Happy Birthday, Mr. Rackham

> On this date in 1867, 141 years ago, the great British illustrator Arthur Rackham was born. The definitive bibliography of Rackham’s works is by Richard Riall, published in 1994, which is a rather scarce item in its own right. When I discovered we did not have a copy, I acquired it immediately. An individual collector can choose to ignore the standard bibliographies of his subject and enjoy a private voyage of discovery into terra incognita. An institution, however, must work to a plan, and the only maps available for book collecting are good bibliographies.

The PPL only recently (2000) began collecting Rackham, at the instance of a gift of about 30 titles by former Trustee Martha Sherman, an amateur collector who had been introduced to the artist’s work as a child in the 1920s by an aunt, and had subsequently read works illustrated by Rackham to her own children. These books fit well within our larger collection of children’s literature—over 2,000 titles, ranging in date from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, given to the Library by by Edith Wetmore in 1956. Wetmore was a discriminating and well-heeled collector, and most of our high-spot children’s books came from her (including a handful of very nice Rackham titles).

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