Jonathan Mallinson

Published On


Page Range

pp. 207–230


  • English

Print Length

24 pages

10. 1926–28: Re-negotiating the Future

  • Jonathan Mallinson (author)
These years saw increasing commercial pressure and acute personal setback. The General Strike and the extended miners’ stoppage of 1926 caused severe hardship in the industry, but Moorcroft’s resilience and resourcefulness saw him through once again. Ledgers show his decline in turnover and rising costs, but they also reveal his success, unlike the majority of potteries, in avoiding both short-time and pay cuts. In 1926, too, he suffered the devastating loss of his wife, a crucial figure of support and advice. For all these challenges, the period was characterised by renewed and often radical creativity. Moorcroft continued to experiment with designs and glazes, attracting particular critical attention for his flambé wares, described in one review as ‘poems in colour’. But just as significantly, the press continued to note the accessibility of his ware, affordable and functional as well as artistic. This is particularly significant when pottery was dividing between popular commercial production, epitomised by the designs of Clarice Cliff, and the more exclusive world of studio ceramics. Leach’s essay ‘A Potter’s Outlook’ (1928) sought to bridge that gap, arguing for the social responsibility of the craft potter; Moorcroft, in his own distinctive way, was achieving that ambition already. The chapter examines, too, two major acknowledgements of Moorcroft’s status and achievement. In 1928, he was awarded the Royal Warrant by Queen Mary, a mark both of the quality of his ware and of its national value. In the same year, he renegotiated his contract with Liberty’s, and, crucially, his relationship with the firm which bore his name. Ownership of his designs was assigned to him, not to the firm (as was the case in the 1913 contract), underlining their recognition of his inalienable individuality as a potter.


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.