Laurence Henry Irving (1897-1988)
Laurence Henry Irving OBE, RDI (11 April 1897 – 23 October 1988) was an artist, book illustrator and Hollywood set designer and art director. Irving was the son of actors H. B. Irving and Dorothea Baird, and the biographer of his grandfather, the Victorian era actor, Henry Irving. His sister was the actress and founder of the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign, Elizabeth Irving. He lived and died in Wittersham, Kent in 1988, within walking distance of the house, Smallhythe Place, where Dame Ellen Terry lived, who was his grandfather's leading lady at the Lyceum Theatre in London's West End. He briefly and unhappily attended Wellington College and later trained as a painter at the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Royal Academy School, studying under Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon. On completion of his art training, Irving specialised in landscape and marine painting before commencing on his career as a designer for the theatre. He was a pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) during World War I, ending the War with the rank of Captain. In 1919 be became engaged to Rosalind Woolner, the granddaughter of the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner. They married in 1921. Laurence Irving was also a book illustrator, producing artwork for Richard Hakluyt's Voyages & Discoveries of the English (1926) and John Masefield’s Philip the King (1927). In 1928 Irving went to Hollywood with Douglas Fairbanks to be his Art Director on The Iron Mask (1929), the last of his full-scale silent films and, later, in collaboration with William Cameron Menzies, to design the production of the film version of The Taming of the Shrew (1929). He was the Art Director for the films 77 Park Lane (1931) and Colonel Blood (1934). In his memoirs, Irving vividly recounts working in Hollywood for such figures as Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. On his return to the United Kingdom in the 1930s, he worked on films such as Moonlight Sonata (1937) and the Gabriel Pascal films of Shaw's Pygmalion (1938). In October 1939 at the start of World War II he served in the Intelligence Department at the Air Ministry.