Oscar Wilde’s Signature



One of our rare book collections, the Woodring Collection of Ricketts and Shannon books, contains not only works published by the aforementioned artists, but also books they illustrated for other publishers.

Endpages, which are quite fragile

Endpages, which are quite fragile

Title page

Title page

In 1892, Charles Ricketts designed the title page, half-title, endpapers and binding of Oscar Wilde’s Poems for The Bodley Head.  They published 220 usable copies of the book of which 200 were for sale. Beyond the beautiful art by Ricketts, there is a unique addition to the limited run, Oscar Wilde’s signature.

Signature, with a distinctive "e"

Signature, with a distinctive “e”

If you would like to know more about the book’s creation, The Complete Poems of Oscar Wilde includes transcribed letters about its making, which is available via Google Books. Moreover, there’s an interesting article about the groundbreaking nature of the signature and Rickett’s designs, entitled “Book decoration and the poetic text: Charles Ricketts’s designs for Wilde’s Poems (1892)” by Nick Frankel.

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