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Paul Delrue


Paul was born in Middlesex in 1944 and started bookbinding after leaving school in 1959. He was apprenticed at University College, London from 1961-64 and remained there as a qualified binder until 1971. During that period he was part of a team sent to Florence to save and restore flood damaged books. Paul set up his own bindery in Bedfordshire in 1971 and has since had binderies in Cheshire and North Wales and is presently binding in the historic market town of Ruthin.
Paul was elected as a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders and was a founder member of the Chester and North Wales region of The Society of Bookbinders and its Chairman in 1979.

Paul has had many students over the years; perhaps the most notable being Dominic Riley. Paul’s design bindings are to be found in collections throughout the United Kingdom, the United States and continental Europe; some have found their way into libraries of members of the Royal Family. Paul is well known for two distinctive styles of fine bindings. He has called the first ‘Lacunose’ and the Second, ‘Tudor’: Lacunose (meaning ‘furrowed’ or ‘pitted’) was a term suggested by a Liverpool University colleague. It involves applying small pieces of leather directly onto the millboard using paste and PVA and then repeatedly overlapping more leather, puckering and sanding it after the applied watery PVA has dried – a laborious procedure but with extremely pleasing results. The Tudor Style of binding acquired its name simply because the first book Paul bound using this technique was Shakespeare’s Sonnets. The boards are covered with a series of overlapping strips of goatskin which create built-up areas on the boards without the need to build up the boards underneath.

A Shropshire Lad by A. E Housman

Biscuit coloured leather onlaid with figures and trees in black and gold title along the spine together with black decoration of hills.

Boy by James Hanley

My favourite binding of late, onlaid with two lacunose panels in blue. It is a novel by Hanley, a sad and lonely tale, but it suits my nature.

Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee

It was the very first binding I dedicated to a school friend of mine, John Coker. It went to America and it is one of my favourite stories. The book is about a large family of eight in the 1920s, living in a village in Gloucestershire, where nothing moved faster than a horse. Laurie Lee talks about himself as a scab-kneed schoolboy. Such a world will never be seen again.

A Picturesque green binding with a golden sun and blind decoration. Bound in brown and biscuit Harmatan goatskin, with onlays of the author as a schoolboy. Decorated with a black tree, using carbon. It really is a daydream of a background, with a suggestion of leaves flying through the air. In fact, Laurie Lee was a daydreamer and a poet.

I coloured the edges in bright sunny colours, and the endpapers are also traditional and colourful. I have housed it in a protective box covered in green and brown buckram, with the title in black. The inside of the box is lined with suede.

On The Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
Bound in 2019

The story of twin brothers, it is a wonderful Welsh story of how they were brought up on a tight living a hundred years ago.

The green leather is puckered and sanded and I have drawn the faces of the twins, Lewis and Benjamin Jones, with their house that they lived in all their lives, and of course it always rains in Wales. The faces are coloured with acrylic for which I thank Glenn Malkin and his wonderful demonstration but I just had to do it myself, I think it comes off.

Title: ‘The Life of St. David’

A shepherd boy who lives alone and prays that his soul is forgiven. This is my telling of St. David.

The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliffe
Bound in 2020

A novel of a young man who loves music and dreams of being a composer one day. He is very romantic and misty eyed. It is the first time I have used a great deal of silver to create a mood. Bound 20 years ago, but finished a year ago in Ruthin.


A young man lives an unloved life, and walks by himself in the woods, he looks up and sees a tree, and the tree falls in love with him. A strange story but the book hugely appealed to me.

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

Two lacunose panels inspired by Thomas Mann’s story and a favourite film of mine. The binding was first covered in Harmatan sandy yellow, with the figure of a boy looking out to sea.


Email: paul@paulcdelrue.com
Website: https://paulcdelrue.com
Accepts Commissions: No