Joash Woodrow was born into a Jewish family in Leeds, England on 6 April 1927, one of eight sons and two daughters; his parents, both from a Polish-immigrant background, had married in Boston, USA. On moving to England, the family settled in Leeds: his father worked as a Hebrew scholar and bookseller before finally moving into the textile trade. Woodrow trained at Leeds College of Art before serving in the army as a cartographer in Egypt (1945-8). Afterwards, from 1950-53, he studied drawing and painting at the Royal College of Art, where his fellow students included Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake and novelist Len Deighton. Shortly after graduating, Woodrow suffered a nervous breakdown, returning to his home in Chapel Allerton, Leeds to live with his mother and brother, Israel. From this time, he began working from home, steadily producing drawings and paintings. Following the death of his mother (in 1962) and brother (in 1978), he became prolific, painting increasingly large pictures. During the late 1990s his health declined and in 2000 he moved to sheltered accommodation. In 2001, over 700 paintings and several thousand drawings were found in his home/ studio. He received critical acclaim late in life, with a retrospective in summer 2005 at Manchester Art Gallery, which toured to Ben Uri Gallery the same year. He died in Manchester, England on 15 February 2006. A play about him, The Resonance of Seclusion, by Liz Postlethwaite, was produced at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester.