This book uncovers the work of sculptor William Simmonds, one of the forgotten originals of the Arts and Crafts movement. Inspired by his pastoral surroundings in the Cotswolds, he played a particularly vital role in the movement between the two world wars. After the First World War Simmonds emerged as a master of woodcarving, known for his exquisite oak, pine, ebony and ivory carvings of wild and domestic creatures. He earned his living by making puppets and became Europe’s most renowned puppet master. His wife Eve, a well-known embroiderer in her own right, made the puppets’ costumes and accompanied the puppet shows on the spinet, playing early music discovered by Dolmetsch and pieces by Cecil Sharp and Vaughan Williams.
Simmonds’s circle included the artists William Rothenstein, Edwin Abbey, John Singer Sargent and E.H. Shepard; architects Ernest Gimson, Detmar Blow, and the Barnsley brothers; potters and stained-glass artists Alfred and Louise Powell and Edward Payne; and textile printers Barron and Larcher. Poets Tagore, W.H. Davies, John Masefield and John Drinkwater; writers Max Beerbohm and D.H. Lawrence; and the musicians Lionel Tertis and Violet Gordon Woodhouse with her ‘four husbands’ all played their part. This book documents that lost world and adds another dimension to the story of the extraordinary Violet Gordon-Wodehouse, who lived at Nether Lypiatt Manor a mile from Simmonds’s cottage.