Read was an influential critic and thinker, and a key figure in the development of modernism in Britain. Eliot was an early long-term friend. Read was central to a circle of artists and others based in Hampstead, particularly Moore, Hepworth, Nash and Nicholson (like Moore and Hepworth, he had strong ties with Leeds). They found Mondrian a neighbouring studio; Gabo, Moholy-Nagy and Kepes were also connected. He encouraged Gombrich, championed Schwitters (who made a collage portrait), and edited Jung’s work in English, visiting him yearly in Switzerland. His many correspondents included Breton, Berger, Éluard and Miller.