Painter, draughtsman, teacher and writer. Born in London, Townsend studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, 1926–30, under Henry Tonks. He then began to travel extensively in Europe and the Near East. His first one-man show was at the Bloomsbury Gallery, in 1932. In the 1930s became involved in Labour politics, while working as a painter and book illustrator. Among Townsend’s contemporaries at the Slade were the painters William Coldstream, Claude Rogers, Geoffrey Tibble and Rodrigo Moynihan, so not surprisingly he became associated with the Euston Road School in the late 1930s, participating in Euston Road exhibitions. During the early days of World War II he made a series of drawings of Canterbury Cathedral – Canterbury was his home – and it remained an important theme in his work, as were the hop gardens and landscape of Kent.
Text source: 'Artists in Britain Since 1945' by David Buckman (Art Dictionaries Ltd, part of Sansom & Company)