Allen William Seaby Biography

Allen William Seaby




Allen William Seaby (1867-1953), watercolorist, woodcut artist, author, and illustrator, was born in London, England on May 25, 1867, the son of a cabinet maker and carpenter. He studied color woodcut with Frank Morley Fletcher, a pioneer in England of woodblock color printing by Japanese methods, at the School of Art, Reading University. Seaby joined the staff of the University of Reading in 1899 where he became professor of fine art and later head of the art department. He was professor between 1920 and 1933.

Seaby mastered the techniques of color woodcut and became one of its leading exponents. He won a gold medal for color woodcut in Milan in 1906 and was a founding member of the Engravers and Printers in Colour and the Colour Print Guild.

Seaby illustrated many books on art instruction, nature, ornithology, and ponies, including Drawing for Art Students and Illustrators; British Ponies. Running wild and ridden; Blondel the minstrel; Art in the Life of Mankind: a survey of its achievements from the earliest times; and Colour Printing with Linoleum and Wood Blocks.

In his 1919 book, Modern Woodcuts and Lithography by British and French Artists, Malcolm C. Salaman wrote the following: "Mr. Allen W. Seaby, at the University College, Reading, School of Art, is, in his turn, exercising an important influence as teacher, inspiring with his enthusiasm and example a group of most promising students to expression through the wood-block colour-print. In his pictorial studies of bird life, Mr. Seaby accomplishes delightfully varied colour-harmonies, and his prints are among the most desirable of their kind." Seaby also had a great interest in wild ponies and his pony books were published between 1923 and 1949, and like many other interwar writers on equine themes, he produced both fiction and factual material

Seaby wrote and illustrated six fiction titles about native ponies in their habitats between 1923 and 1948. Skewbald: The New Forest Pony (1923) and Sons of Skewbald (1937) are set in the New Forest. First published in 1928, Exmoor Lass contains six short stories exploring the lives of five of Britain’s native pony breeds: the Exmoor, the Shetland, the New Forest, the Dartmoor and the Welsh. Dinah: The Dartmoor Pony (1935) is perhaps the most similar of Seaby’s novels to the typical formulaic pony story: separated from her dam as a foal, Dinah finds her way onto a farm where twelve-year-old Dolly looks after her, eventually breaking her in, before winning two red rosettes in a local gymkhana. Sheltie: The Story of a Shetland Pony (1939) describes a young riding school owner's attempt to ride home from the Highlands to the South of England, leading Sheltie. Mona: The Welsh Pony (1948), set along the Mawddach estuary near Abermaw (Barmouth) and in the hills to the north, tells Mona’s story from her birth on her native moorland, through her breaking-in and usage, and into older age.

Allen Seaby died in Reading, UK on July 28, `953