John Austen (1886 – 1948)
John Austen was born in Kent. He trained originally as a carpenter before moving to London in 1906 to study art. He returned to Kent in the 1920s, and taught at Thanet School of Art. He exhibited works at the St George’s Gallery, London, but is best known as a book illustrator. His early works in pen and ink were reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley. Austen later turned to wood engraving for the illustrations to Cooper’s Poets in Pinafores, 1931, published by Alston Rivers.
An intaglio process whereby lines are cut into a metal or wood plate using an engraving tool (a burin), which is pushed in front of the hand to achieve a sharp controlled incision capable of great delicacy. This technique requires a great deal of control and is not suited to spontaneous mark-making.