William Washington was born in 1885 in Marple, Cheshire. He studied at Hegginbottom Art School in Ashton-under-Lyne and worked as a printmaker, before moving to London to study at the Royal College of Art.
Many of his early works depict French towns, indicating travel after his studies ended in 1910. However he soon settled in London and went into teaching, first at the Southend College of Art and then at Clapham School of Art. While passing on his knowledge and skills to younger students, in his early thirties he began to exhibit his etchings. Since his appointment as Principal of the Hammersmith School of Art in 1929, William Washington exhibited almost annually at the Royal Academy until 1947. His work is highly detailed, lending itself to the exploration of architecture and portraiture in print. He died in 1956 and his etchings are represented in the collections of the V&A, National Portrait Gallery and British Council.
His son, R.J. Washington, grew up to be a ceramicist of similar success and in 2007 the Washington Foundation UK was established in their honour, to support recent art graduates and carry on the educational legacy of the family.