Michael Ayrton

Michael Ayrton
Michael Ayrton

Sculpture of Talos on Guildhall Street in Cambridge
Born Michael A. Gould
20 February 1921(1921-02-20)
St Pancras, London, England
Died 17 November 1975(1975-11-17) (aged 54)
Hampstead, London, England
Nationality British
Occupation artist, writer, painter, printmaker, sculptor, critic, broadcaster and novelist
Spouse Elisabeth Evelyn Balchin née Walshe (1910-1991) (m. 1956–1975) «start: (1956)–end+1: (1976)»"Marriage: Elisabeth Evelyn Balchin née Walshe (1910-1991) to Michael Ayrton" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Ayrton)
Parents Gerald Gould & Barbara Ayrton

Michael Ayrton (20 February 1921 – 17 November 1975) was an English artist and writer, known as a painter, printmaker and sculptor, and also as a critic, broadcaster and novelist. He was a stage and costume designer, working with John Minton on the 1942 John Gielgud production of Macbeth from age 19; and a book designer and illustrator, for Wyndham Lewis's The Human Age trilogy and William Golding. He also collaborated with Constant Lambert. His work is in several important collections including the Tate Gallery, London, National Portrait Gallery, London, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fry Art Gallery, Essex.


Life and career

Beginning in 1961, Michael Ayrton wrote and created many works associated with the myths of the Minotaur and Daedalus, the legendary inventor and maze builder, including bronze sculpture and the pseudo-autobiographical novel "The Maze Maker" (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967). He also wrote and illustrated "Tittivulus Or The Verbiage Collector", an account of the efforts of a minor devil to collect idle words. He was the author of several non-fiction works on fine art, including "Aspects of British Art" (Collins, 1947) [1].

Ayrton was born Michael A. Gould in St Pancras, London [2], his parents being Gerald Gould and Barbara Ayrton; he took his mother's maiden name professionally. In 1952, he married Elisabeth Evelyn Walshe (1910-1991), the former wife of author Nigel Balchin [3]. Elisabeth Ayrton was a novelist and writer on cookery. He died in 1975 at Hampstead, London shortly after an entertaining meeting with two young artists from Chingford [4].

In 1977 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery organised a major retrospective exhibition of his work which subsequently went on tour. [5]

Several paintings are currently on display in the Old Bank Hotel in Oxford.

Selected writings

  • 1946: British Drawing. London: Collins ASIN B00149X1DM
  • 1947: Aspects of British Art. London: Collins
  • 1953: Tittivulus or The verbiage collector. London: Max Reinhardt
  • 1967: The Maze Maker: a novel. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston


  1. ^ http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person.php?LinkID=mp05037
  2. ^ GRO Register of Births: MAR 1921 1b 45 PANCRAS - Michael A. Gould, mmn = Ayrton
  3. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: DEC 1952 5d 585 MARYLEBONE - Ayrton = Balchin or Walshe
  4. ^ GRO Register of Deaths: DEC 1975 12 2044 HAMPSTEAD - Michael Ayrton, DoB 21 Feb 1921
  5. ^ T. G. Rosenthal, ‘Ayrton, Michael (1921–1975)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Cannon-Brookes, Peter (1978) Michael Ayrton: an illustrated commentary. Birmingham: Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
  • Hopkins, Justine (1994) Michael Ayrton: a biography. London: Deutsch
  • Laver, James (1948) Paintings by Michael Ayrton. London: Grey Walls Press
  • Nyenhuis, Jacob E. (2003) Myth and the Creative Process: Michael Ayrton and the myth of Daedalus, the Maze Maker. Detroit: Wayne State University Press
  • Snow, C. P. (1962) Michael Ayrton: drawings & sculpture

External links