The Contributors, Charles Mozley: Part 1

part 1

Continuing the series of essays written by my late father, Rowley Atterbury, about the people that he felt had contributed to the graphic arts during his lifetime. Originally written in 1990 and revised and updated in A Good Idea at the Time, a History of Westerham Press published in 2010 by Hurtwood Press.


Introduced by Francis Atterbury

Of all the Westerham Press ‘regulars’, Charles was a favourite. He remains an inspiration to me today with his astonishing ability to create image and colour from nothing. I once saw him clamber onto multi-colour offset presses and smear new inks across the rollers that somehow managed to create just the right colour, and once I watched as he drew in crayon onto four blank offset plates which, when run on the press, made one of his typical illustrations in perfect registration and perfect colour – who could do that now? And, perhaps more importantly, who knew you could do it at all?


charles mozley by rowley atterbury

For some forty years Charles Mozley strode into printers demanding in his deep gravel voice they stop whatever they happened to be doing and concentrate on his latest project. In passing through the factory he would look over any work that happened to catch his eye and make appropriate informed suggestions. For example, ‘change the paper’, ‘rubbish’ (if work by Barnett Freedman, or Francis Bacon or others to whom he had taken a quite irrational dislike), ‘let me do it – move over’ – ‘get out of the way!’ A man of enormous talent, his contribution to the graphic arts was immense. He was a fund of original thinking. Book jackets, book illustrations, posters and all kinds of follies would be perfected and improved by Charles using anything from a cigarette end to a felt pen for his work.

Stories about him are legendary. Painting, was particularly dear to his heart, and he was talented and prolific at it. His contribution to the Westerham Press was enormous, from the Limited Editions Club of New York and the City Music Society to witty but savage cartoons of his eminent contemporaries. But he towered as a book illustrator, particularly his portrayal, or rather betrayal of Noel Streatfeild in various autobiographies! Ellic Howe, George Rainbird, Berthold Wolpe, Lord Goodman, Ted Gowin, Cyril Sweett, Max Rayne, Will Carter and many others were his constant characters in menus and other jobbing work. Charles had a very short fuse: there was a memorable occasion when somebody at Faber’s had the audacity to suggest that his book jacket pictured an episode that could not be found in the book, to which he replied that he was not paid enough money to read the book as well.

Continue to part 2 here


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