de Grummond Collection

McCain Library and Archives
University Libraries
University of Southern Mississippi



RANDOLPH CALDECOTT PAPERS

Collection Number
Collection Dates
Collection Volume
DG0145
1878-1977
.30 cu.ft. (1 box)

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content |Series & Subseries

Provenance

Material purchased from Justin G. Schiller, Ltd. in 1972 and 1978 and contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Reichert in 1977.

Restrictions

Noncirculating; available for research.

Copyright

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials, other than that noted above.


Biographical Sketch

Randolph Caldecott was born March 22, 1846 in the walled town of Chester, Cheshire, England. He was the son of an accountant who discouraged Caldecott's early artistic endeavors. Still, as a child he persisted in sketching from nature, carving wooden animals, modelling in clay, and painting.

In 1861 he took a position as a bank clerk in Whitechurch, Shropshire. He lived in an old farmhouse and frequently went fishing and shooting, to meets of the hounds, to markets and cattle fairs. Storing memories in his sketchbook which would be of use to him later, he became quite a master of capturing the charm and beauty of the English countryside. In 1867 he transferred to a bank in Manchester, still exploring and sketching in his spare time. Joining the Brasenose Club, he made several pen and ink sketches, and finally became an evening student at the Manchester School of Art that same year. In 1868 his first drawings were published in Will o' the Wisp, a humorous weekly. All the while his job at the bank never suffered although stories were told of finding sketches of horses and dogs on the backs of receipts and envelopes.

In 1871 Caldecott had advanced such that his work appeared in London Society where Henry Blackburn was the editor. He and Caldecott became lifelong friends and collaborated on various projects. In 1872 Caldecott quit his banking job in Manchester and moved to London to become a free-lance illustrator. He continued to draw for periodicals and illustrate short stories supplying humorous sketches of fashionable life, hunting scenes, landscapes, dogs, and birds. Caldecott and Blackburn traveled to the Harz Mountains in Germany where he continued to sketch. Blackburn used several of these illustrations in his book, The Harz Mountains: A Tour in the Toy Country (1872). Blackburn also took some of these drawings to the United States where Caldecott's market expanded to include American periodicals such as Harper's Monthly Magazine. In the summers of 1872, 1873, and 1874 Caldecott made sketches for a selection of chapters out of Washington Irving's Sketch Book to be titled Old Christmas. For this book he teamed up with a wood engraver, J. D. Cooper, who shared illustrating credits with him for this book. Caldecott realized the added quality to be brought to a drawing by a careful wood engraver, and all his more serious, permanent work was photgraphed on the block and passed through the engraver's hands. Old Christmas was published to unanimous acclaim. It was followed by another book of Irving`s, Bracebridge Hall, which was also well received. With this success his work increased, and in 1876 Caldecott exhibited his first painting at the Royal Academy. He and Blackburn traveled together once again, this time to northern Italy and Brittany for health reasons. Caldecott continued working, however, producing many illustrations from this trip which appeared in books by Blackburn and Comyn Carr. On his return to England in 1877 he began work on his picture books at the urging of Edmund Evans. These books are considered to be Caldecott's most important works and those which changed the course of children's illustrated books. Edmund Evans was a printer and engraver who also worked with Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane. In about 1865 Evans took a stand against the crude, colored illustrations on the market for children. He believed the paper picture books could be made beautiful and still sold cheaply if they were printed in sufficient quantity. Caldecott's sketches were done in pen and ink on a smooth-surfaced paper, photographed on wood, and engraved by Evans. There were blocks for six colors including a single outline in black which would be printed on top. Their partnership produced seventeen picture books, the first being The Diverting Story of John Gilpin (1878). Together they perfected a method for producing an image of extremely delicate quality, and through this vision, skill, and effort a greater beauty was brought into English picture books. In March of 1880 Caldecott married Marion Brind. He continued his work, acquiring many admirers including Kate Greenaway, Austin Dobson, and William Clough. In 1886 he traveled to Florida for his health and to sketch the American landscape. He died of tuberculosis and was buried in St. Augustine that same year.

Caldecott's drawings have the appearance of spontaneity and movement. His work was humorous but never malicious. Possessing vitality and humor, his books have endured to capture contemporary audiences. Since 1938, the American Library Association annually has awarded the Caldecott Medal in his honor for "most distinguished American picture book for children in the United States published during the preceding year."

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