Fiona MacCarthy

I’m really sad to read on Twitter of the death of Fiona MacCarthy – a wonderful, charming, life-enhancing writer and gregarious friend, who started life as a deb (see The Last Curtsey), then went to Oxford, worked as the design correspondent of the Guardian in the 1960s, married David Mellor, moved to Sheffield and, in 1989, published her startling and revelatory biography of Eric Gill, based on love of the subject and archival research. This was followed by William Morris in 1994, which won the Wolfson History Prize, Stanley Spencer in 1997, Byron in 2002 (she did a small exhibition about Byron at the NPG), Burne-Jones in 2012 and, most recently, Walter Gropius. All her books were enlivened by her deep interest in people and their foibles and a passionate engagement in the art and practice of design. So sad to lose her.


4 thoughts on “Fiona MacCarthy

  1. joan says:

    I think it is easy with the passage of years to underestimate just how shocking the Eric Gill book was to those of us who had grown up visiting his stations of the cross at Westminster Cathedral. Now that the Catholic Church is mired in continuing revelations of abuse (most recently Jean Vanier the founder of the l’Arche communities) nothing seems that shocking any more. Fiona MacCarthy’s book, wonderful in all sorts of ways, was of special value in alerting us to look more closely at religiously inspired communities and the philosophy that was underpinning them – and the ugly personal behaviour that this could support.

    As a regular visitor to Hathersage and the David Mellor factory shop during the 1990’s I always used to feel a bit jealous of Fiona MacCarthy and the life she had carved out for herself. It was clearly a life well lived and her death a great loss for her friends and family as well as her readers.

  2. Yes, a terrible loss. I loved Fiona, and her husband, David Mellor. very much. She was a wonderful friend as well as being a brilliant writer, and the world she and David created at Hathersage was very special. She leaves a great hole in many people’s lives, as well as in the world of art books

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