Gordon Craig, as he is usually known, was the second child of the actress Ellen Terry and her then partner, the architect-designer Edward William Godwin. Like his eartist brothers-in-law James Pryde and William Nicholson, who inspired him to take up wood engraving. Nicholson's influence can clearly be seen in his work. Craig now became one of a number of distinsguished wood-engravers who got together at that time to show their work: see Sylvester Bone for a chart of their exhibitions from 1904-15; Craig exhibited 46 engravings in all (Bone 73). Returning to the stage, Craig made his mark in theatre design and directing, but he never lost his interest in wood-engraving. James Hamilton writes:

Craig's earliest wood-engraving was a portrait of the poet Walt Whitman (1893), taken from a photograph. This was a revolutionary work, one of the earliest "white line" wood-engravings of the modern era, in which the image is made to emerge from the block, which prints black, by engraved lines which carry no ink and remain the colour of the paper. Craig embraced wood-engraving wholeheartedly, with a boyish, breathless, energy, and by the end of 1899 had engraved nearly 200 blocks. This spontaneous, affectionate approach to creativity was an aspect of his character that articulated his entire life, embracing also the tone of his writing and his theatre design.

In fact, in his introduction to Craig's autobiography, Peter Holland maintains that his "writings and engravings, far more than any of his work on particular productions, created an art of the theatre for the twentieth century" (ix). — Jacqueline Banerjee



Bone, Sylvester. "Muirhead Bone and the Society of XII." The British Art Journal 4, no. 2 (2003): 66-73. Web. 16 April 2021.

The Dome: An Illustrated Magazine and Review of Literature, Music, Architecture, and the Graphic Arts. London: “Published at the Sign of the Unicorn,” 1898-1899.

Hamilton, James. "Craig, (Edward Henry) Gordon (1872–1966), theatre director and designer and wood-engraver." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 14 April 2021.

Holland, Peter. Introduction. Index to the Story of My Days: Some Memoirs of Edward Gordon Craig. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

Last modified 13 April 2021