Jessie Knight

Jessie Knight (1904 – 1992) was the first prominent female tattoo artist in the UK.[1]

Jessie Knight
EducationCharlie Bell
Known fortattoo artist

Personal lifeEdit

Jessie Knight was born in Croydon in South London, in 1904, one of eight children. Her family worked in circuses and she was involved in sharp-shooting and riding acts. She was married aged 27, but this only lasted eight years.[1] She died in Barry, South Wales, in 1992.

Career as tattoo artistEdit

Knight began as a tattoo artist in 1921 in Barry, South Wales, having learnt how to tattoo from her father.[2] She was later an apprentice with Charlie Bell in Kent. She then moved to her own tattoo shops in Portsmouth and subsequently Aldershot. Many of her clients were women.[3] She returned to Barry in 1968 and continued working into the 1980s.[4]

Her style was to work freehand after drawing the design onto the body.[2]

In 1955 her tattoo of a highland fling won second prize in the Champion Tattoo Artist of All England competition held in London.[1]


Her work was included in an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, from March 2017 to January 2018, showing a history of British tattooing.[5]Tatty Devine has made a brooch and a necklace using an original design of Jessie Knight. Skin Digging, an exhibition of work by and owned by Jessie Knight from the collection of Neil Hopkin-Thomas was on display January 18 - February 18, 2018 at the Art Exchange gallery on the University of Essex campus in Colchester.


  1. ^ a b c Iqbal, Nosheen (14 March 2017). "Life at the sharp end: Jessie Knight, Britain's first female tattoo artist". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b DeMello, Margo (2014). Inked: Tattoos and Body Art around the World (First ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 809. ISBN 978-1610690751.
  3. ^ "Jessie Knight". YouTube. Pathe News. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  4. ^ Mifflin, Margot (2013). Bodies of Subversion: A secret history of women and tattoo (3rd ed.). Powerhouse Books. p. 192. ISBN 978-1576876138.
  5. ^ "Tattoo: British tattoo art revealed". National Maritime Museum, Cornwall. Retrieved 15 March 2017.

Will Scally directed & produced a documentary on Jessie Knight.