Yale snaps up biography of artist John Craxton

John Craxton working on Pastoral for P.W., 1948 Photograph by Felix Man

Yale University Press will publish the first biography of British artist John Craxton (1922–2009) in spring 2021.

Mark Eastment, editorial director at Yale University Press London, acquired world rights (excluding Greece) from David Godwin at David Godwin Associates.

John Craxton: A Life of Gifts will be written by the trustee of the John Craxton Estate, Ian Collins, and will come a year ahead of the centenary of Craxton’s birth.

Craxton spent much of his early adulthood in Greece and was well travelled. His contemporaries included Edmund White, Lucian Freud, Patrick Leigh Fermor and David Attenborough. As well as a painter, Craxton was also a book illustrator in the Neo-Romantic style. The biography is compiled using letters from the artist’s life, as well as from interviews conducted before his death.

Collins commented: “John Craxton banned any book on his hedonistic life from 1948 onwards, so I began to make notes for mine in secret on the day we met. We became friends, he relaxed his veto and we recorded many interviews before his death in November 2009. Craxton was erudite, anarchic and hugely entertaining and it has been the honour and pleasure of my life to be allowed to tell his story.”

Eastment said: “There is a growing interest in this fascinating artist and we felt now was the right time for a fully-fledged biography to be published on Craxton. His work is being reassessed and appreciated by more and more people.”

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