Laurence (christened ‘Lawrence’) Town (1895 -1969) was a designer book-binder and teacher from Burley-in-Wharfedale. He designed and made many fine bindings and was the author of an authoritative book aimed at newcomers to this art and craft.
He was educated at Ilkley Grammar School then attended Bradford Art College and studied a range of art and crafts skills, including book-binding under the tutelage of Charles Turner. Laurence taught art and crafts at the Saltaire Road Senior Boys School, Saltaire, and introduced book-binding as a subsidiary subject. In a 1951 interview for the Dalesman, Laurence told Bill Mitchell, the editor: ‘Everyone has made me into a book-binder. I haven’t done it against my will, mind you, and I never regret taking it up.’ (Dalesman, vol.13, no.7, p.310).
He became a craft lecturer at St. John’s College, York, and taught book-binding there for over 20 years. He was influenced by the designs and techniques of past Master Craftsmen, including William Morris and Cobden Sanderson.
In addition to teaching, he also designed and made a range full leather bindings, now in private collections and libraries (see example below).
In 1951, Faber and Faber published his book, ‘Book Binding by Hand for Students and Craftsmen’, and this went into a second edition, with a world-wide readership.