Subseries GSAA/DIR/12/1 - Correspondence files of Douglas Percy Bliss

Key Information

Reference code



Correspondence files of Douglas Percy Bliss


  • 1946-1971 (Creation)

Level of description



10 linear metres

Content and Structure

Scope and content

RESTRICTED ACCESS: Some files contain personal information and will therefore remain closed for 75 years. Correspondence files of Douglas Percy Bliss. Includes 'in' letters with copies of replies from Bliss attached. Includes correspondence about many aspects of directing the Art School, for example providing references for graduated students, advice for prospective students, and corresponding with the other main Art Colleges and Schools in Scotland. Also includes correspondence with Art Societies and Institutions throughout Britain, and letters inviting figures in the Art world to come and lecture at the School. See the catalogue below for a more detailed description of what is contained within the correspondence files. Files as follows: DIR/12/1/1: Correspondence, 1946 DIR/12/1/2: Correspondence, 1947 DIR/12/1/3: Correspondence, 1947-1948 DIR/12/1/4: Correspondence, 1948 DIR/12/1/5: Correspondence, 1949 DIR/12/1/6: Correspondence, 1950 DIR/12/1/7: Correspondence, 1951 DIR/12/1/8: Correspondence, 1952 DIR/12/1/9: Correspondence, 1953 DIR/12/1/10: Correspondence, 1954 DIR/12/1/11: Correspondence, 1955 DIR/12/1/12: Correspondence, 1956 DIR/12/1/13: Correspondence, 1957-1958 DIR/12/1/14: Correspondence, 1958-1959 DIR/12/1/15: Correspondence, 1959-1960 DIR/12/1/16: Correspondence, 1960-1961 DIR/12/1/17: Correspondence, 1961-1962 DIR/12/1/18: Correspondence, 1962-1963 DIR/12/1/19: Correspondence, 1963-1964 DIR/12/1/20: Later Correspondence, 1964-1971

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

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


System of arrangement

Correspondence is arranged chronologically, in the first instance, and alphabetically within each year.

Files are arranged by calendar year up until 1957 and then by academic year to 1964. The correspondence occurs in alphabetical files with some thematic subject files throughout which are also arranged within the alphabetical system.

This system was put in place by Douglas Percy Bliss, or his Secretary. See DIR/12/1/7/1 for a sheet of instructions on 'Filing Letters for the Director' 1951.

NB individuals may be arranged alphabetically by either their surname or the name of the group or society they represent so it is advised to look under both.

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

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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.

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Alternative identifier(s)

Former Reference

This material has been re-arranged as of Feb 2018. The references remain as beginning with DIR/12 however, full reference numbers may have changed.



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