Marking Walter Crane’s Centenary

John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog

Today marks the centenary of the death of Walter Crane (1845-1915), one of the most important artists, designers and book illustrators of the Victorian era.

Crane trained as a wood-engraver and became a freelance illustrator in the 1860s, while also exhibiting at the Royal Academy. During the 1860s and ’70s, his artistic output was prodigious. He designed the immensely popular children’s Toy Books for George Routledge, printed by Edmund Evans, as well as Evans’s own cheap ‘yellow-backs’, forerunners of the modern paperback. He also designed ceramics, nursery tiles and wallpaper. His clarity of line and use of flat areas of colour indicate a strong Japanese influence.

jrl0806542dc ‘The bundle of sticks’, from The Baby’s Own Aesop (London: George Routledge, 1887). R144222.

Walter Crane became a Socialist under the influence of his friend William Morris, whom he met in 1871. The two men were leading figures of the Arts and Crafts Movement…

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