Series GSAA/DIR/12 - Papers of Douglas Percy Bliss, Director of Glasgow School of Art

Key Information

Reference code



Papers of Douglas Percy Bliss, Director of Glasgow School of Art


  • 1946-1964 (Creation)

Level of description



11.5 metres

Content and Structure

Scope and content

DATA PROTECTION NOTICE: This collection contains sensitive information about individuals that is protected by the Data Protection Act. Until this material has been checked for sensitive information the collection will not be available for researchers. Once this Data Protection work is complete, the collection will be open for access with sensitive information closed for 75 years from its date of creation. The majority of the papers of Douglas Percy Bliss consist of general and personal correspondence divided by year with a number of individual subject files from 1946-1964. Notable correspondents include the young Alasdair Gray, Edward Bawden, John Betjeman, Nikolaus Pevsner, Anthony Blunt, Robert Stewart, Joan Eardley, Gilbert Spencer and many other figures of the 1950s and 1960s art world in both London and Scotland. Series as follows: DIR/12/1: Correspondence files of Douglas Percy Bliss, 1946-1971 DIR/12/2: Working Papers of Douglas Percy Bliss, 1946-1964 DIR/12/3: Desk Diaries of Douglas Percy Bliss, 1947-1953

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.


System of arrangement

Arranged into series: 'Correspondence'; 'Working Papers'; 'Desk Diaries' and chronologically within.

The correspondence and subject files are arranged by calendar year up until 1957 and then by academic year to 1964. Within each year the material is arranged alphabetically, including subject files.

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

Douglas Percy Bliss was born on 28 January 1900 in Karachi, India. He was educated at Watson's College, Edinburgh, 1912-1918, and at Edinburgh University, 1918-1922. He studied painting at the RCA under Sir William Rothenstein, 1922-1925, receiving an Associateship. From 1932 Bliss was a part-time tutor at the Hornsey School of Art and then at the Blackheath School of Art. During the Second World War he served in the RAF, at one point being posted to Scotland.
He was Director of Glasgow School of Art from 1946 to 1964 and under his guidance the School saw a re-emergence of the importance of design and the creation of the three new or reconstituted departments of Interior, Textile, and Industrial Design, raising them to the status of Diploma subjects, and providing them with fully equipped workshops. He strove to bring figures from London to teach, and those that came to Glasgow included Gilbert Spencer (formerly of the RCA and the brother of Stanley Spencer) and Eric Horstmann. Whilst in Glasgow he worked to save the Mackintosh tea-rooms, enlisting people such as Nikolaus Pevsner and John Betjeman to support the campaign and he was tireless in encouraging critical appreciation of the city's architecture. When Bliss left Glasgow School of Art in 1964 the School was listed in Whitaker's Almanac as among the six highest-ranking Art Schools in Britain.
Bliss was well known as a wood engraver and as a historian of wood engraving, although he was also known as a painter of watercolour landscapes. He selected and engraved Border Ballads for Oxford University Press in 1925 and wrote his History of Wood Engraving in 1928. He also illustrated many books throughout his lifetime before returning to painting watercolours in the 1980s. He was elected a member of the SWE 1934, and RBA 1939. He retired to Windley Cottage near Derby and was soon invited to become a Governor of the local art college, Derby School of Art. Bliss died on 11 March 1984.

Archival history

Custodial history

Physical Description and Conditions of Use

Conditions governing access

Directors' papers which are over 30 years old are available for public consultation. Permission from the director is needed for access to those less than 30 years old.

Papers that hold sensitive information will be closed for 75 years in line with Data Protection Regulations.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

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Language and script notes

Physical Description

Finding aids

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Alternative identifier(s)



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Level of detail

Processing information

  • Papers of Douglas Percy Bliss have been re-arranged and catalogued by R Jones, Assistant Archivist, Cataloguing, Feb-Apr 2018.




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