Haywood Rider was the ninth Headmaster of the Leeds School of Art from 1889 until 1922. A master for thirty-three years, the longest any Head stayed in post. He successfully steered the art school through a tumultuous period of change in British society, a time of rapid growth in industrial towns such as Leeds. The era terminated with the cataclysmic events of WW1, which disturbed Rider in a brutal and personal way.
The Rider family were natives of Hunslet, and for generations, they were artisan workers; Rider's grandfather and great grandfather were Master Coopers. His immediate family moved from Hunslet to York sometime around 1860. Rider became a Pupil Teacher, and later, he entered the York School of Art studying Architecture; in his early years self-described as an Architect and Surveyor. An interest in art was discouraged by his father, which may have been why he initially chose a more practical vocation. He gained a scholarship to study at South Kensington, National Art Training School (in 1896 renamed the Royal College of Art).
Rider was appointed Headmaster at Leeds School of Art in 1889; his time at the school's helm was considered a great success. An 1893 Inspector's Report claimed that Rider raised the Leeds school from an 'inferior position', elevating it to be one of Britain's prominent art schools. His teaching philosophy promoted the appreciation of beauty and the craft of the artist. He said that 'the primary object is to afford the student every possible opportunity of becoming thoroughly proficient in his craft'. In this way, he was, if not aligned, was sympathetic to an Arts and Crafts sensibility. His opinions were forthright and had what friends described as a 'violent antipathy of the novelties and experiments'. In practice, this meant he distrusted art movements such as Cubism and Futurism, preferring Old Masters to Modernism's perceived ugliness. However, he created the artistic environment that inspired his students, Ernest Proctor, Jacob Kramer, Hermon Cawthra, Phillip Naviasky and later Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
His two sons fought in the Great War; John Rider survived but was wounded and captured near Assa in May 1917; he was a POW in Germany. Arthur Spencer Rider was killed on the Somme in October 1916, and the loss had a profound effect on Haywood Rider's psyche and physical health. He retired from the school in 1922 to concentrate on his collection of fine art, objects and furniture. Friends described how he would spend hours contemplating Old Masters, finding some solace in their beauty and form.