in print. 

In 2013 a retrospective exhibition An Engraver’s Progress: Simon Brett – Fifty Years of Wood Engraving was seen at the Bankside Gallery London, in Oxford and at the Holburne Museum, Bath with a substantial accompanying catalogue. At the same time, Barbarian Press devoted the fourth of their Endgrain Editions monographs to Simon's work, with over a hundred engravings printed directly from the original blocks. 

Simon Brett is married to the painter Juliet Wood. They still live in Marlborough in Wiltshire. He has three stepsons, a stepdaughter and a daughter of his own.