Wyndham Lewis

Date of birth: 
18 Nov 1882
City of birth: 
Amherst, Nova Scotia
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
07 Mar 1957
Location of death: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1888
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1888-1901, 1908-39, 1945-57


The Rebel Art Centre, 38 Great Ormond Street, London

Flat A, 29 Kensington Garden Studios, Notting Hill Gate, W11 (1945-57)


Wyndham Lewis was born in 1882 to an American father and an English mother of Scotch-Irish descent. The family lived on the Isle of Wight, England, from 1888 to 1893. After his parents separated in 1893, Lewis lived with his mother in England. He was educated at Rugby school, and then at the Slade School of Fine Art in London between 1898 and 1901. After leaving Slade, he travelled in Europe, visiting Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands, and spent much time in Paris.

He returned to England in 1908, and soon established himself as a major avant-garde artist and writer. In 1909, he made his literary debut by publishing stories in the English Review, edited by Ford Madox Hueffer (later Ford). In 1912 Lewis had his art works exhibited in the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition organized by Roger Fry. In 1913, Lewis joined Fry’s Omega Workshops, only to split from the group with several other Omega artists later that year. In 1914 Lewis set up a group of his own, the Rebel Art Centre; this gave rise to a new art movement, Vorticism. The Vorticist journal Blast first appeared in July 1914, under Lewis’s editorship, and was published by the Bodley Head. Ezra Pound, whom Lewis first met in 1908 at the Vienna Café near the British Museum, was a collaborator of the movement, and introduced Lewis in 1915 to T. S. Eliot, who became his close friend. Lewis fought in the First World War and his first novel Tarr was published in 1918.

Later in life, Lewis’s polemical views and his brutal attacks on contemporary artists turned him into an isolated figure. His 1930 novel, The Apes of God, for instance, is a satire of the London intellectual life, featuring caricatures of the Sitwells and some members of the Bloomsbury group. Hitler (1931) is Lewis’s uncritical appraisal of the German dictator, which proved to be highly controversial. During the Second World War, he spent time in the USA and Canada, and returned to England in 1945. He became blind in 1951, but continued to write till his death in 1957.

In 1946, Lewis approached Tambimuttu, who agreed to publish his America and Cosmic Man. Tambimuttu also planned to publish Lewis’s work Château Rex (the original title of Self Condemned) and The Writer and The Absolute, but the delays in publication led Lewis to terminate the contract with Tambimuttu’s Poetry London. America and Cosmic Man was eventually published in 1948 under the imprint of Nicholson and Watson.


Richard Aldington, W. H. Auden, Clive Bell, Laurence Binyon, Roy Campbell, Nancy Cunard, Raymond Drey, T.S. Eliot, Jacob Epstein, Frederick Etchells, Roland Firbank, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Ford Madox Ford, Roger Fry, David Garnett, Spencer Gore, Duncan Grant, Cuthbert Hamilton, Ernest Hemingway, T. E. Hulme, Augustus John, James Joyce, T. E. Lawrence, Marshall McLuhan, Kathleen Mansfield, Filippo Marinetti, Naomi Mitchison, Thomas Sturge Moore, William Orpen, Ezra Pound, John Quinn, Herbert Read, John Rodker, William Rothenstein, Sydney Schiff, The Sitwells, Stephen Spender, Lytton Strachey, Gertrude Stein, A. Symons, M. J. Tambimuttu, Edward Wadsworth, William Walton, H. G. Wells, Rebecca West, Richard Wyndham, W. B. Yeats, Anton Zwemmer.

Published works: 

The Ideal Giant, The Code of a Herdsman, Cantleman’s Spring-Mate (London: Little Review, 1917)

Tarr (London: The Egoist Ltd, 1918)

The Caliph’s Design. Architects! Where Is Your Vortex? (London: The Egoist Ltd 1919)

(with Louis F. Fergusson) Harold Gilman: An Appreciation (London: Chatto & Windus, 1919)

The Art of Being Ruled (London: Chatto & Windus, 1926)

The Lion and the Fox: The Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare (London: Grant Richards, 1927)

Time and Western Man (London: Chatto & Windus, 1927)

The Wild Body: A Soldier of Humour and Other Stories (London: Chatto & Windus, 1927)

The Childermass, Section I (London: Chatto & Windus, 1928)

Paleface: The Philosophy of the ‘Melting Pot’ (London: Chatto & Windus, 1929)

The Apes of God (London: The Arthur Press, 1930)

Satire & Fiction (London: Arthur Press, 1930)

Hitler (London: Chatto & Windus, 1931)

The Diabolical Principle and The Dithyrambic Spectator (London: Chatto & Windus, 1931)

