Illustrated by Arthur Rackham
"Irish Fairy Tales" (1920) was a collection of
traditional tales compiled by James Stephens, as illustrated by Arthur Rackham.
Rackham's suite of illustrations providing a visual
interpretation of the tales collected by Stephens show a genuine affinity with Celtic aesthetes
and artistic traditions. Those images are regarded as among
Rackham's most accomplished in the decade and some are most noteworthy for
the complementary integration of elaborate borders within the
For this commission, Rackham received an advance from
MacMillan and Company (London) of £1,000, contributing to the most profitable
of his artistic career (his income in 1920 reached a career
peak of £6,409 [net]).
In "The Review" (Vol. 3: 1920), Pearson commented on
Stephens' text and Rackham's illustrations thus:
Children may enjoy it, but like Arthur Rackham's exquisite
illustrations, it will be fully appreciated
only by more sophisticated readers.
The critique published in "The Independent" (25 December,
1920) said as follows:
James Stephens' writing has the gift of everlasting youth.
Arthur Rackham's drawing have
inherent magic. Wherefore the two are fortunately met in a
new book, primarily for children, but
also full of appeal to grown-ups with a sense of humor.
On the left, we show a rare 1st
Edition example of "Irish Fairy Tales" (1920) that retains the original
gold-stamped green cloth cover - the binding used by Macmillan and
To the right, we show the decorated Title Page
designed by Arthur Rackham.