Arthur Rackham (1867 – 1939) was an English book illustrator.
Arthur Rackham is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration which encompassed the years from 1900 until the start of the First World War. During that period, there was a strong market for high quality illustrated books which typically were given as Christmas gifts.
Many of Rackham’s books were produced in a deluxe limited edition, often vellum bound and sometimes signed, as well as a larger, less ornately bound quarto ‘trade’ edition. This was often followed by a more modestly presented octavo edition in subsequent years for particularly popular books. He was one of the most prolific and most loved illustrator of children’s book. Many of his work are still in print today.
Aesop’s Fables, or the Aesopica, is a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. Of diverse origins, the stories associated with his name have descended to modern times through a number of sources and continue to be reinterpreted in different verbal registers and in popular as well as artistic media.
The fables originally belonged to the oral tradition and were not collected for some three centuries after Aesop’s death. By that time a variety of other stories, jokes and proverbs were being ascribed to him, although some of that material was from sources earlier than him or came from beyond the Greek cultural sphere.
The process of inclusion has continued until the present, with some of the fables unrecorded before the Late Middle Ages and others arriving from outside Europe. The process is continuous and new stories are still being added to the Aesop corpus, even when they are demonstrably more recent work and sometimes from known authors.
Presenting Arthur Rackham’s illustrations for the First edition of Aesop’s Fables. Published by William Heinemann, London 1912.