The Doom of Youth (New York: Robert McBride, 1932)

Filibusters in Barbary (London: Grayson and Grayson, 1932)

The Enemy of the Stars (London: Desmond Harmsworth, 1932)

Snooty Baronet (London: Cassell, 1932)

The Old Gang and the New Gang (London: Desmond Harmsworth, 1933)

One-Way Song (London: Faber & Faber, 1933)

Men Without Art (London: Cassell, 1934)

Left Wings Over Europe: or, How to Make a War About Nothing (London: Cape, 1936)

Count Your Dead: They Are Alive! or A new War in the Making (London: Dickson, 1937)

The Revenge for Love (London: Cassell, 1937)

Blasting and Bombardiering (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1937)

The Mysterious Mr. Bull (London: Robert Hale, 1938)

The Jews, Are They Human? (London: Allen & Unwin, 1939)

Wyndham Lewis the Artist from Blast to Burlington House (London: Laidlaw & Laidlaw, 1939)

The Hitler Cult (London: Dent, 1939)

America, I Presume (New York: Howell, Soskin, 1940)

Anglosaxony: The League That Works (Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1941)

The Vulgar Streak (London: Robert Hale, 1941)

America and Cosmic Man (London: Nicholson & Watson, 1948)

Rude Assignment: A Narrative of My Career (London: Hutchinson, 1950)

Rotting Hill (London: Methuen, 1951)

The Writer and the Absolute (London: Methuen, 1952)

Self Condemned (London: Methuen, 1954)

The Demon of Progress in the Arts (London: Methuen, 1954)

The Red Priest (London: Methuen, 1956)

The Human Age, Book 2 Monstre Gai & Book 3 Malign Fiesta (London: Methuen, 1955)

The Human Age, Book 1: Childermass (London: Methuen, 1956)

Contributions to periodicals: 

The American Review

The Architectural Review

Art and Letters

Art and Reason

The Athenaeum


Blast (editor 1914-15)

The British Union Quarterly

The Bookman (‘Nationalism’, 86.516, September 1934)

The Calendar of Modern Letters

The Chapbook

Commercial Art and Industry


The Criterion (‘Art-Chronicle’, 2.8 July 1924)

Current History

The Dial

Drawing and Design

The Egoist


The Enemy (editor 1927-29)

Enemy  (‘Mother  (September 1927- First Quarter 1929) [the review of Katherine Mayo's Mother India]

The English Review


The Graphic

The Hudson Review (‘Perspectives on Lawrence’, 8.4, 1956)

The Kenyon Review

Life and Letters


The Listener (‘When John Bull laughs’, 19.495, 7 July 1938)

The Listener (art critic 1946-51)

The Little Review

The New Age

New Britain

The New Republic

The New Statesman

The New Weekly

New Verse (‘W. B. Yeats’, 1.2, May 1939)


The Outlook ('Kill John Bull with Art’, 34.74, July 1914)

Quarterly Review of Literature (‘Ezra: The Portrait of a Personality’, 5.2, December 1949)

Saturday Night: The Canadian Weekly

Saturday Review of Literature


The Spectator


The Studio

The Sewanee Review (‘The Cosmic Uniform of Peace’, 53, 1945)

Time and Tide (‘Sitwell Circus’, 15.46, 17 November 1934) [review of Aspects of Modern Poetry, edited by Edith Sitwell]

The Times Literary Supplement

The Tramp: An Open Air Magazine


The Twentieth Century

Twentieth Century Verse

The Tyro (editor 1921-22)



The World of Art illustrated


T. S. Eliot, Egoist 5, September 1918, pp. 105-106 (Tarr)

W. A. Thorpe, The New Criterion 4.4, October 1926, pp. 758-764 (The Art of Being Ruled)

Bonamy Dobrée, The Monthly Criterion 5.3, June 1927, pp. 339-343 (The Lion and the Fox)

Rachel Annand Taylor, Spectator 139.5188, 3 December 1927 (The Wild Boy)

Hebert Read, Nation and Athenaeum 42.7, 19 November 1927 ( Time and Western Man)

W. A. Thorpe, The Monthly Criterion 7.1, January 1928, pp. 70-73 (Time and Western Man)

Alan Porter, Spectator 142.5267, 8 June 1929 (Paleface)

Naomi Mitchison, Time and Tide, 19 July 1930, p. 933 (The Apes of God)

Evelyn Waugh, Spectator 149.5432, 6 August 1932 (Filibusters in Barbary)

Stephen Spender, The Criterion 12.47, January 1933, pp. 313-31. (The Enemy of the Stars)

