Tom Lubbock


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Associate: Seren Adams


Tom Lubbock, writer and illustrator, was the chief art critic of the Independent from 1997 until his death in 2011. His weekly Great Works column, each an essay on a single image, ran between 2005 and 2010.

Tom studied Philosophy and English at Cambridge and began working as a comedy writer and art critic for radio, television and newspapers in 1985. He worked with the Observer, beginning as a cartoonist in 1987 with cut-paper caricatures and going on to work as radio critic from 1992 to 1995. His longer art pieces were published in Modern Painters between 1990 and 2002 and he produced major catalogue essays; on Goya, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Thomas Bewick. His illustrations, mainly done in collage, appeared every Saturday on the editorial page of the Independent between 1999 and 2004. 

In 2008 he was diagnosed with brain cancer and prepared material for several books, three of which have been published subsequent to his death: Great Works, an anthology of his essays on painting, the memoir Until Further Notice, I am Alive, and English Graphic. He was married to the artist Marion Coutts and they had one son.


Publication DetailsNotes

Frances Lincoln

A book of essays on the subject of illustration, with the focus entirely on English artists using graphic media; drawings, prints and watercolours. The pieces are largely drawn from Tom Lubbock’s weekly Great Works column for the Independent, with some longer pieces originally published as reviews or catalogue essays. Energetic, coherent and strange, English Graphic presents an electrical storm of ideas and illuminations provocatively argued by one of our most brilliant writers on art.



In 2008, Tom Lubbock was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour and told he had only two years to live. Physically fit and healthy, and suffering from few symptoms, he faced his death with the same directness and courage that had marked the rest of his life. As the Independent's chief art critic, Lubbock was renowned for the clarity and unconventionality of his writing, and his characteristic fierce intelligence permeates this extraordinary chronicle. With unflinching honesty and curiosity, he repeatedly turns over the fact of his mortality, as he wrestles with the paradoxical question of how to live, knowing we're going to die. Defying the initial diagnosis, Tom survived for three years. He savoured his remaining days; engaging with books, art, friends, his wife and their young son, while trying to stay focused on the fact of his impending death. But this is much more than a book about illness; rather, it's a book about a man who remains in thrall to life, as he inches closer to death.


Frances Lincoln

The best of Tom Lubbock, one of Britain's most intelligent, outspoken and revelatory art critics, is collected here for the first time. Ranging with passionate perspicacity over eight hundred years of Western art, whether it's Giotto's raging vices, Guston's 'slobbish, squidgy' pinks, Gericault's pile of truncated limbs or Gwen John's Girl in a Blue Dress, Tom Lubbock writes with immediacy and authority about the fifty works which most gripped his imagination.