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Ayrton, Michael

Entry updated 5 July 2021. Tagged: Artist, Author.

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UK journalist, broadcaster, sculptor, painter and author born Michael Ayrton Gould (1921-1975), using his father's surname until adolescence, when he took the surname of his mother the politician Barbara Ayrton (1886-1950), also recognizing in this fashion his grandmother the engineer and mathematician Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923); married to Elisabeth Ayrton from 1952 until his death. He was much respected as an illustrator and stage designer; through much of this work recurred images of the Minotaur and of Daedalus, the maker of the Labyrinth, and in this sense a figure significant to Proto SF. Although little of this preoccupation showed in his first book of genre interest, Tittivulus; Or, the Verbiage Collector (1953), which was a Satirical fantasy, The Testament of Daedalus (1962 chap) presents in prose, verse and illustration the eponymous fabricator's reflections on the problem of flight; The Maze Maker (1967) is a biography of Daedalus in novel form; and The Minotaur (1970 chap) is a short study of the Monster who occupied the daedal Prison. Some of the Fabulations assembled in Fabrications (coll 1972) are of sf interest. As artist he illustrated a number of books of genre interest, such as the 1955-1956 reissue of Wyndham Lewis's The Human Age sequence, for which (typically unnoticed by British scholars in the visual arts) he also created full-colour wraparound covers (for some further examples of his work in this field, see Picture Gallery under links below). Among other work relevant to this encyclopedia, he did the cover illustrations for the first UK edition of Ray Bradbury's Dark Carnival (1947) and the 1974 Faber reprint of William Golding's The Lord of the Flies (1954); he wrote the entry on the latter author for the Dictionary of National Biography. [JC/JGr]

Michael Ayrton

born London: 20 February 1921

died London: 17 November 1975

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