Troubador Joseph Pike

Interview with BBC Radio Devon

Interview with BBC Radio Bristol & Somerset

Released: 28/02/2018

ISBN: 9781788037778

eISBN: 9781788034746

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Joseph Pike

The Happy Catholic Artist


First biography of the remarkable and hugely admired artist, Joseph Pike.


Author aided by artist’s family including his grandson, Hugh Salmon, (founder of, giving access to personal details and illustrations.


Joseph Pike has been described as an artist of unusual merit , who recorded with outstanding ability the architecture of all periods which exists in contemporary Britain . A master of the art of pencil drawing, he produced evocative sketches of old churches, and colleges, monasteries and modern offices, picturesque street scenes in historic towns such as Rugby and Chester, as well as a great number of London landmarks. His illustrations were commissioned by authors, architects and publishers, reproduced in books and on postcards, sold as prints and exhibited on the walls of the Royal Academy.

When he died in 1956, the Catholic Herald referred to him as a distinguished artist, though not personally well known , and until the publication of this biography little has been written about his life and work. Joseph Pike: The Happy Catholic Artist reveals the man behind the art, beginning with his roots in Bristol and his education by the monks of Ampleforth Abbey, marking the beginning of a lifelong association with the Benedictines. Early attempts to launch a professional career as an artist were interrupted by military service in the First World War, and it was only through dogged determination and hard work that he managed to establish himself in the 1920s.

Although there is little explicit religious content in his work, Joseph Pike was a devout Roman Catholic who worked with many of the leading figures in the literary and artistic revival that transformed Catholic culture in interwar Britain. This biography explores his friendships with the likes of Ronald Knox and Bede Camm, his work for the Benedictine monks of Caldey Island and the Dominican Friars in London and Oxford, and demonstrates how his artwork helped preserve the memory of the Catholic martyrs and forgotten shrines of historic England.

This is the story of a remarkable artist and quiet, modest man, hugely admired by his contemporaries, whose contribution to 20th century British art deserves greater recognition.

Yorkshire Gazette and Herald

Books Monthly

I would like to thank James Downs and troubador publishing for the advanced copy of this book. When I recieved it I quickly flicked thorough the pages and glanced at the illustrations and thought that Joseph Pikes style of pencil drawing was not for me. How wrong I was about this book!
When I recieved a prompt email to write a review I took another look. The first chapter of the Catholic Revival was an clear and balanced look at the persecution Roman Catholics a part of British history that is much overlooked. The rest of the book reads like an episode of 'Who do you think you are' and is just as engaging. Before I knew I was already half way through the book.

Josephs is a excellent draughtsman and his work was of it's time although still not to my taste Also included here are his thoughts published in 'The Artist' Hints on the art of the pencil. Here I agree with him whole heartedly. People give up too soon when learning to draw. Like learning an musical instrument it takes time and lots of practice.

I think I would have liked to talk about art and faith with Joseph Pike. A nice man.

by Cath P

This is an interesting biography of the British artist Joseph Pike. The artist is mainly known for sketches and illustrations of famous British Landmarks for travel and history books. He was educated by monks and kept his Catholic Faith his entire life. I really enjoyed reading about the artists travels around England. Even though he was very popular in his lifetime he is largely forgotten today. I was glad the text also includes a lot of illustrations so you can see his work. Anyone with an interest in art or travel will enjoy this book.

by Karl Cook (via NetGalley)

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