Alan Odle was born in Deptford, London, on 12 January 1888. He studied art at the Sidney Cooper School, Canterbury and at St John’s Wood School, and in 1915-16 worked as the art editor of the short-lived periodical, The Gypsy. He lived a bohemian life, frequenting the Café Royal and soon suffering from both alcoholism and tuberculosis. His survival was due in great part to the novelist, Dorothy Richardson, whom he married in 1917. From the following year they shared their time between London and North Cornwall.

Odle exhibited at the Bruton Galleries in 1919 and soon after began work on an edition of Voltaire’s Candide, though this was not published until 1922. He also exhibited with Harry Clarke, Austin Osman Spare and John Austen at the St George’s Gallery in 1925. He illustrated various books and magazines but never completed his magnum opus, an edition of Rabelais’ Gargantua. He died in Trevone, Padstow, on 14 February 1948.

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