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Copley studied at the Manchester School of Art and at the Royal Academy Schools, then spent ten years in Italy. He was primarily a printmaker of lithographs and etchings, publishing his first lithographs in 1909, and working increasingly in etching from 1925. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists and the New English Art Club. However his later, and finest etchings were rarely exhibited and after 1939 many were not even editioned. Copley's work was overlooked for 35 years after his death in 1950, but has been the subject of a significant revival of interest more recently. An exhibition at Garton & Cooke, London (1985) was followed by a one-man exhibition in 1990 at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, and another mounted concurrently at Agnews, London. In 1998 The Fine Art Society, London also held a solo exhibition, accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue. The British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum hold examples of his work.