Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Ravilious / Shakespeare

Twelfth Night, illustrated by Eric Ravilious, Golden Cockerel Press 1932

At the Royal College of Art, Enid Marx later recalled, she and Ravilious performed in a medieval Christmas play. ‘We wore medieval costumes, Ravilious in parti-coloured tights. I do remember he looked rather like a figure in his own engraving (Shakespeare for Golden Cockerel).' Perhaps he drew on the memory of college days when working on 'Twelfth Night', the last of Robert Gibbings' great Golden Cockerel productions.

Planned as a lavish successor to Gill's 'Canterbury Tales', the book was initially priced at five guineas, but as the recession deepened Gibbings wrote to Ravilious,'I do not think there is a dog's chance of selling more than 250 copies at three guineas...' Other publishers might have abandoned the project altogether, but Gibbings was made of stern stuff. Ravilious agreed to a reduced fee, and 'Twelfth Night' appeared in 1932.

In one scene Viola asks the Clown, 'Dost thou live by thy tabor?' Ravilious had a lot in common with the Clown, professing to Gibbings, 'I'm in pretty low waters myself financially...' but carrying on regardless.

This is an extract from 'Ravilious: Wood Engravings', published by The Mainstone Press.

1 comment:

  1. A lovely way to mark the date! It reminded me to look at Helen Binyon's "Eric Ravilious", which shows the discarded version, with walls and tree instead of arbour on Maria's left - playing 'spot the difference' really makes you look at all the detailed patterns and cutting. Best wishes (and I must get some Shakespeare into my frozenink blog soon.)