When asked what he did for a living, Peter would usually say he was a designer, or, a typographer. Designing for print – books, exhibition catalogues, magazines, posters – took up the most substantial part of his time, at the BBC in the 1960s and 1970s and thereafter as a freelance. He was also an illustrator, a journalist, an author of children’s books, an editor and a publisher. The great range of his professional work, and his encompassing interest in the work of others, made him a collaborator sought out by writers, publishers and artists.
Diana Souhami, who worked with Peter often, wrote in the Guardian after his death: “He had the ability to conceptualise what each publishing project needed and to get it right. He was hugely and diversely productive, but seldom hit a wrong note.”
Discussing his journalism in her appreciation in the London Review, Mary‑Kay Wilmers wrote: “There are people whom getting a grip doesn’t suit, who don’t want to be confined. One can honour the world in depth or across a wide range and there were few aspects of the world that Peter didn’t wish to honour.”
He probably would have been delighted by – and certainly modestly sceptical of – Alan Bennett’s appraisal, in the posthumous publication of a catalogue of his pictures in Artwork, that he was “an heir to Ardizzone, Bawden and Ravilious.”
Peter Campbell was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1937. In 1960 he emigrated to London where he lived for the rest of his life. He died in 2011.