Warwick Goble - signature Goble is in #s 9 & 11 of
Warwick Goble - Green Willow

Warwick Goble isn't exactly a household name. He was born in 1862 - think Remington, Russell, Hugh Thompson, Herbert Railton, Arthur Rackham, John D. Batten, Frank Brangwyn, and Joseph Pennell for contemporaries. He was raised in London, went to The City of London School (just five years ahead of Rackham) and attended the Westminster School of Art. He worked for a printer that did chromolithography and contributed to the Pall Mall Gazette and the Westminster Gazette, illustrated papers of the day.

Warwick Goble - Oracle of BaalHis watercolors were the perfect vehicle for the new illustrated books of the early 20th century. He was exhibiting at the Royal Academy as early as 1893, so this appears to have been his focus. It wasn't until 1896 (at the age of 34!) that he began dabbling at illustrating books. One of his earliest books (which isn't listed in any of the bibliographies we've found) was The Oracle of Baal in 1896. From the image at left, you can see that he wasn't ready to set the publishing world on fire just yet. His third book was H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds in 1898. A smattering of books appeared over the next decade - only three or four. But by 1909, the publishers were immersed in a public demand for color-plate books spurred by the wonderful efforts of Rackham and Dulac.

Warwick Goble - Green Willow, Moon MaidenStarting in 1905, with books like Rackham's Rip Van Winkle and his Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens along with Dulac's Arabian Nights - both in 1907, a strong market had sprung up for color-plate books, especially fantasy and fairy tale subjects. Goble, well-versed in watercolor techniques and very influenced by the same Japanese techniques that fascinated Dulac, was perfectly suited to the task of producing the plates. Whereas he'd done about five books in the ten years from 1897 to 1907, he produced about ten books in the five years from 1909 to 1913. Starting with an edition of The Water Babies in 1909, followed closely by Green Willow and Other Japanese Fairy Tales in 1910, these were some of the most lavishly illustrated books of the day. Water Babies had 32 color plates and Green Willow, 40 (the top image is one of the 16 plates that survived into the abbreviated second edition). The Dulac influence is present, but I don't think it is as obvious as some would claim. Also from Green Willow is the enchanting Moon Maiden at right.

1911 saw the publication of Stories From the Pentamerone, with 32 color plates. Two Pogany-esque samples below.
Warwick Goble - Pentamerone 1 Warwick Goble - Pentamerone 2

Warwick Goble - Folk Tales of BengalWarwick Goble - Indian Myth and LegendIt becomes more and more evident as I list these titles, that Goble had become the designated artist for Asian story books. Other titles that fit neatly into his forte are Folk Tales of Bengal (1912, 32 plates) and Indian Myth and Legend (1913, eight plates) - left and right, respectively. Another entry into the Eastern parade was Indian Tales of the Great Ones (1916). The 32 plates of his 1912 Chaucer, while not as exotic, are equally appealing.

Warwick Goble - KidnappedHe continued working into the late 1920s. In 1925, he illustrated Treasure Island and Kidnapped for Macmillan (image at right), in the same series that contained so many wonderful titles from Eric Pape. The Alhambra (1926) and Tod of the Fens (1928) might also be from that series.

Goble's art occasionally rose to the classic level and often was only competent. His color sense and his watercolor techniques were always of the highest caliber. He created some truly memorable images. He died in 1943.


To learn more about Warwick Goble, see:

The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914 Simon Houfe, 1981 Antique Collectors' Club
Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century Peppin and Micklethwait, 1984 Arco
The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators Alan Horne, 1994 Antique Collectors' Club
The Vadeboncoeur Collection of Knowledge Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. 1999
The Vadeboncoeur Collection of ImageS 9, 11 Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. 2007, 2009 JVJ Publishing

or, for more images visit the SurLaLune site devoted to Goble

Illustrations are copyright by their respective owners.
This page written, designed & © 1999 by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Updated 2011.

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