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VOLUME 2:  1897

The second annual publication of The Pageant in 1897 was also its last. Announcements in The Academy and The Belfast News-Letter promoted a late-October release date. Art editor Charles Shannon wrote to Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper (Michael Field) throughout its preparation in 1896 and in the latter half of that year he confirmed that the volume was at last “in the hands of the printers,” T. and A. Constable, who had also printed the previous volume. Even though it appears that he and literary editor Gleeson White made the deadline set by the publisher, Henry and Co, the market demands rattled Shannon. He complained that the volume had “been out of hand for some weeks and like last year we are not on speaking terms with Messrs. Henry.” Shannon complained “that like trains at Railway stations, books become due at hours specified in published lists” (Ricketts and Shannon MSS ADD 58087, 63). Shannon’s frustrations with commercial publishing are informed by his experience with the private Vale Press, which he owned and operated in collaboration with his lover, Charles Ricketts. They produced their periodical, The Dial, only as an occasional volume, and that meant it was only sent to printers and promoted after the contents and production were thought satisfactory. The publishing process imposed by Henry and Co. for the upcoming Christmas shopping season meant that The Pageant of 1897, at least for Shannon, did not have the time necessary to achieve aesthetic excellence.

Ricketts’s gold-impressing for the boards and Lucien Pissarro’s endpapers were identical to those found in the previous volume, but several changes did occur with The Pageant of 1897. First and most notable was that it included a paper wrapper designed by literary editor Gleeson White (see figs. 1 and 2). The decorative imagery featured red and green ink, reflecting the volume’s status as a Christmas gift book. Neither the copy text used for this digital edition, nor the editions held at the British Library and Ryerson University retain this original wrapper, which is very rare. Examples of the wrapper, however, are published online by Paul van Capelleveen on his Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon blog (2013, 2016). With his permission, I have reproduced these images with links to two of his insightful posts on their production.

Figure 1 Spine view of dustjacket for The Pageant of 1897. Image                        courtesy Paul van Capelleveen.
Figure 1 Spine view of dustjacket for The Pageant of 1897. Image courtesy Paul van Capelleveen. For more information.

Figure 2 Front of Wrapper for The Pageant of 1897. Image courtesy Paul                        van Capelleveen.
Figure 2 Front of Wrapper for The Pageant of 1897. Image courtesy Paul van Capelleveen. For more information.

The use of wrappers was common in the 1890s, but they are often ignored by book historians and collectors because so many feature a “generally spare layout” (Tanselle 57). In this example, only the spine and the front board are decorated. The wrapper for The Pageant of 1897 was prepared by Edmund Evans (1825-1905), a printer and engraver who made his name producing colour illustrations using multiple wood blocks (Steeden 707-708). White’s design is a clever continuation of the procession imagery found in Lucien Pissarro’s endpapers and Selwyn Image’s title page for the 1896 volume. White depicts another procession, but it is obscured by a tall brick wall that only allows the viewer to see the flags and spears that rise above its height. The barrier is aestheticized further by a row of ornately pruned trees that block the skyline, and a row of tulips decorating the base of the image. The flowers differ from the ones carried by the children in Pissarro’s endpaper procession, but the leaf work is similar. Outside the brick wall fly three doves that resemble the birds impressed in gold on Ricketts’s cloth binding. The sun image on the flags is in keeping with the tenets of aestheticism, privileging artificial representations of the sun over an idealized nature depicted in much nineteenth-century realist art. The image promises a beautiful parade for the reader who seeks to go beyond the wall, open the book and follow along with its contents. Although the festive red and green colouring of the dustjacket may have clashed with The Pageant’s claret-coloured boards, White created a decorative image that hailed The Pageant’s existing visual theme and teased the reader with what awaited if they chose to spend their six shillings on the annual.

The title page for the 1897 volume is a simple design featuring a decorated initial letter and four fleurons to ornament a centred block of text (see fig. 3). This ornamentation helps create a symmetrical effect with a similar design structure used in the book’s final advertisement for the Swan Electric Engraving Company (see fig. 4). The advertisement, unlike the title page, is left-justified, but the triangular point of the decorative tailpiece beneath the text and the identical initial letter and typeface suggest symmetry.

