Arthur Rackham: His Life and Work
Books by Derek Hudson
A Poet in Parliament: The Life of W. M. Praed
Thomas Barnes of ‘The Times’
British Journalists and Newspapers
Norman O’Neill: A Life of Music
Martin Tupper: His Rise and Fall
Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Personal Study
The Forgotten King and other essays
(With Kenneth W. Luckhurst)
The Royal Society of Arts, 1754–1954
(With Anthony Goldsmith)
On the Slant: a play
Self-portrait in oils, 1934. ‘A Transpontine Cockney’
HIS LIFE AND WORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
Copyright © 1960 Derek Hudson
A Check-List compiled by Bertram Rota
List of Illustrations
The illustration of trees and birds on page 1 is from The Springtide of Life, 1918. The girl and the dog on page 3 are from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 1909 (‘Fred and Kate’). The drawing on the title-page is from the title-page of The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie, 1910. The trees on page 8 are from A Wonder Book, 1921 (‘The Miraculous Pitcher’). The mice on page 12 and the head-piece on page 18 are from Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales, 1932. The dancing figures on page 17 are from Comus, 1921 (‘Country Dances in Ludlow Town’). The initials which begin the text chapters are from Mother Goose, 1913. The end-papers are from Peer Gynt, 1936. The sketch on the front of the case is from The Arthur Rackham Fairy Book, 1933.
I cannot pretend that in writing biographies I have always followed Butler’s rule. But it has happened like that more often than not. And certainly the subject of Arthur Rackham did ‘run right up against me’ and ‘insist upon being done’. I can even remember the day when it began to ‘hit me in the eye’. I was looking through a copy of Who’s Who of 1938, and I had savoured once again my favourite entry — that of a certain potentate who is recorded as being ‘an excellent horseman; a brilliant polo player; an excellent shot, and A.1 billiard player’ — when, turning over a few pages, I came to ‘Rackham, Arthur, R. W. S.’
There was nothing in the least egotistical about Arthur Rackham’s modest entry in Who’s Who, but the long list of books that he had illustrated served to remind me of my own childhood and of the great pleasure his work had given to me and to so many others, and it led me to wonder whether anything in the nature of a memorial volume existed. I found that it did not; and this book, which will be published twenty-one years after Rackham’s death, is an attempt to fill the gap.
Any merit it may possess is due largely to the encouragement of Arthur Rackham’s daughter, Mrs Barbara Edwards, who has not only lent me her father’s personal records, letters, photographs, press cuttings, etc., and made available his work for illustration, but has also generously set down her own recollections of her parents, which have guided me throughout, and taken endless pains to assist me in every possible way. I am also most grateful to Mr Bernard Rackham, C.B., the artist’s brother, for his kind hospitality and advice, and for permission to reproduce drawings; and to his sister-in-law Mrs Harris Rackham for similar courtesies. Rackham’s nephew and niece by marriage, Professor Walter Starkie and Dr Enid Starkie, have also placed me deeply in their debt, and I remember with gratitude the help of several other members of his family. Nor should I omit to mention the enthusiasm with which Mr Dwye Evans and Mr Hugh Williamson of Heinemann’s approached the project and set about the making of this handsome book.
The overwhelming response that I received to an inquiry in the Press showed conclusively that, despite changes of artistic taste and fashion, Arthur Rackham still enjoys a special place in the affections of two or even three generations, both in his own country and in America, and that his work is far from being forgotten. Those who have helped me by contributing recollections, allowing letters to be published, or in other ways, include Dr Arthur C. Hill, Mr W. E. Dawe, Mrs W. E. Wheeler, Miss Janet Seligman, Mr Humphrey Brooke (Secretary, Royal Academy of Arts), Mr James Laver, Dr Percy E. Spielmann, Miss Dorothea Braby, Mr George E. Heath, Mrs R. L. Crosley, Mr Harold Bourne, the Hon. Mrs Geoffrey Edwards, Mr F. C. Winby, Miss Margaret Andrewes, Mr Karl Kup, Miss Carolyn E. Jakeman, Mr Roland Baughman, Mr Kerrison Preston, Mr A. R. Redway, the Assistant Keeper of the Tate Gallery, Mr Owen Oliver, Mr Guy Phillips, Mr R. H. Ward, Mr Gilbert Foley, Mr Stacy Colman, Mr J. B. Oldham, Mr Gilbert Rountree, Mr Roger Lancelyn Green, Mrs Evelyn Bolckow, Miss M. Savage, Dr Eric G. Millar, Mr Sydney H. Pavière, Mr Wilfrid Robertshaw, Mr E. J. Laws, Miss Margaret Nelson (Assistant Secretary, Art-Workers’ Guild), Mr John C. Oberlin, Mrs Rachel Wolton, Mrs E. Williams Bailey, and Mr Meredith Frampton, R.A. I offer my thanks to them all, and to the many others who wrote to me.
I am most grateful to Mr Bertram Rota for compiling the check-list of the printed work of Rackham, and for his advice on the book-trade aspects of the subject.
The letters from Sir James Barrie; E. V. Lucas; and Bernard Shaw are published by kind permission of Lady Cynthia Asquith; the executor of E. V. Lucas; and the Public Trustee and the Society of Authors, respectively. Extracts from a letter written by Mrs Kenneth Grahame are published by permission of the executors of the late Lord Courtauld-Thomson. I hope for the indulgence of certain correspondents of Rackham (or their representatives) from whose friendly letters I have taken brief extracts.
For their courtesy in making available original drawings for reproduction I am greatly indebted not only to Mrs Barbara Edwards, Mrs Harris Rackham and Mr Bernard Rackham, C.B., but also to the Hon. Lady Nicolson, C.H., Mr William Mostyn-Owen, Mr Peter Lazarus, and the Trustees of the Tate Gallery. Moreover, I am most grateful to Messrs Hodder and Stoughton, Messrs Methuen and Company, Messrs Harrap and Company, and Messrs Constable and Company for co-operating with my own publishers to make it possible for a wide range of Rackham’s work to be represented in this book.
Golden the light on the locks of Myfanwy,
Golden the light on the book on her knee,
Finger-marked pages of Rackham’s Hans Andersen,
Time for the children to come down to tea.
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