Sir Herbert Read

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Sir Herbert Read, 1893–1968, English poet and critic. His studies at the Univ. of Leeds were interrupted by World War I, in which he served with a Yorkshire regiment. After the war he completed his education. His first volume of poems, Naked Warriors (1919), treats the horrors of war. An advocate of free verse, he published poetry all his life; his last volume of Collected Poems was published in 1966. Read was an important critic of both art and literature, and he influenced the treatment of these subjects in British education. As an art critic he defined and advocated various modern art movements and aided the careers of many British artists, notably Henry Moore. His works of art criticism include The Innocent Eye (1933), Art and Industry (1934), Art and Society (1936), Education Through Art (1943), Art Now (1948), The Grass Roots of Art (1961), and Art and Alienation: The Role of the Artist in Society (1967). As a literary critic, Read reasserted the importance of the 19th-century English Romantic authors, most notably in The True Voice of Feeling: Studies in English Romantic Poetry (1953). His other works of literary criticism include Form in Modern Poetry (1932), Coleridge as Critic (1949), and Phases of English Poetry (1950). Read also wrote many essays, some of which are collected in The Cult of Sincerity (1969).

See his autobiographical The Contrary Experience (1974); studies by W. T. Harder (1972) and G. Woodcock (1972).

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Read, Sir Herbert Edward (1893–1968). British critic and writer. He was a leading supporter of Modernism in the 1930s, and edited Unit One: The Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture (1934). His The Meaning of Art (1931), Art Now (1933), Art and Industry (1934), Surrealism (1936), Art and Society (1936), and Education Through Art (1943) were reprinted several times, and were very influential in spreading the gospel of Modernism in the English-speaking world. His Concise History of Modern Painting (1959) and Concise History of Modern Sculpture (1964) further enhanced his reputation. He edited the Burlington Magazine (1933–9)


Chilvers, Osborne, & Farr (eds.) (1988);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
Jane Turner (1996)