Paul Nash (1889-1946) was one of the most important British artists of the twentieth century. An official war artist in both the First and the Second World Wars, his paintings include some of the most definitive artistic visions of those conflicts. This new edition of Nash's unfinished autobiography, Outline, is published to coincide with the Tate's major Paul Nash retrospective and incorporates the previously unpublished 'Memoir of Paul Nash' by his wife Margaret. Nash started writing Outline in the late 1930s, but it was left incomplete on his sudden death in 1946. Nash had struggled to complete the book, finding that he could not get beyond the beginning of the Great War. Outline is, nevertheless, one of the great English literary works of the period, for Nash was a gifted writer. His autobiography offers considerable insights into to the young life of the artist himself, and the development of his personal and very distinctive vision. When eventually published in 1949 his incomplete memoir was supplemented by letters that Nash wrote to his wife from the Western Front in 1917. This new edition includes these letters for the vivid insight they give into Nash's experience of the war. The third element of the new edition is Margaret Nash's revealing (and previously unpublished) 1951 memoir of her husband. What emerges through these different narrative voices and perspectives, enhanced with photographs of Paul and Margaret Nash and reproductions of key works from throughout Nash's career, is a fascinating portrait of a major figure in Modern British art.
David Boyd Haycock is a freelance writer, curator and lecturer, specializing in British art and culture in the first half of the twentieth century. He is the author of A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War.