Ralph Nicholas Chubb – Image from Woodcuts, 1928
Ralph Nicholas Chubb was an English poet, printer and artist. Heavily influenced by Whitman, Blake, and the Romantics, his work was the creation of a highly intricate personal mythology, one that was anti-materialist and sexually revolutionary.
Ralph Nicholas Chubb – The Enchanted Valley, 1925
He was born in 1892, he was educated at St Albans School and won a scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge in 1910. After Cambridge he studied art at the London School of Art for a year in 1913, before becoming an officer in the First World War. He served with distinction, became a captain, but developed neurasthenia (shell shock), and he was invalided out in 1918.
Ralph Nicholas Chubb – Unfettered Joy, 1922
After the war in 1919 he studied art at the Slade School of Art under Henry Tonks. There he befriended Leon Underwood who had also served in the war and Chubb wrote poems of Underwood’s short lived magazine The Island.
Ralph Nicholas Chubb -Portrait of a Seated Female Nude (likely painted at the Slade School of Art)
Unable to support himself through his work he moved with his family to the village of Curridge, near Newbury in Berkshire. He set up his own printing press in 1921, making books of woodcuts and poetry, and then in 1924 became a part time art master at Bradfield College.
The printing press he used was made by his brother Lawrence out of an old carpenters bench, the typesetting was arranged by his sister Ethel. They must have been a remarkably understanding family of his rather amorous homosexual artworks and poems. To get around the horror of typesetting Ralph later used lithography to make his books, so he could hand-draw his script.
A page from Chubb’s The Secret Country – or tales of Vision, 1938-39.
Other themes run through all of Chubb’s work. He was forever haunted by the memory of a young chorister at St Albans who disappeared from Chubb’s life just as he had summoned up the courage to speak to him. Similarly, a brief sexual relationship with another boy when Ralph was 19 seemed to serve as a template for future visions of paradise. Chubb’s books become progressively more self-involved and paranoid. Seeking to articulate his pederastic desires, he created a personal mythology which explained everything in terms only he could understand. Nonetheless, Chubb’s work is of fascinating psychological significance; each of the various angels, knights, seers, and boy-gods in his dream world represents an aspect of his introspective and persecuted self.
Ralph Nicholas Chubb – The Bathers, 1924
- MANHOOD: A POEM. Curridge 1924. 8vo. 200 copies. Printed by Chubb in metal types.
- THE SACRIFICE OF YOUTH: A POEM. Curridge 1924. 8vo. 45 copies. Printed by Chubb in metal types.
- A FABLE OF LOVE AND WAR: A ROMANTIC POEM. Curridge 1925. 8vo. 200 copies. Printed by Chubb in metal types.
- THE CLOUD AND THE VOICE (A FRAGMENT). Newbury 1927. 8vo. 100 copies. Printed commercially for Chubb.
- WOODCUTS. London, Andrew Block, 1928. 4to. 235 copies. Chubb’s only commercially published book.
- THE BOOK OF GOD’S MADNESS. [Newbury 1929.] 100 copies. Printed commercially for Chubb.
- AN APPENDIX. Newbury 1929. 4to. 50 copies. Mimeographed by Chubb. Not for sale.
- SONGS OF MANKIND. Newbury 1930. 4to. 100 copies. Printed commercially for Chubb.
- THE SUN SPIRIT: A VISIONARY PHANTASY. [Newbury 1931.] Folio. 30 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
- THE HEAVENLY CUPID: OR, THE TRUE PARADISE OF LOVES. [Newbury 1934.] Folio. 43 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
- SONGS PASTORAL AND PARADISAL. Brockweir: the Tintern Press, 1935. The first book printed on a private press owned by Vincent Stuart.
- WATER-CHERUBS: A BOOK OF ORIGINAL DRAWINGS AND POETRY. [Newbury 1937.] Folio. 30 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
- THE SECRET COUNTRY: OR, TALES OF VISION. [Newbury 1939.] Folio. 37 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
- THE CHILD OF DAWN: OR, THE BOOK OF THE MANCHILD. Newbury . 4to. 30 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
- FLAMES OF SUNRISE: A BOOK OF THE MANCHILD CONCERNING THE REDEMPTION OF ALBION. Newbury . 4to. 25 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
- TREASURE TROVE: EARLY TALES AND ROMANCES WITH POEMS. Newbury . 4to. 21 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
- THE GOLDEN CITY WITH IDYLLS AND ALLEGORIES. Newbury . 4to. 18 copies. Lithographed by Chubb and posthumously published by his sister, Miss Muriel L. Chubb.
Frontispiece to Chubb’s – A Fable of Love & War, 1925