John Walmsley

John Walmsley studied photography at Guildford School of Art (GSA) from 1965 to 68. He was actively involved in and photographed the student sit-in there in 1968 which pushed for improvements to the courses. Immediately afterwards and as a direct result, the Minister for Education ordered that all educational institutions must invite students and staff on to their Advisory Boards. GSA refused to give him any qualification.

His final year project on A.S. Neill and his democratic school, Summerhill, was published as, ‘Neill & Summerhill: a man and his work’, an Education Special by Penguin Books, 1969, with a text by Leila Berg. Leila and Walmsley then worked together for 30+ years on many books either for or about children and young people. Over a 40+ year period, his work was published in 1,000+ books worldwide. In 1979, on an Artist in Residence grant from the Scottish Arts Council, he lived and worked in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh, attached to the new Wester Hailes Education Centre.


His work, in one form or another, is at the National Portrait Gallery, The National Art Library at the V&A, the V&A Museum of Childhood, the Tate Britain Library, la Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris and at the Library of the University of California, San Diego.

In the 70s he was a part-time lecturer at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London during one of its most prolific and creative periods with students like Zaha Hadid. In recent years he’s been one of a small band of photographers fighting against the large scale infringement of our copyright and helping other authors and artists do the same.

Photos of Digswell in the 70s:
Main archive:
National Portrait Gallery prints (incl’ 3 Digswell Fellows):
National Portrait Gallery interview:
Wester Hailes, 1979: 
Member of the NUJ and the Society of Authors.

Current Fellows


Latest Events

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!