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Oscar Mellor (7 June 1921 – 2005) was an English surrealist artist and publisher of poetry. An associate of the Birmingham Surrealists in the 1940s, he founded the Fantasy Press in the 1950s, publishing works by poets such as Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis and Thom Gunn.[1]

Although he became best known as a publisher, he saw himself primarily as an artist whose business activities existed to support his painting.[2]


Oscar Mellor was born and educated in Manchester, moving to Birmingham with his family in 1939 and serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II.[1] He had been painting surrealist watercolours from the age of 15, but took up painting more seriously on returning from the war in 1946, studying part-time at the Birmingham School of Art and the Ruskin School and becoming an associate of Conroy Maddox and the Birmingham Surrealists.[3]

In 1947 he was a founder member of the Birmingham Artists Committee - which existed to organise exhibitions of avant-garde artists ignored by the conservative Royal Birmingham Society of Artists - exhibiting with them alongside artists such as John Melville, William Gear, Emmy Bridgwater and Desmond Morris between 1947 and 1951.[1]

Moving to Oxford in 1948 to continue his studies at The Ruskin, he briefly went into business with Conroy Maddox before establishing himself as a publisher and photographer in Swinford, Oxfordshire, founding the Fantasy Press in 1951 and producing regular photographic work for Oxford Playhouse.[1]

From 1969 until 1973 he was a lecturer in photography at Exeter College of Art, after which he returned full-time to painting[4] until shortly before his death in 2005.


  1. ^ a b c d Sidey, Tessa (2000), "Biographies: Oscar Mellor", in Sidey (ed.), Surrealism in Birmingham 1935-1954, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, pp. 59–60, ISBN 0-7093-0235-5.
  2. ^ You Muddy Fools Letter by Trevor Denning to the London Review of Books, 7 February 2002
  3. ^ Tulip, Phoebe (2000), "Oscar Mellor: a Private View", in Sidey (ed.), Surrealism in Birmingham 1935-1954, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, pp. 47–50, ISBN 0-7093-0235-5.
  4. ^ The Eynsham Record, Number 19, 2002 "Oscar Mellor, Printer & Artist", p34