Dorothy Lathrop’s Dreamscapes: Haunting Century-Old Illustrations of Fairy-Poems by the Woman Who Became the First to Win the Caldecott Medal

Poetic magics in ink, pen, and creativity.

By Maria Popova

In the last stretch of World War I, having actually earned a degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in an age when under 4% of females finished college, Dorothy Pulis Lathrop (April 16, 1891– December 30, 1980) was commissioned to highlight a book of speculative imagist poems by a young American poet who would win the Pulitzer Prize twenty years later. She never received her commission– the publisher declared bankruptcy. However her art caught the mindful creativity of the prolific English poet and author Walter de la Mare, who asked her to illustrate a fairy tale he had actually written a decade earlier. So began a lifelong relationship and Lathrops own respected profession. In her 9 years of life, she illustrated nearly forty books for children and composed several, most of them celebrating her love of animals and the subtle charms of the natural world. She become the first individual to win the Caldecott Medal– the Nobel Prize of illustration.

Readily available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.While the artwork radiates the visual of the Golden Age of Illustration that Arthur Rackham had actually introduced fifteen years previously with his revolutionary edition of Alices Adventures in Wonderland, it likewise radiates Lathrops singular sensibility– lines as consummate as Rackhams, however with a greater and more dreamlike elegance of movement; spectacular dramas in white and black, evocative of Aubrey Beardsley however unfolding with higher subtlety and tenderness.

Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Available as a print.Complement with Arthur Rackhams stunning illustrations for The Tempest and a starker dreamscape in Harry Clarkes illustrations for Poes Tales of Mystery and Imagination from the very same era, then revisit another take on enchantment in the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborskas superb short meditation on fairy tales and the significance of being terrified.

In 1922, Lathrop illustrated De la Mares Down-Adown-Derry (public library|public domain)– a collection of fairy poems for children, to which she brought her unusual imagination and her delicate, scrumptiously detailed pen.