Leon Underwood was born in London. He studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London and at the Royal College of Art, London and later at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Primarily a sculptor, his significance in the history of wood engraving is that in the art school he ran in London, a group of young artists discovered engraving for themselves, as he was inspirational teacher of drawing who greatly influenced their style. The group included Gertrude Hermes, Blair Hughes-Stanton and Henry Moore. Although only a few years older than his students Underwood shared their sense of discovery and made a number of engravings himself, and, later, many coloured prints remarkable for their technical command. He discovered African art through a British Council sponsored lecture tour of West Africa and Harvest Corn in the British Council collection reflects this interest.