display | more...
An illustrator of fairy stories, who lived 1867 to 1939, and whose style is instantly recognisable: gnarled trees, delicate washes and mists of colour, and very believable elves, fairies, and gnomes: you think you could walk down into a particularly deserted piece of woodland and see these creatures playing their strange, cruel, alien, and enchantingly beautiful games. The inhabitants of his worlds were ugly and threatening, or ethereally lovely and soft. They lived among winds and clouds, old trees and young, steep hills and bracken dells, silver winter and golden summer.

Among the books he illustrated are Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, Rip van Winkle, and the fairy stories of the Brothers Grimm and Shakespeare, and many others.

I can only say I firmly believe in the greatest stimulating and educative power of the imaginative, fantastic, and playful pictures and writings for children in their most impressionable years--a view that most unfortunately, I consider, has its serious opponents in these matter-of-fact days.

Born on 19th September 1867 in Lewisham, in the south of London, the son of an Admiralty officer, he was at first intended for a career in insurance at the Westminster Fire Office. In the early months of 1884 they lived in Australia for Arthur's health. In 1888 he went to art school at Lambeth, and his watercolours and part time journalism finally enabled him to give up his job as insurance clerk. His first book publication was the 1894 Anthony Hope work The Dolly Dialogues, and it was this that transformed him from journalistic illustrator to fairy-tale artist.

He married the artist Edyth Starkie in 1903 and they had a daughter Barbara in 1908. The Rackhams had a London studio and a house at Houghton in the South Downs, and here there was a great gnarled beech, as featured in a number of his pictures. His final home was at Limpsfield in Surrey, where he died on 6th September 1939.


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.