Figure 3 The Pageant Volume 2 Title Page.
Figure 3 The Pageant Volume 2 Title Page.

Figure 4 Advertisement for Swan Electric Engraving Company.
Figure 4 Advertisement for Swan Electric Engraving Company.

The Swan Electric Company justifiably takes a prominent concluding position because it prepared the blocks for twenty-three of the 1897 volume’s twenty-four interleaved pictures, including the frontispiece. By 1894, Swan Electric’s founder Sir Joseph Swan (1828-1914) had handed the management of the firm to his son, Donald Cameron-Swan (1863-1951). Cameron-Swan, who developed contacts with fine press publishers and artists associated with aestheticism, personally “undertook the reproduction of the halftones in many key works of decorative illustration” including The Yellow Book and The Pageant (Beegan 2). All illustrations are prefaced by a half-title page, and each title is prefaced by a decorative fleuron. The one interleaved illustration not produced by Swan Electric is Pissarro’s print, “The Queen of the Fishes.” That work was prepared by Edmund Evans and is the first full-colour illustration to appear in The Pageant. It is also an important example of Evans’s colour printing process because it used five blocks to produce the image’s whimsical artificiality (see fig. 5). Using metallic gold for tall grass, the image draws attention to its own artificiality, rather than emphasizing the natural setting of Pissarro’s subject. The reviewer for the Pall Mall Gazette, however, was entirely unimpressed, calling the wood block “pretentious” and comparing Pissarro’s “affected medievalism” to the popular adventure fiction of Robert Louis Stevenson (“The Pageant,”11).

Figure 5 Lucien Pissarro's Queen of the Fishes.
Figure 5 Lucien Pissarro’s Queen of the Fishes.

The line blocks that appear in-text to illustrate the annual’s essays were prepared by two companies, Carl Hentschel and Company, and Walker & Boutall. Carl Hentschel (1864-1930) and his company produced engravings for a variety of publications in the 1890s, including The Yellow Book (Beegan 1-2). Sir Emery Walker and Walter Boutall, who formed their firm in 1885, were also prominent figures in the revival of printing, with Walker serving as an unofficial advisor to William Morris when the latter established the Kelmscott Press (Carter 1249).

Illustrations in the volume are diverse and eclectic, decadent both in style and subject matter, with examples of mythology, fairy tales, pre-Raphaelitism, and naturalism. Of the latter, “The Bathers” by Scottish artist William Strang (1859-1921) is a striking example because of its aesthetic interest in, and desire for, the working-class male body, a subject outside conventional classical ideals. The nude subject dominates much of the illustrated content. The male nude features prominently in Edward Burne-Jones’s “The Call of Perseus” and George Frederic Watts’s “The Death of Abel” and “The Genius of Greek Poetry.” There are also numerous studies of the nude female body, with Moreau’s Salomé, and Puvis de Chavannes’s stylized nudes. Perhaps less well known are Shannon’s “The Wounded Amazon” and Ricketts’s “The Autumn Muse.” Both works caught the attention of reviewers with divergent opinions. The Glasgow Herald declared the works respectively “powerful” and “beautiful” (“Miscellaneous Books,” 7). The Pall Mall Gazette was less flattering, calling Shannon’s Amazon one of the volume’s “least remarkable” works (“The Pageant,” 11).

Artificiality as a theme is excessive in The Pageant of 1897, so it is no surprise that decadence takes a prominent position within its pages. The volume’s frontispiece is a reproduction of Gustave Moreau’s “Hercules and the Hydra,” and two further works by Moreau are interleaved within White’s essay, “The Pictures of Gustave Moreau”: “The Apparition” and “The Sphinx,” both images of Salomé. In many cases, rather than seeking permission to reproduce the original paintings, Shannon secured permission to reproduce existing prints in the possession of collectors. A Mr. L. Lecadre of Paris held the copyright for these prints of the Moreau paintings as well as to the print used to reproduce Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’s “Young Girls and Death.” In addition, the volume included William Rothenstein’s drawing of author Joris-Karl Huysmans, whose decadent novel, A rebours (1884), dedicated significant space to an admiration for Moreau’s works, particularly his Salomé images.

