The best books on Paul Nash and the impact of WW11 on artists who lived through it

Who am I?

I spent two years researching and creating the graphic novel Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash for the 14-18Now Foundations WW1 centenary art commissions, and then touring a live permanence work evolved from the book. We grew up a few miles from each other, and he convalesced after the war where I live now, and I share his sense of place, and we appear to have shared many life experiences, with the obvious exception being his time in the trenches - that was the huge black hole I tried to understand with this work.


I wrote...

Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash

By Dave McKean,

Book cover of Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash

What is my book about?

Known for his collaborations with Neil Gaiman, David Almond, Heston Blumenthal and Richard Dawkins, Dave McKean defied expectations with his stunning debut as writer and artist in Cages, winner of multiple awards for Best Graphic Album. Dark Horse proudly presents an original graphic novel by the legendary artist based on the life of Paul Nash, a young artist and officer during World War I, finding his voice and his social conscience in the trenches in Ypres. Black Dog; The Dreams of Paul Nash fuses real soldiers’ memoirs and Nash's life and work, becoming a moving evocation of how the extremities of war change us and how we deal with the resultant shock—in Nash’s case, by turning his landscapes into powerful and dreamlike 'psychoscapes'.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War

By David Boyd Haycock,

Book cover of A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War

Why this book?

This book covers the drama and upheaval of the years leading up to the war to end all wars, and how five young British artist’s lives were changed utterly by their experiences, with all the energy of a great historical novel. All artists hope to find a powerful subject to drive their work, but this generation had to somehow express the madness and horror they found in those fields of Europe. A later generation would learn from these expressionists, futurists and vorticists and conjure international careers out of those lessons, but this very English group, during this century defining decade, did the heavy lifting.

A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War

By David Boyd Haycock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Crisis of Brilliance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dora Carrington, Mark Gertler, Paul Nash, Christopher Nevinson, and Stanley Spencer were five of the most important British artists of the twentieth century. From diverse backgrounds, they met at The Slade in London between 1908 and 1910, in what was later described as the school’s ";last crisis of brilliance."; Between 1910 and 1918 they loved, talked, and fought; they admired, conspired, and sometimes disparaged each others’ artistic creations. They created new movements; they frequented the most stylish cafés and restaurants and founded a nightclub; they slept with their models and with prostitutes; and their love affairs descended into obsession, murder,…


Paul Nash in Pictures: Landscape and Dream

By James Russell,

Book cover of Paul Nash in Pictures: Landscape and Dream

Why this book?

Key paintings from Nash’s restless career, each with an accompanying essay offering insight into the real places and events that Nash samples and folds into his psychological landscapes. We are constantly aware of the mind behind the brush, using the places he loves to explore his inner anxieties and his desire for solace.

Paul Nash in Pictures: Landscape and Dream

By James Russell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paul Nash in Pictures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Poet and Painter

By Anthony Bertram, Claude Colleer,

Book cover of Poet and Painter

Why this book?

More than any other book, this volume of letters between friends, and the unguarded insight they allow, gave me a sense of the man, his rhythms of speech, his manner of expression and his character. Career details and everyday mundanities mix with deeper concerns and the kind of excavation of ideas only really close and respectful friends can express.

Poet and Painter

By Anthony Bertram, Claude Colleer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Poet and Painter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book bears witness to the staying power of Pre-Raphaelitism & illuminates the ambivalent, relatively uncritical response in England to the modern movement.


Paul Nash: Outline, An Autobiography

By David Boyd Haycock,

Book cover of Paul Nash: Outline, An Autobiography

Why this book?

Nash never managed to finish his autobiography, and it was originally published with notes, letters and fragments edited into the second half to attempt to complete his story. This new edition adds his wife Margaret’s Memoirs of Paul Nash, 1913-1946, from a surviving type manuscript held at the Tate, to add many more colours and details to this fascinating portrait of an artist and his genius loci – sense of place. I’d also recommend James King’s biography Interior Landscapes.

Paul Nash: Outline, An Autobiography

By David Boyd Haycock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paul Nash as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paul Nash (1889-1946) was one of the most important British artists of the twentieth century and an official war artist in both the First and the Second World Wars. This new edition of Nash's unfinished autobiography, Outline, is published to coincide with the Tate's major Paul Nash retrospective and incorporates an abridged edition of the previously unpublished 'Memoir of Paul Nash' by his wife Margaret.

Nash started writing Outline in the late 1930s, but it was left incomplete on his sudden death in 1946. Nash had struggled to complete the book, finding that he could not get beyond the beginning…


Brothers in Arms: John and Paul Nash and the Aftermath of the Great War

By Paul Gough,

Book cover of Brothers in Arms: John and Paul Nash and the Aftermath of the Great War

Why this book?

A thoroughly researched visual study of two brothers, close and highly imaginative playmates as children, but then gradually divergent adults as they came to terms with their war experiences. John had a tougher war, yet seems to have been able to leave the horror behind as he embarked on a brighter, more decorative illustrative style. Paul would be haunted his entire life by shadows of death and depression, but would become one of this country's most important and powerful artists.

Brothers in Arms: John and Paul Nash and the Aftermath of the Great War

By Paul Gough,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brothers in Arms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When brothers John and Paul Nash held their first exhibition in 1913 at the Dorien Leigh Gallery in South Kensington, London they were regarded as equally talented and equally ambitious, even though it had been Paul who had studied at the Slade School of Art amongst an extraordinary cohort of young British artists, and John was regarded as an untutored youngster with a flair for capturing the essence of the English landscape. As war broke their fortunes diverted: Paul achieved instant recognition as an Official War Artist, while John withstood the terrors of the trenches as an infantryman. In 1918…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Paul Nash, World War 1, and the Western Front (WW1)?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Paul Nash, World War 1, and the Western Front (WW1).

Paul Nash Explore 5 books about Paul Nash
World War 1 Explore 625 books about World War 1
The Western Front (WW1) Explore 30 books about the Western Front (WW1)

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Female Tommies, Finding Thoroton, and Female Intelligence if you like this list.