Illustrated by Arthur Rackham
"A Christmas Carol" (1915) is an
illustrated version of Dickens' classic Victorian morality tale co-published by J B Lippincott Co
and William Heinemann (London) in 1915.
The text follows the traditional format - first
published in 1843 - wherein the tale is divided into five staves that is the literal styling used by Dickens
to describe the
chapters (or verses).
The commission extended to Rackham for illustrating this
publication was substituted by Heinemann for the intended "Comus".
Being the first Dickens tale to be illustrated by Rackham, his
treatment of the ghostly and supernatural material seems restrained. Hamilton
makes the following comment in "Arthur Rackham: A Life with
It is as if, in his choice of subject, he voluntarily passed
by the opportunity to terrify his reader
with too many ghosts and images of retribution, and chose
instead to calm them with pictures
of sliding on the ice in smoky London, dancing with Mrs
Fezziwig and children bouncing about
on Christmas Eve. Perhaps caught by the mood of national
anxiety and tragedy of wartime,
Rackham voluntarily softened his interpretation of Dickens'
story in a way he might not have
done eight or ten years earlier - or indeed twenty years
later with Poe's "Tales".
Regardless of the reasons behind his stylistic approach to
Dickens' text, Rackham's suite of 12 colour and more monotone illustrations
accompanying this classic tale of redemption from Dickens capture the period and tone of the text to
On the left, we show a rare copy of
"A Christmas Carol" - illustrated by Rackham and
William Heinemann (London) and J B Lippincott Co
(Philadelphia) in 1915. All copes of this First Edition
printed in Great Britain.
This example retains the original
decoratively gilt-stamped lilac cloth cover.
To the right, we show the decorative
Title Page designed by Rackham.