WALTER CRANE - A Masque of Days

I think it must have been around 1988, my wife and I were in London wandering through Burlington Arcade when I my eye was caught by a book in the window of a bookshop. It was one of those impulse moments and a few minutes later I had made an expensive purchase. The book was a first edition copy of A Masque of Days illustrated by Walter Crane and published by Cassell in1902. Inside is pencilled a name I cannot decipher but the hand written date is quite clear – July 09. That means as I write the inscription will be one hundred years old in two weeks and the book has been in my possession for approximately twenty one years but that is about to change.

Walter Crane, born Liverpool 1845 – 1915, was an illustrator of children’s books, a painter, interior designer, wallpaper and textile designer, ceramic designer, graphic designer and socialist. In his lifetime his work was collected in Germany and America, he was decorated by governments in Italy and Hungary and regarded as a major influence on the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. He was a founding member of the Art Workers Guild, a part-time director of design at the Manchester School of Art and in 1898 was appointed Principal of Royal College of Art.

A Masque of Days contains forty of his illustrations printed on one side of the paper only with French folds. Crane also designed the end-papers. The book is now about to be passed on to my daughter in Australia who has developed a passion for children’s illustrated books to add to her collection. I decided before it leaves my hands to copy a few of the pages and share them on this blog.

Post Published by Tom King 18th June 09

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