James Laver


Biography of James Laver

James Laver (1899–1975) was an English author, art historian, and museum curator who acted as Keeper of Prints, Drawings and Paintings for the Victoria and Albert Museum between 1938 and 1959. He was also an important and pioneering fashion historian described as "the man in England who made the study of costume respectable".

James Laver was born in Liverpool, England, on 14 March 1899, the second child and only son of Arthur James Laver, a maritime printer and stationer, and his wife Florence Mary née Barker. They were strict Congregationalists who brought up their children in a puritanical manner. Laver was educated at the Liverpool Institute. His academic progress was put on hold by the First World War, in which he served as a second lieutenant. In 1919 he resumed his residency at New College, Oxford, where in 1921 he earned a BA degree second class in modern history, and in 1922, a B.Litt in theology for a thesis on John Wesley. His college fees and travel expenses were subsidized by the wealthy shipping magnate, Lawrence Holt. Whilst at Oxford, he actively contributed to the student magazine Isis and won the 1921 Newdigate Prize for his poem on Cervantes.

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