Zoe Hendon: New book about Wallpaper

Wallpaper has been the backdrop to our homes for hundreds of years

Wallpaper can make a home feel modern or traditional, and is one of the easiest ways to express personal taste.  It has also had an important part to play in British homes, reflecting technological, economic and social change.

Whether or not you have wallpaper in your own home, you probably have strong opinions about it, especially about the kind you don’t like.

Shire publishes illustrated books that appeal to a general audience and they commissioned me to write an introduction to the history of wallpaper.

My new book about wallpaper is published by Shire Books and is available in all good bookshops now.

wallpaper in the home

I was keen to put the emphasis on wallpaper in everyday domestic interiors.  My main focus is on how people chose wallpaper to decorate their homes (as opposed to public spaces such as restaurants or hotels).   I’ve used lots of examples of wallpapers from MoDA’s collections.  Where possible, I have included some of the background stories about the people who chose them and what they thought about them.

I’ve also included lots of images of wallpapers in real interiors such as historic houses. I hope that readers might keep an eye out for wallpaper next time they are visiting places like National Trust properties, and think about wallpaper as part of wider networks of consumption, trade, technology and taste.

‘Studies in Harmony’ wallpaper catalogue, 1937, (badda655)


thinking about wallpaper

There have been a number of excellent new books on wallpaper recently, including Emile De Bruijn’s Chinese Wallpaper, and Lucinda Hawksley’s Bitten by Witchfever.  My aim was to draw on some of this new work and provide an overview of the subject for the general reader.

This book might get you thinking about wallpapers you remember from your own past, or might even inspire you to get decorating!

Hendon, Zoë, Wallpaper, Shire Books, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-78442-313-1 (£7.99)

Find this and many other products and publications in MoDA’s online shop.

For more suggested reading see our online reading list.


2 Replies to “Zoe Hendon: New book about Wallpaper”

  1. Sharon Danby says:

    Hi Zoe recently we helped my mother in law clear her loft and found a 1937 wallpaper sample book which says “PRIM” Wallpapers 1937. We wondered whether you could shed any light on it. We have been having fun looking at the papers and borders.

  2. Zoe Hendon says:

    HI Sharon, that doesn’t ring a bell with us I’m afraid, as I don’t think we have anything similar here. Does the “PRIM” seem to refer to the company name or is it a description of the style of wallpapers? There were lots of wallpaper companies at that time who have subsequently been taken over by others, so tracing their history can be very difficult!

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