Jonathan Mallinson

Published On


Page Range

pp. 137–162


  • English

Print Length

26 pages

7. 1914–18: The Art of Survival

  • Jonathan Mallinson (author)
This chapter follows Moorcroft through the war, and examines his different strategies for survival and development in challenging conditions. He is seen to expand his commercial outlets, both at home and abroad, taking full advantage of the newly established British Industries Fair(s); his displays attracted the attention of new high-end retailers, and, very significantly, of Queen Mary. We witness, too, his resourcefulness in securing government contracts to supply inhalers and other functional objects, enabling him to minimise (though not to avoid) the depletion of his workforce. Extensive correspondence and other contemporary documents reveal the impact of rising costs, shortage of materials, increasingly slow payment of invoices, and the loss of labour through conscription or compulsory redeployment; such pressures were exacerbated, by cruel coincidence, by the death of his (one) thrower. We explore, too, the significance of Moorcroft’s commitment to handcraft against the background of the Design and Industries Association, founded in 1915 in response to a growing concern about the need for more mechanised modes of production in a post-war world. Moorcroft explored the viability of creating by hand pottery both beautiful and useful in a modern industrial world. In the course of the war, his work was commercially successful, his sensitivity to the public mood eloquently expressed in his designs, and regularly praised in reviews. He was treading his own individual path, well prepared to confront the economic and cultural turbulence of the 1920s.


Jonathan Mallinson

Emeritus Professor of French at University of Oxford

Jonathan Mallinson is Emeritus Professor of Early Modern French Literature and Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. He has written extensively on prose fiction, comedy and satire of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and has edited works by Molière, Voltaire and Graffigny. His interest in British art pottery and its reception dates back many years.