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Illustrations: Fantasy and characterisation

Mozley illustrated some one hundred books over fifty years from 1938 of which forty were for children. He also illustrated and designed the covers for a further three hundred. This impressive output is often confused with being prolific. He could work fast and intensely – when in the mood. He enjoyed the many relationships that he built with publishers, printers, typographers and authors. Compared to the art world, which had a very English outlook until the 1960s, the literary world had a more international ambience. Mozley enjoyed both illustrating and the combination of designing and integrating unique lettering into his book covers. In this regard, he was stimulated by the competitive rivalry with his close friends and fellow artists, Barnett Freedman, Edward Ardizzone and calligrapher and typographer, Berthold Wolpe.

He agreed with Ardizzone’s often-expressed view that not all artists could illustrate but all illustrators were artists. He often became somewhat frustrated at the frequent requests to convey scenes and personalities of the nineteenth century. Too many top hats and bustles! His success in this field was seen to somewhat overshadow his work in other media during the 1960s. Indeed, it was during that decade that he produced his five works for George Macy’s Limited Editions Club and the majority of his illustrative work. However, Mozley was always able to balance his time and efforts between his commissioned work and that which was inspired by his free inspiration and expression, usually paintings in oil.

Charles Mozley was commissioned by nearly all the principal publishing houses and was often to be seen at book fairs. He could become engrossed in the mechanics and adaptability of lithographic reproduction. For this he became good friends with a number of the designers, artisans and technicians of the printing and publishing world.

It is little wonder that Rowley Atterbury, founder of the Westerham Press, should turn to his friend for advice when confronted with the awesome obligation of producing for The Sunday Times a facsimile edition of Toulouse-Lautrec’s iconic lithographic work ‘Elles’. In his autobiographical tale, ‘It Seemed Right at the Time’, Atterbury, with his usual sense of wit, recounts his visit to France with Mozley to purchase the nearest possible match to the paper used by Toulouse-Lautrec. The Folio production was hugely successful, but for Mozley the attention to detail was out of respect and homage to his idol.

The pull of friendships: performing to publishing

For Mozley using his artistic skills to communicate and create evocative images was a passion that drove him to unceasingly paint, draw and design. Although he sought to be paid well for his efforts, the opportunity to create images was always greater than his needs for monetary rewards. Working for or with people he liked was paramount. He enjoyed the company of those from many walks of life. As he saw fewer opportunities to design independently in the worlds of the performing arts and in advertising his skills were sought after from publishers of books, magazines and newspapers. His first illustrations had been commissioned as early as 1938 and there was a steady stream from a variety of publishing houses as recovery took hold after the War. With rationing and the slow economic growth during the early post-war years, publishers were initially reluctant to promote illustrated editions of adult literature. Nevertheless, Mozley illustrated some ten books between 1946 and 1961.

In 1962, Charles Mozley signed his name in the Visitors Book of the printers, W. S. Cowell adding the remark “the best lithographer in England”. Conceit, arrogance or a statement of fact. The book already contained the signatures of many of his fellow artists, the Heads of many Publishing Houses and numerous book designers and graphic designers. Mozley was sure of his own abilities and delighted in being provocative. He understood every detail and nuances that an auto lithograph can produce. Cowells was printing the lithographs Mozley had drawn for Maupassant’s ‘The Tellier House’. 1962 was also the year of his first book for George Macy’s Limited Edition Club, a much-lauded production of George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman. The illustrations were used by The Heritage Club in the same year and again, in 1990, Eastman’s produced a new edition with the same work. A second Limited Edition book came in 1964 and a third in 1966. An edition of the 1749 novel by John Cleland, ‘Fanny Hill’ was commissioned in 1968 but failed to go ahead due to the lack of suitable co-publisher. A copy of the lithographs and mono-print illustrations are held by the V&A and British Museum. However, in 1971, the LEC did go ahead with a selection of Pushkin short stories, ‘The Captain’s Daughter’. On this occasion Mozley not only illustrated with lithographs, but also designed the book and typography.


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