The Old Print Shop

Clare Leighton


Clare Leighton was an English-American artist, writer, and illustrator, best known for her wood engravings. Born in London on April 12, 1898, she was the daughter of Robert Leighton (1858-1934) and Marie Connor Leighton (1865-1941), both authors. Her early efforts at painting were encouraged by her parents and her uncle Jack Leighton, an artist and illustrator. In 1915, she began formal studies at the Brighton College of Art and later trained at the Slade School of Fine Art (1921-23), and the Central School of Arts and Crafts, where she studied wood engraving under Noel Rooke. 

During the late 1920s and 1930s, Clare Leighton visited the United States on several lecture tours. In 1939 she emigrated to the US and became a naturalized citizen in 1945. Over the course of her prolific career, she wrote and illustrated numerous books praising the virtues of the countryside and the people who worked the land. During the 1920s and 1930s, as the world around her became increasingly technological, industrial, and urban, Leighton portrayed rural working men and women. In the 1950s she created designs for Steuben Glass, Wedgwood plates, and several stained-glass windows for churches in New England. Leighton produced more than 900 different wood engravings during her lifetime.