Hugh Gordon Porteus, The Criterion 13.52, April 1934, pp. 492-494 (One-Way Song)

Stephen Spender, Spectator 153.5547, 19 October 1934 (Men Without Art)

D. G. Bridson, The Criterion 14.55, January 1935, pp. 335-337 (Men without Art)

A. Desmond Hawkins, The Criterion 16.62, October 1936, p. 172 (Left Wings over Europe)

Hugh Gordon Porteus, The Criterion 17.66, October 1937, pp. 133-135 (Count Your Dead – They Are Alive/The Revenge for Love)

Hugh Gordon Porteus, The Criterion 17.67, January 1938, pp. 311-314. (Blasting and Bombardiering)

C. E. M. Joad, Spectator 162.5783, 28 April 1939 (The Jews, Are They Human?)

Secondary works: 

Ayers, David, Wyndham Lewis and Western Man (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992)

Campbell, Roy, Wyndham Lewis, ed. by Jeffrey Meyers (Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1985)

Corbett, David Peters (ed.), Wyndham Lewis and the Art of Modern War (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998)

Edwards, Paul, Wyndham Lewis : Painter and Writer (New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, 2000)

Eliot, T. S., ‘Wyndham Lewis’, Hudson Review 10.2 (1957), pp. 167-170

Gasiorek, Andrzej, Wyndham Lewis and Modernism (Tavistock: Northcote House in association with the British Council, 2004)

Gawsworth, John [Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong], Apes, Japes and Hitlerism. A study and bibliography of Wyndham Lewis (London: Unicorn Press, 1932)

Grigson, Geoffrey, A Master of Our Time. A Study of Wyndham Lewis (London: Methuen & Co., 1951)

Jameson, Fredric, Fables of Aggression: Wyndham Lewis, the Modernist as Fascist (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1979)

Jaime, Carmelo Cunchillos (ed.), Wyndham Lewis the Radical: Essays on Literature and Modernity (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007)

Kenner, Hugh, Wyndham Lewis (London: Methuen, 1954)

McLuhan, Marshall, ‘Wyndham Lewis’, Atlantic Monthly 224 (December 1969), pp. 93-98.

Meyers, Jeffrey, The Enemy: A Biography of Wyndham Lewis (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980)

Meyers, Jeffrey (ed.), Wyndham Lewis: A Revaluation: New Essays (London : Athlone Press, 1980)

O’Keeffe, Paul, Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis (London: Jonathan Cape, 2000)

Prichard, William Harrison, Wyndham Lewis (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1968)

Porteus, Hugh Gordon, Wyndham Lewis: A Discursive Exposition (London: Desmond Harmsworth, 1932)

Pound, Omar S. and Grover, Phillip, Wyndham Lewis: A Descriptive Bibliography (Folkestone : Dawson, 1978)

Wagner, Geoffrey Atheling, Wyndham Lewis. A Portrait of the Artist as the Enemy (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957)


‘Mother India’, Enemy 2 (1927), pp. xiii-xx, pp. xiv, xviii


Extract from Wyndham Lewis’s review of Katherine Mayo, Mother India (1927)


She [Katherine Mayo] has had the satisfaction of insulting three hundred million people: and should it be that three hundred million of her ancestors sustained insults, or one of her most prominent ancestors three hundred millions insults, this should do something towards wiping that out. (Such fantastic assumptions come to your mind: for what can make a person want to write such a book?) There have already been mass meetings of protest in India. Her little book is assured of its place in the pantheon of Hate...

and, finally, when she claims that the music of the spinning wheel of Gandhi has been a main inspiration to her in writing her book, she pollutes one of the only saintly figures in the world; and it is to be hoped that he will use all the lustrational resources of his caste-training to cleanse himself of any traces left by the passage of Miss Mayo: also, in connection with Gandhi, she is not so naïve as not to know that her super-American gospel of dogmatic modernist reform (or is it American, or rather should Americans in general be held responsible for their Mayos? I believe not) can scarcely be said to have anything to do with what Gandhi teaches.


The extract sheds an interesting light on Lewis’s view of the British India, and draws attention to the fact that Lewis sees Mayo’s racist accounts of India as a reflection of American domestic politics. This review was incorporated as an Appendix to Lewis’s work on America, Paleface:The Philosophy of the ‘Melting Pot’ (1929)

Archive source: 

Collection Number: 4612, The Wyndham Lewis collection, Rare and Manuscript Collections, Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Mss and letters, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin

Manuscripts, British Library, St Pancras

The Poetry/Rare Books Collection, University Libraries, State University of New York at Buffalo

Letters to Thomas Sturge, Thomas Sturge Moore papers,  Senate House Library, University of London