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.

[Click on image to enlarge it and mouse over text to find links.]

Photograph and text by Simon Cooke

[You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.]