Arthur Rackham: A Painter of Fantasies from the Golden Age of Illustration

Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) made comprehensive contributions of suites - in both monotone and colour - to more than 25 illustrated books throughout his career in addition to many more in other publications. His illustrations interpreted a diversity of subject matters, including: myths; legends; fables; and fairy tales. Works benefiting from Rackham's contributions included titles by: Barrie; Barham; Carroll; Shakespeare; the Brothers Grimm; de la Motte Fouqué; Wagner; Aesop; Dickens; Malory; Swinburne; Stephens; Milton; Hawthorne; Irving; Moore; Andersen; Poe; and Ibsen.
Following the critical and commercial success that met his illustrative interpretation of "Peter Pan in Kensignton Gardens" (Hodder & Stoughton, London; 1906), Rackham turned his considerable talents to illustrating Lewis Carroll's fantasy, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (William Heinemann, London; 1907) and Shakespeare's "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" (William Heinemann, London; 1908).
He then turned to work on three suites of illustrations to accompany Germanic tales, the first to be published being "Undine" (William Heinemann, London; 1909). In the following two years, his magnificent illustrations interpreting Wagner's Ring Cycle were published in "The Rhinegold and The Valkyrie" (William Heinemann, London; 1910) and "Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods" (William Heinemann, London; 1911).
Between 1912 and the beginning of World War I, a further three books were published with suites of illustrations from Rackham, including a 'second' First Edition of "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" (Hodder & Stoughton, London; 1912) that was published with a new colour illustration as the frontispiece and a plethora of additional monotone illustrations. In the same year, Aesop's Fables (William Heinemann, London; 1912) carrying colour and monotone artwork by Rackham was published and in the following year, "Mother Goose: The Old Nursery Rhymes" (William Heinemann, London; 1913) was published with artwork by Rackham to accompany a selection of classic rhymes chosen by the illustrator.
While Rackham had begun work on a suite of illustrations interpreting Shakespeare's "The Tempest", the outbreak of hostilities in World War I compelled his publishers to commission other work in the short-term and as a consequence, that project was delayed. Instead, between 1914 and 1919, First Editions benefiting from Rackham's contributions included: "A Christmas Carol" (William Heinemann, London; 1915); "The Allies' Fairy Book" (William Heinemann; London, 1916); "The Romance of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table" (Macmillan and Co. Ltd, London; 1917); "English Fairy Tales" (Macmillan and Co. Ltd, London; 1918); and "The Springtide of Life" (William Heinemann, London, 1918).
The following decade proved to be no less intense for Rackham, with his suite of illustrations to traditional ballads of his homeland being published in 1919 as "Some British Ballads" (Constable & Co. Ltd, London, 1919). Soon thereafter, his Celtic-inspired suite to accompany the work of Stephens was published in "Irish Fairy Tales" (Macmillan and Co. Ltd, London, 1920). His depictions of scenes from Milton's "Masque of Comus" was published in 1921 as "Comus" (William Heinemann, London; 1921) and the following year, his suite to accompany classic work by Hawthorne was published in "Hawthorne's Wonder Book" (Hodder & Stoughton, London; 1922). In 1926, his suite for "The Tempest" - a work that had been delayed for the better part of a decade - was published in "The Tempest" (William Heinemann, London; 1926) and two years later, his work to accompany a classic tale by Irving was published in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (George G Harrap, London; 1928).
Rackham continued to be productive throughout the final decade of his life and commissions published prior to his death included: "The Night Before Christmas" (George G Harrap, London; 1931); "Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination" (George G Harrap, London; 1935); and "Peer Gynt" (George G Harrap, London; 1936). A further suite of illustrations was published posthumously as "The Wind in the Willows" (Limited Editions Club, New York; 1940).

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