Binding for Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market
Laurence Housman, designer
Gilt blocking on pale green cloth.
7¼ x 4¼ inches
Housman's cover-design reflects symbolically on the text's treatment of nature. Rossetti's poem explores the generative (and degenerative) workings of the natural world, and the artist suggests its unstoppable power in the form of writhing tendrils, the type that recur throughout Celtic art. This approach prefigures the sinuous rhythms in the illustrations he also produced for this edition. An elegant version of Art Nouveau in which the narrow format creates a distinct sense of the urbane and sophisticated, the design is Housman's most famous and celebrated binding. It was exhibited at the London Arts and Crafts Exhibition in October 1893 (before the book's publication in December), where it attracted an appreciative audience.
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Photograph and text by Simon Cooke
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