Bernard Leach:
Life and Work

Emmanuel Cooper

Publicaton Date
July 2003
Standard Number
Yale University Press
488 pages

Widely recognized as the father of studio pottery, Bernard Leach (1887–1979) played a pioneering role in creating an identity for artist potters in Britain and around the world. Born in the East (Hong Kong) and educated in the West (England), throughout his life Leach perceived himself as a courier between the disparate cultures. His exquisite pots reflect the inspiration he drew from East and West as well as his response to the basic tenets of modernism—truth to materials, the importance of function to form, and simplicity of decoration. This outstanding biography provides for the first time a vivid and detailed account of Leach’s life and its relation to his art.

Emmanuel Cooper, himself a potter of international reputation, explores Leach’s working methods, the seams of his pottery, his writings and philosophy, his recognition in Japan and Britain, and his continuing legacy, bringing into sharp focus a complex man who captured in his work as a potter the “still center” that always eluded him in his tumultuous personal life

Reviews & Coverage

  • "Emmanuel Cooper is a distinguished potter and writer on the crafts, and his biography of the great potter Bernard Leach is an impressive piece of work, well-informed, thoughtful and clearly written."

    - Journal of William Morris Society Studies
  • ""The Pot is the Man" was one of Leach's favourite maxims. This lavishly illustrated biography does full justice to the personality and achievement of a visionary potter and a complex, intriguing man."

    - Michael Arditti , The Independent, 21 May 2003