Henry Moore (1898–1986) grew up in Castleford, West Yorkshire and studied in Leeds at the School of Art.

By the young age of eleven Moore had decided he wanted to become a sculptor. He was set to enroll at art school but this was interrupted by the outbreak of war. After service in World War I, Moore received an ex-serviceman’s grant to attend Leeds School of Art (now Leeds Arts University). He began in 1919 and, to make up for lost time, was able to take a two-year drawing course in just one academic year.

It was in Moore’s second year that he asked to study sculpture, a course that was not available at this time in Leeds. Rather than rejecting his request, the School reinstated its sculpture department which had closed before the war. In 1919 artist Reginald Cotterill (1885–1966) established the new sculpture course, with Moore as the only full-time student.

Henry Moore Institute and Cubitts
Henry Moores history of sculpture notebook dated 1920. Photo credit Joanne Crawford. Now held in the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers.

Moore’s notebooks from that time reveal his studies of Western art and traditional representations of the body. He wrote about art from Greece, Chaldea, Babylon, Assyria and Egypt while making sketches of the sculptures he encountered. These influences can be seen in his work Seated Man that he created in 1921 (from the Leeds Museums & Galleries sculpture collection). Please see sample pages in the gallery below.

Moore used what he had learned in Leeds throughout his successful career and always felt a connection to the city. The Henry Moore Institute was the vision of Moore himself, who wanted to give back to Leeds and add to his legacy by creating a centre for the study of sculpture in his home county, Yorkshire.

The Sculpture Research Library now houses over 30,000 books, journals and audio-visual material. The extensive library collections cover sculpture internationally, with a particualrlly strong focus on British artists. The library is a brilliant access point for over 500 films and documentaries on sculpture as well as interviews with sculptors from National Life Stories. The Archive of Sculptors’ Papers is home to over 300 collections of British sculpture history from the past 200 years. The collection includes photographs, letters, drawings and sketchbooks alongside film, digitial records and even tools and costume. Both the library and the archive are open to the public and all vistiors are welcome here to explore the fascinating stories about the history and future of sculpture. The Henry Moore Archive, comprising documents, images and recordings created throughout Moore’s working life, is held at the Studios & Gardens, Perry Green, Hertfordshire.