Jonathan Mallinson

Published On


Page Range

pp. 327–356


  • English

Print Length

30 pages

14. 1939–45: Adversity and Resolution

  • Jonathan Mallinson (author)
This chapter examines Moorcroft’s resourceful defence of his independence during the war, when most factories were either absorbed into so-called ‘nucleus’ firms under the Concentration of Industry scheme, or closed down entirely. With a steadily dwindling staff, and the ever-present threat of losing his premises, he held fast to his principles. Correspondence reveals that he was widely regarded as an inspiring example of dogged individuality, and that the sensitivity of his designs was appreciated all the more at this time of upheaval and uncertainty. We consider Moorcroft’s response to the restrictions of wartime legislation which prohibited the production of decorated pottery (except for export to North America). His Austerity ware was hailed as another model of design for the modern age, noticed by The Times and praised by both Read and Pevsner. But for all this acclaim, rising costs and an acute shortage of labour inevitably created exceptional commercial pressure. It was a period of particular tension, too, in his relationship with Liberty’s, who were no less vulnerable than Moorcroft to the economic consequences of war. At his death, just five months after VE Day, obituaries both national and international celebrated his distinction, highlighting to different extents his achievements as a potter, manufacturer and artist.


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.