Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Dulac, Edmund

(1882-1953) French-born illustrator, in the UK from about 1903; from 1923 until his death he lived with Helen Beauclerk. With Arthur Rackham, ED was one of the central illustrators of the Edwardian period, a time when fantasy Illustration reached a peak of sophistication. As in Rackham's case, his prime stretched from about 1905 through WWI. From the first, though ED shared Rackham's exuberant capacity to create intricately peopled fantasy Landscapes, his work was more painterly, and he had an unmatched knowledge of how to use book-production technology to gain expressive colour effects. The influence of Persian and Indian art – especially miniatures – was always evident; later, Chinese influences also showed in the increasingly jewelled precision of his effects.

ED's first illustrations appeared in France in 1897; work of fantasy interest began to appear after his move to England, the first being illustrations to Fairies I Have Met (1907; exp vt My Days with the Fairies 1913) by Mrs Rodolph Stawell. In that year he began to produce an annual Christmas Book for Hodder & Stoughton, the firm which had published Rackham's first Christmas gift-book. The sequence, for which ED did much of his best fantasy work, comprises Stories from the Arabian Nights (coll 1907), text by Laurence Housman, Shakespeare's Comedy of the Tempest (1908), The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1909) by Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883), The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales (coll 1910), adapted from the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault by Arthur Quiller-Couch, The Snow Queen; and Other Stories from Hans Andersen (coll 1911), The Bells and Other Stories (coll 1912) by Edgar Allan Poe, Princess Badoura (1913), text by Housman (again from The Arabian Nights), and Sinbad the Sailor & Other Stories from the Arabian Nights (coll 1914). WWI broke the sequence, the next title being a compilation for charity, Edmund Dulac's Picture-Book for the French Red Cross (graph 1915; cut vt Edmund Dulac's Picture-Book 1919). The sequence proper then continued with The Dreamer of Dreams (1915) and The Stealers of Light (1916), both by Queen Marie of Roumania (1875-1938), Edmund Dulac's Fairy-Book – Fairy Tales of the Allied Nations (coll 1916) and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales (coll 1918; cut 1938).

After illustrating William Butler Yeats's Four Plays for Dancers (coll 1921) and Beauclerk's first two novels, ED released A Fairy Garland, Being Fairy Tales from the Old French (coll 1928). Some of his late work included illustrations for Gods and Mortals in Love (coll 1936), with text by Hugh Ross Williamson, The Daughters of the Stars (coll 1939), with text by Mary C Crary, and John Milton's Comus (1954 US). [JC]

Edmund Dulac


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.