As was the case in The Pageant of 1896, the most decorated literary works in the 1897 volume are the essays. All essays continue the practice established in the first volume of beginning the text with decorated initial letters. Dugall Sutherland MacColl (1850-1948) provides an essay on painter and engraver Giulio Campagnola (1482-1516) supported by two examples of his engraving work. Charles Ricketts’s “A Note on Original Wood-Engraving” features nine works that offer the reader a survey of wood engraving from historical examples by Renaissance masters Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538) and Jan Lievens (1607-1674, misspelled as “Livens” in the original image caption), William Blake’s contemporaries Edward Calvert (1799-1883) and Samuel Williams (1788-1853), and Ricketts’s own contemporaries Thomas Sturge Moore (1870-1944) and Reginald Savage (1862-1932). Pissarro’s colour engraving appears in the midst of this essay, while Ricketts’s own “Autumn Muse” precedes it. By including Renaissance-and Romantic-era works, the volume contextualizes the more decadent work of Moreau as well as the idealism of Pissarro. What emerges is a historically informed discourse about European art and the position of contemporary cosmopolitan artists within that discourse.

Puvis de Chavannes (1824-98) has a second contribution to The Pageant of 1897 named “Young Girls by the Sea,” a reproduction of a painting first exhibited in 1879 and now held by the Orsay Museum in Paris (Pierre Puvis de Chavannes Committee par. 33). The plate printed here was in the copyright of Messrs. Braun, Clement and Company. Company founder, French photographer Adolphe Braun (1812-1877), was celebrated for perfecting the carbon process used to reproduce images of fine art, which “give to the photographic proof the aesthetic stability of a print” (“A Noted Family” 1). The other major contributor of copyrighted prints was engraver and photographer Frederick Hollyer (1837-1933), who held the copyright for the plates of “Perseus and the Sea-Maidens” and “The Call of Perseus” by Edward Burne-Jones (99, 111) and George Frederick Watts’s “The Death of Abel” and “The Genius of Greek Poetry” (189, 203). Hollyer is remembered today for his portrait photographs of famous authors and artists, including John Ruskin, William Morris, and Aubrey Beardsley. He also produced a significant number of photographic reproductions of paintings, not just by contemporaries like Burne-Jones and Watts, but also the Holbein drawings held at Windsor Castle (“Frederick Hollyer” par. 5).

While the placement of images is more orderly in the second volume of The Pageant, there is an element of excess with Shannon’s choices as art editor. Three Moreaus, and two images each from Burne-Jones, Campagnola, Puvis de Chavannes, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Shannon, and Watts, give the sense of the annual serving as a gallery featuring small collections that reflect the editor’s influences and compatriots. The artists’ works are grouped together so that the reader does not see the Rossetti’s until after they have seen all the works by Moreau. While works are grouped according to the artist, the works are physically separated by various literary pieces, sometimes in the midst of a piece of fiction, as with Puvis de Chavannes’s “Young Girls by the Sea,” amidst a work by Max Beerbohm, and a second that separates T. Sturge Moore’s poem from Maurice Maeterlinck’s play. More baffling is the decision to interleave Shannon’s “A Study in Sanguine and White” within Laurence Housman’s fairy tale, “Blind Love,” while placing Housman’s own illustration for the story, “The Invisible Princess,” within John Gray’s story “Light.” Other artists who contribute single examples of their work are Charles Conder, Walter Crane, Pissarro, Ricketts, and Savage.

