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Welcome, as always, dear readers. This is a special day, so we have added an extra entry this week. 77 years ago today, on 6 September, 1939, 5 days after the beginning of World War 2, Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) died.

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Beginning as a clerk for the Westminster Fire Office (an insurance company, founded in 1717) who took art lessons,

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Rackham first shared illustrations with Alfred Bryant for the 1893 To the Other Side,

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but his biographers tell us that it was his next book project, the illustrations for Anthony Hope’s The Dolly Dialogues,003 The Dolly Dialogues.jpg

which convinced him to put all of his energy into book illustrations, his focus from then until his death, in 1939.

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A man dedicated to his art, Rackham turned out multitudes of images for books as varied as Rip Van Winkle (1905—also illustrated by N.C. Wyeth, another favorite of ours, in 1921),

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Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906),

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1907),

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1908),

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and The Wind in the Willows (published posthumously in 1940).

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And his methods included the absolutely striking Cinderella (1919) and The Sleeping Beauty (1920), in which the illustrations are done almost completely in silhouette, as if the figures and scenes were designed for shadow plays.

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Throughout, the themes of wonder and the fantastic/grotesque interested him the most and, for us, a major feature is his trees, of many types, but often haunted things with eyes and mouths.

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From William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1908

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From Nathaniel Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book, 1922

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“Come Now, a Roundel” from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1908

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From Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, 1940

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From William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1908

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From Nathaniel Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book, 1922

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Although he was cremated, we still want to offer him a typical Roman farewell, sometimes found inscribed on Roman tombs and the title of this posting: Sit Tibi Terra Levis—“May the earth lie light upon you”. (Literally, “May the earth be light to you”)

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

MTCIDC

CD

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