The British Surrealists

Desmond Morris

The lives, loves, and works of key British Surrealists revealed by one of the last surviving members of this movement, best-selling author and artist Desmond Morris. 

Honored for their idiosyncratic and imaginative works, the surrealists marked a pivotal moment in the history of modern art in Britain— pioneering the Surrealist movement between World War I and II. Many artists banded together to form the British Surrealist Group, while others carved their own, independent paths.

Here, best-selling author and surrealist artist Desmond Morris—one of the last surviving members of this important art movement—draws on his personal memories and experiences to present the intriguing life stories, complex love lives, and groundbreaking works of this wild and curious set of artists. From the rebelliousness of Leonora Carrington to the beguiling Eileen Agar and the “brilliant” Ceri Richards, Morris brings his subjects’ triumphs as well as their shortcomings to the fore.

Laced with his inimitable wit, and profusely illustrated by images of the artists and their artworks, Morris’s vivid account reflects the movement’s strange, rebellious, and imaginative nature. Featuring thirty- four surrealists—some famous, some now largely forgotten—Morris’s intimate book takes us back in time to a generation that allowed its creative unconscious to drive their passions in both art and life. 


A delightful series of chatty 'pen portraits'… Morris's irreverent tone is balanced by serious and insightful details, making each profile feel at once indulgent and informative… A sweeping survey that's surprisingly intimate.

— Publishers Weekly


Desmond Morris


Desmond Morris is one of the last surviving surrealists. His first solo exhibition was held in 1948 and in 1950 he shared his first London show with Joan Miró. He has since completed over 2,500 surrealist paintings, and eight books have been published about his work. He is the bestselling author of The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal, The Lives of the Surrealists, Postures: Body Language in Art, and The British Surrealists.