Painter and printmaker John Copley was born in Manchester in 1875. He trained at Manchester School of Art and in the studio of Nicol and Cope before entering the Royal Academy in London.
Copley took up lithography in 1906 and in 1910 helped Joseph Pennell set up the Senefelder Club for the revival of lithography as a creative medium, acting as its secretary from 1911 to 1915. It was here he met his wife and fellow lithographer Ethel Gabain, who he married in 1913. He soon emerged as one of the pre-eminent lithographers working in England in the first half of the twentieth century. He produced over 250 lithographs in the period up to 1938, working initially in colour but then exclusively in black and white. In 1930 he was presented with the chief award and medal at the first International Exhibition of Lithography at the Art Institute of Chicago.
From 1925 to 1927 Copley and his family moved to Alassio in Italy for his health, he was unable to source lithographic stones there so instead turned his hand to copper plates. Etching was a medium that he took great delight in and experimented with for the rest of his life, producing 131 remarkable etchings over the following two decades.
In 1947 Copley was honoured with election as the president of the Royal Society of British Artists. Examples of his work can be found in the collections of the British Museum, Yale Center for British Art, and the V & A among many others.