Wednesday, January 19, 2022

546. Ricketts is in the Index

As a Ricketts blogger, I naturally regularly check the index of books in which his name might appear. In the book of letters to and from Emery Walker (1851-1933), the man to whose advice both William Morris (Kelmscott Press) and Thomas Cobden-Sanderson (Doves Presss) owed much, Ricketts's name appears in the index with four page references. 

Sir Emery Walker
Unknown photographer
Glass negative, 1920-1933
© National Portrait Gallery, London [NGP x31052]
Creative Commons Licence

The book was published in 2019, but because of the lockdowns and disrupted transport routes I only saw it last week: Emery Walker. Arts, Crafts and a World in Motion (Oak Knoll Press), compiled by Simon Loxley.

However, of the four references, only two are justified. They refer to the pages (141-142) that repeat the well-known story about throwing punches, matrices, and lead type into the Thames.

In a footnote to a letter from Morris to Walker of 1894 (letter 26, pages 38-39), Ricketts and the Vale Press are mentioned in a biographical sketch of Horace Hart, who worked for the Ballantyne Press, where Ricketts had his books printed. But the chronology is all wrong here, Ricketts and Hart certainly did not meet at Ballantyne, because Hart had already started working for the Oxford University Press in 1883, eight years before Ricketts had his journal The Dial printed by the Ballantyne Press in 1891-1892.

Intriguing is a reference to Ricketts on page 121, letter 82 from R.B. Cunninghame Graham to Emery Walker, 5 November 1912. Cunninghame Graham wrote: 

Dear Mr Walker,
I have written to Ricketts asking him to call on me. All I can tell him are my personal recollections of Morris.

A footnote provides a brief biography of Ricketts:

Charles Ricketts (1866-1931), artist and theatre designer, whose Vale Press was one of the significant private presses inspired by Morris. 

But why would Ricketts want to hear about Morris? Was he working on an article about the founder of the Kelmscott Press? Loxley is silent on that and does not explain why Walker thinks it necessary for Cunninghame Graham and Ricketts to meet. During this period Ricketts wrote articles and books on art, and letters on art policy, to the editors of newspapers, but he was not concerned with typography or figures like Morris.

The explanation is, of course, simple; Loxley is not a thorough editor. 

This passage is not about Ricketts at all, but about the author of a biography that would be published by Herbert Jenkins in 1913, William Morris, a biography written by Arthur Compton-Rickett.

Sir Emery Walker
By William Strang (1859-1921)
Etching, 1906
© National Portrait Gallery, London [NGP x31052]
Creative Commons Licence