As a boy of eleven in 1963, I first encountered the work of Rena Gardiner when, passionate about the world of knights and castles, I bought her guide to Corfe Castle – excited and inspired by the colour and imagination of her illustrations which contrasted so much with the dull text and grey boring halftones of most guidebooks of the time. I became a keen collector of her books, and years later, in August 1993, I went to visit Rena Gardiner in her home and workshop in Tarrant Monkton and spent the day with her, recording a first-hand account of her printing techniques, artistic influences, her experiences at art school and her teaching career, and taking photographs of her at work. Much of the biographical and technical detail in the following text is taken from the tape recordings made on that day and therefore reflect her own words. She was kind and welcoming, always keen to talk about her books, surprised but delighted by my interest and attention; modest about her achievements but strong in her passion and belief in her work.

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