The literary contents in the 1897 volume of The Pageant include four essays, one play, ten poems and seven short pieces of fiction. The only play in The Pageant of 1897 is another symbolist work by Maurice Maeterlinck, The Seven Princesses, presented in translation by Alfred Sutro. Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper (Michael Field) had submitted a play, Equal Love, for The Pageant of 1896 and were well paid for the contribution with ten guineas (Ricketts and Shannon MSS ADD 58087, 42). This time, however, Shannon warned them “that a play as long as Equal Love would prove almost unmanageable for Pageant No. 2” (Ricketts and Shannon MSS ADD 58087, 56). Unlike Michael Field, Maeterlinck does not seem to have been subjected to the same pressure to respect limited space. It seems that Shannon and Ricketts were preparing Michael Field’s Fair Rosamund (originally published in 1881) for the Vale Press at the same time that they were preparing The Pageant of 1897. Maureen Watry details the publication of that play for June 12, 1897 (128-130). Rosamund’s beautiful republication by the Vale demonstrates Ricketts’ and Shannon’s commitment to supporting Michael Field’s literary career, but the women’s quantifiably reduced contribution to The Pageant of 1897 reflects the ongoing dominance of male contributors to the annual.

Michael Field contributed two poems, “July”—which The Glasgow Herald called “a pretty poem” (“Miscellaneous Books,”7)— and “Renewal,” both representative of Bradley and Cooper’s oeuvre. In early 1896, Shannon wrote to the women to tell them that The Pageant “is supposed to be ready for the printers by the beginning of July.” At this point Shannon had the manuscripts for “Renewal” as well as two other works, “The Fate of the Crossways” and “Marionettes.” Shannon later wrote Bradley and Cooper to confirm “July,” a fitting title possibly inspired by the editor’s deadline, and the previously unmentioned “Renewal” for The Pageant of 1897. He also confirmed that “Crossways” would be published in the fifth and last volume of The Dial (1897) (Ricketts and Shannon MSS ADD 58087 57). The only other contribution by a woman to The Pageant of 1897 is “The Song of Songs” by Rosamund Marriott Watson (1860-1911).

Titles for poems are in all caps with no ornament. The most attractive poetic contribution is Selwyn Image’s “Ancilla Domini,” which features an elegant indentation pattern that gives a visual appeal to a work by an author better known for his illustrations in the periodical press. The work with the most positive critical reception is Dobson’s “Postscript” to Oliver Goldsmith’s “Retaliation” (1774). It is presented as a fictional forgery, though Dobson is himself the author. Goldsmith’s original poem is a multi-stanza commemoration to a series of deceased poets. The first stanza of the retaliation continues the original’s formula of commemorating a poet, this time Samuel Johnson, adding two more stanzas that defy the original poem’s strict organizational structure while retaining the overall lighthearted spirit and the heroic couplets of Goldsmith. The Glasgow Herald gives the poem “first place” amongst the volume’s contents (“Miscellaneous Book,” 7), while The Pall Mall compliments Dobson’s excellent “Johnsonian verses” even though the poem is inspired by Goldsmith’s work (“The Pageant,”11).

The most compelling works in The Pageant of 1897 are the short fiction that dominate the literary contents. Decorative initials are used for the first page of each short story. Max Beerbohm’s decadent Japanese fairy tale, “Yai and the Moon,” is a darkly comic exploration of love, aesthetics, and death. John Gray’s story “Light” follows a woman’s discovery of spiritual ecstasy after converting to the Catholic Church, equating the experience of religious epiphany to the sexual ecstasy of orgasmic satisfaction. Also of note is “Queen Ysabeau” by then-deceased French author Auguste Villiers de I’Isle-Adam (1838-1889). Presented in a translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos (1865-1921), the Count’s work is another example of decadence found throughout the 1897 volume. Additional works are contributed by Dr. Richard Garnett (1835-1906), Lionel Johnson (1867-1902), Victor Plarr (1863-1929), Walter Delaplaine Scull (1863-1915), and Edward Purcell’s “Of Purple Jars,” a creative essay that The Pall Mall Gazette declares is “alone worth the price of the volume” (“The Pageant,” 11).

