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Core Record

Collection Crafts Study Centre
Calligrapher Edward Johnston
Description Bifolium, two leaves, written in black ink in the ‘new plainish script', with italics used in the refrain.
Part Of Series The stolen child
Id Number Current Accession C.86.18
Subject calligraphy, bifolium
Measurements 218 x 173 centimetres
Hand paper
Material ink
Ink red, blue and green
History Written on 5, 6 and 7 October as the twenty-second in Johnston's series of numbered manuscripts, and improved on 12 October in response to criticism by Lethaby. Johnston's diary documents the construction of this manuscript and describes it in detail:
'5 October
'..Cutting and choosing size of parchment. Settled 4pp. folded 68” as my standard size to bind together, economical giving 3 out of 2s. sheet with scrap..
Began XXII. Much pleased, finished p.1.
6 October
XXII. 8 hrs. pp.2-4 written and 2|3 border nearly finished. Very much pleased.
7 October
Parchment XXII. Finished border p.2, border p.4, finished, signed, XXII.
XXII. "The Stolen Child" by W.B. Yeats (one of his best). 4pp. 63|485|8” (standard).
P.1. new plainish script and italics 13 lines.
THE STOLEN black 1|2 " above.
CHILD black 3|8 " below.
Blue and Red Lombardic capitals outlined red.
Border: Blue wire wriggles lined red and filled in, red lines, 3 symbols.
Pp.2-3. 16 and 15 lines as above, red line border containing symbols. Heart ravished by starlight "Moon"
Fairies enticing child "Starpool"
Hands reaching for heart of him "Trout"
Child coming and fascinated "Tea-rs"
by Fairyland in Soap Bubble
Water lilies and streaming water
P.4. Width of borders indicated by arms. "Kettle"
Joy over his coming
Child absorbed into fairyland of a flower.
(Say 14 hrs.) Very much pleased.'

Lethaby saw both this manuscript and ‘The Book of Martyrs' (C.86.17) on 7 October but was critical. Although he thought the ‘design' and ‘Italics' ‘very beautiful and amusing', he commented that the blue was ‘bad - swimming with red'. Johnston ‘saw this but really rather liked it. Gave Lethaby pain in stomach - I begin to see it too..'.
On 12 October Johnston took Lethaby's comments to heart, adding indigo, white lines, blue capitals, aureolin, and other decorative embellishments: ‘better, but disgusted'. Tinkering with a manuscript was not something he enjoyed - 'better, usually, to start afresh'.
This copy of ‘The Stolen Child' may usefully be compared with a version Johnston wrote perhaps a year later, illustrated here from Elkin Mathews' Catalogue (159), plate 4.
Literary Source William Butler Yeats
Rights Owner Andrew and Angela Johnston/Crafts Study Centre 2004
Style Period Period 1890s
Technique hand-lettering



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