Walter Spradbery was born in East Dulwich, London on March 28 1889. He studied at Walthamstow Art School, and then worked as an art teacher. He also worked as an art teacher, exhibiting at the Royal Academy, a linocut artist, and a poster designer, mainly for London Transport. Spradbery was a lifelong pacifist, serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps in the First World War, whilst an official war artist, and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for leading a stretcher party under fire. In 1929 Spradbery married Dorothy D’Orsay. Spradbery’s life story appeared in Uphill (published by the Stamford Hill Boys’ and Girls’ clubs) in late 1943. The article linked his poster work with the work he did for youth clubs. ‘The writer describes how his great love of trees has influenced all his work. He attributes it to the fact that Spradbery has lived since childhood on the fringes of Epping Forest’. In 1944, Spradbery designed his last series for London Transport ‘The Proud City’, for which he chose the quotations. Art and Industry noted that his work would have already been known ‘to all connoisseurs of good commercial art, through his characteristic posters for the Southern and London North Eastern Railways’. Spradbery died on December 31 1969, and a memorial exhibition of his work was held at the William Morris Gallery, London, in 1970.
Information taken from: Darracott, J. and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1981 (1972), p.54, ‘Life-Story of W.E.Spradbery’, Advertiser’s Weekly, December 9 1943, p.258, ‘A New L.P.T.B. Poster Series “The Proud City”‘, Art and Industry, Vol. 38, No.224, February 1945, pp.57-58, London Transport Museum Database, February 2000, taken from Riddell, 1994
Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.