Five pages of advertisements at the back of the volume are dedicated to promoting Henry and Co.’s publications, including the first and only issue of their children’s annual, The Parade, which featured many of the same provocative contributors as The Pageant, and stand-alone publications by contributors Beerbohm,John Oliver Hobbes, Housman, and Richard Le Gallienne. The publisher’s list also advertises remaining issues of the 1896 volume of The Pageant: an unspecified number at 6s and a few of the 150 large paper editions at 1 pound, 5 shillings net. After the ads for Messrs. Henry, a further page promotes the works of Marcus Ward & Co. Ltd., including their Christmas issue of Marcus Ward’s Magazine, Under the Mistletoe. Another page features ads for Hacon & Ricketts at the Sign of the Dial, promoting older works by Thomas Campion (edited by John Gray) and Empedocles on Etna by Matthew Arnold. The volume ends with the ad for the Swan Electric Engraving Company.

© 2019 Frederick King, Dalhousie University

Note on the Copy Text

The 1897 volume of The Pageant used as a copy text here is in significantly better shape than the first volume. The binding is intact, and the cloth colour remains bright. While the paper wrapper is long gone, the pages were uncut and the images intact. The spine was also painted with call numbers showing, as with the 1896 volume, a lack of care for these works as something worth archiving in a conventional manner. Copies in the British Library inspected by the editor were found to be in a similarly damaged condition. One copy in the British Library was restored but the rebinding process removed Pissarro’s endpapers. The fact that these volumes are being re-mediated now on Yellow Nineties 2.0 shows the shifting nature of archival work and the benefit that digital editions provide to periodical scholarship.

Works Cited

  • Beegan, Gerry.” Carl Hentschel (1864-1930).” Y90s Bibliographies, edited by Dennis Denisoff, 2010. Yellow Nineties 2.0, General Editor Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019,
  • Carter, Sebastian. “Walker, Sir Emery,” The Oxford Companion to the Book, Volume 2 D-Z. Edited by Michael F. Suarez, and H. R. Woudhuysen, Oxford UP, p. 1249.
  • “Frederick Hollyer – Life and Work.” Victorian and Albert Museum. Acessed 15 May 2019.
  • “Literary Gossip.” Review of The Pageant, 1897. The Belfast News-Letter, Issue 25353, Monday October 19, 1896, p. 7. Yellow Nineties 2.0, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humantites, 2019,
  • “Miscellaneous Books,” Review of The Pageant, 1897, Glasgow Herald, Saturday, December 5, 1896 Issue 292, p. 7. Yellow Nineties 2.0, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019,
  • “A Noted Family of Fine Art Publishers.” The Lotus Magazine, vol. 4, no. 1 (October 1912): pp. 1-8. Retrieved from JSTOR.
  • “Notes on Art and Archaeology.” Review of The Pageant, 1897. The Academy, no. 1276, October 17, 1896, p. 290. Yellow Nineties 2.0, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019,
  • “The Pageant.” Review of The Pageant, 1897. Pall Mall Gazette, December 18, 1896, p. 11. Yellow Nineties 2.0, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019,
  • Pierre Puvis de Chavannes Committee. “Biography of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes,” Accessed 15, May 2019.
  • Ricketts, Charles, and Charles Shannon. Letters 42, 56, 57, and 63, Ricketts & Shannon Papers. Add MS 58085-58118, 61713-61724. The British Library, London.
  • Steeden, Kathleen. “Evans, Edmund.” The Oxford Companion to the Book, Volume 2 D-Z. Edited by Michael F. Suarez, and H. R. Woudhuysen, Oxford UP, pp. 707-708.
  • Tanselle, G. Thomas. Book-Jackets: Their History, Forms and Use. The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 2011.
  • Van Capevelleen, Paul. “77. A Wrapper for The Pageant, Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, 13 January 2013. Accessed 10 May 2019
  • Van Capevelleen, Paul. “263. Dust-Jackets on Ricketts’s books (6): The Pageant,Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, 10 August 2016. Accessed 1 May 2019.
  • Watry, Maureen. The Vale Press: Charles Ricketts, A Publisher in Earnest. Oak Knoll Press/The British Library, 2004.

MLA citation:

King, Frederick. “Critical Introduction to The Pageant Volume 2, 1897,” Pageant Digital Edition, Yellow Nineties 2.0 , edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.