William Marshall: The Beginnings of a Book

Posted by on Apr 16, 2016 in research | 2 Comments
William Marshall: The Beginnings of a Book

William Marshall: First Meeting

I first met William Marshall (Bill to those who knew him) in the late 1990s when I was becoming interested in studio pottery. I went to his pottery, nestled off the main road in Lelant, to try and meet the potter whose work had really caught my eye. I’d been pouring over The Leach Legacy1, and the aesthetics of his pots resonated strongly with me. Our first meeting was more of a passing conversation, and he really wasn’t too sure about some of the pot pictures that I’d taken to show him, but over the years I took to regularly visiting Bill when I was on holiday in Cornwall. His attitude and approach to pottery was direct and sincere.

Nationally Important

Bill’s reticence for publicity means that there is little existing material that documents his life, work, skills and knowledge2. I realised, through our conversations and his pots, that he was not only significant to me but also important to the wider context of 20th century studio pottery development. For example, Bill was the first apprentice taken on at the Leach Pottery where he went on to become the foreman of Standard Ware production. He also co-authored many of Bernard Leach’s larger pots. With this in mind, I was careful to try and document our conversations. I also tried to gradually build a picture of significant pots and of some of the people who knew Bill and/or collected his work.

William Marshall: A New Book

I’ve got to a point in life where I can now allocate some time towards extending my research and writing the long-overdue book about William Marshall. I’ve begun by talking to Bill’s family and reaching out to collectors to identify and photograph his pots.

My current aim is to produce a publication which tells something of the story of Bill’s life and work alongside high-quality images of his pots. The book will be full-colour and perhaps in the region of 168 pages.

So, I thought I’d share my beginnings with you and welcome you to contact me if you have any resources you would like to share or contribute to the publication. It would also be great to read your comments below or email me if you prefer.

  • William Marshall: Chawan. Image courtesy of Oakwood Ceramics.
  • William Marshall: Tea Bowl. Image courtesy of Oakwood Ceramics.
  • William Marshall: Yunomis. Image courtesy of Oakwood Ceramics.
All images courtesy of Oakwood Ceramics3.

  1. The Leach Legacy: St Ives Pottery and its Influence
  2. William Marshall: Organic Vision
  3. Oakwood Ceramics – an online gallery specialising in pots made in the Leach-Oriental tradition


  1. Bob Ricketts

    Dear Matt,
    It is interesting to read your comments.
    As a collector of Early (pre 17th century) Chinese ceramics and with an interest
    in the influence these have had on Bernard Leachs work,it came as something of a surprise to me when I was overcome by rugged simplicity and spontaneity of William Marshalls work.The “surprise” due to the fact W.M. pots were closely aligned with the Japanese/Korean style.
    I have been collecting His pots for the past several years and have I believe some notable examples, which You are welcome to see and photograph if suitable.

    Kind regard

    • Matt Tyas

      Dear Bob,
      Great to hear from you – thank you for taking the time to get in touch. I love some of those older Chinese pots – I have a few myself, but only a small collection really. I didn’t understand, until much later, how some of Bill’s pots were in accord with Japanese and Korean aesthetics but it’s their ruggedness and simplicity that I was drawn to – without understanding what ‘it’ was. I would love to know more about your collection – thank you for the offer. I shall send you an email soon.
      Best wishes, Matt.


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