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Arthur Rackham 1867 - 1939

Arthur Rackham 1867 - 1939

Helen Younger


Arthur Rackham is perhaps the most well known artist who illustrated books during that era dubbed the "Golden Age" of illustration which spanned the years 1870 - 1930. Because many of Rackham's books have been reprinted in modern times, book lovers of today have been able to enjoy his fanciful artwork. But to truly appreciate his skill and talent, there is nothing that compares to the quality of printing and sharpness of reproduction that appears in the limited editions and first editions of his works. Aleph-Bet Books always carries a large selection of fine copies of first editions of Rackham illustrated books.

Rackham was born in London in 1867. He began to draw at a very young age and became a full time artist at the age of 25 working at the Westminster Budget. His very early illustrations gave no indication of the fancy that was to come. It was with the publication of the Zankiwank and the Bletherwitch in 1896 that the style that made Rackham famous first began to emerge, but it was the appearance of his Rip Van Winkle in 1905 that set Rackham upon his course to fame. Beginning with Rip Van Winkle, Rackham produced a series of lavishly illustrated books, most of which were published in signed / limited editions as well as in cloth bound trade editions. (A chronological list of the signed/limited editions appears at end of this page.) The limited editions were usually specially bound in vellum, almost all were signed by Rackham, and several even had additional color plates that did not appear in the regular trade editions. Rip Van Winkle was soon followed by Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens (1906), Alice's Adventures In Wonderland (1907) and a host of other popular titles, the last of which, the Wind In The Willows, was published posthumously in 1940.

When he died, Rackham left a body of work whose range and consistant high quality has remained unrivaled. The fact that Rackham's books are avidly sought after today is a testament to the enduring quality of his artwork.

A List of the Major Rackham Limited Editions
(arranged chronologically)

1905 - RIP VAN WINKLE
1906 - PETER PAN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS
1907 - ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
1907 - INGOLDSBY LEGENDS
1908 - A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
1909 - UNDINE
1909 - GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES
1909 - TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE
1909 - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
1910 - THE RHINEGOLD & THE VALKYRIE
1911 - SIEGFRIED & THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS
1912 - PETER PAN PORTFOLIO
1912 - AESOP'S FABLES
1913 - ARTHUR RACKHAM'S BOOK OF PICTURES
1913 - MOTHER GOOSE
1915 - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
1916 - ALLIE'S FAIRY BOOK
1917 - LITTLE BROTHER & LITTLE SISTER
1917 - ROMANCE OF KING ARTHUR
1918 - THE SPRINGTIDE OF LIFE
1918 - ENGLISH FAIRY TALES
1919 - CINDERELLA
1919 - SOME BRITISH BALLADS
1920 - IRISH FAIRY TALES
1920 - SLEEPING BEAUTY
1921 - COMUS
1921 - A DISH OF APPLES
1922 - A WONDER BOOK
1925 - WHERE THE BLUE BEGINS
1925 - POOR CECCO
1926 - THE TEMPEST
1928 - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
1929 - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
1931 - THE CHIMES
1931 - THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
1931 - THE COMPLETE ANGLER
1932 - THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER
1932 - HANS ANDERSEN'S FAIRY TALES
1933 - ARTHUR RACKHAM FAIRY BOOK
1933 - GOBLIN MARKET
1934 - PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN
1935 - TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION
1936 - PEER GYNT
1939 - A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (PART OF LEC SET)
1940 - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS (AMERICAN EDITION)
1951 - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS (BRITISH EDITION)

This article is published on the website of Aleph-Bet Books, 85 Old Mill River Rd., Pound Ridge, NY 10576 USA, and presented here by permission of Helen Younger. Thanks very much.

Published since 09 Dec 2009

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