A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare Rackham editions

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Arthur Rackham’s Masterpiece Renaissance Vision

At the peak of the Golden Age of Illustration around 1908, Arthur Rackham with William Shakespeare produced career parallel masterpieces in limited edition A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Showcasing 70 sumptuous drawings and paintings spanning fairy magic to darker desires. Just as Shakespeare expanded dramatic possibilities through multilayered structure and archetypes in 1590s, Rackham synthesizes 19th century fantasy advancements into new century through intricacy and psychological symbolism.

Buy A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The holy grail for collectors and devotees of Rackham, Shakespeare, theater, fantasy art and Edwardian esthetics.

  • 70 pieces including 40 sumptuous mounted color plates visualizing Shakespeare’s magical dreamscape
  • Helped cement Rackham as the era’s preeminent fantasy interpreter through Baroque splendor

With 40 mounted color plates allowing lifelike detail, Rackham visualizes the Bard’s evergreen comedy balancing myriad moods from riotous humor to eerie unease. As debates persisted regarding appropriateness of fairy subjects during era’s rigid mores, Rackham channels subversive undercurrents through seductive charm. His dimensional forests and ethereal beings feel ancient yet daringly modern. Together Rackham and Shakespeare build immersive portal revealing imagination and nature’s hidden recesses as conduit to transformation and self reclamation.

Limited Edition (1908):

  • Cream vellum binding, gilt edges, silk ties, etc. (134 pages + 70 full color and black and white illustrations by Rackham);
  • Limited to 1000 copies signed by Rackham

Trade Editions:

  • UK: Tan cloth binding with mounted color plates on tan paper (134 pages)
  • US: Decorated gray boards with green cloth spine, color plates (134 pages)


  • Limited Edition: 8 3/4 x 11 1/2 inches
  • Trade Editions: 7 x 9 3/4 inches (UK); 6 7/8 x 9 7/8 inches (US)

Text: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Illustrations by Arthur Rackham: 40 mounted color plates, 30 black and white drawings


  • UK: William Heinemann
  • US: Doubleday Page & Co.

Bring immortal characters like Oberon, Titania, and Puck home before the morning breaks!

Buy A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1908 Editions)

The rare 1908 signed limited edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, UK and US First Editions with Rackham’s iconic fairy visions

  • Limited Edition – Cream vellum binding with gold decorative stamping. Gilt edges, silk ties, etc. (134 pages + 70 full color and black and white illustrations by Rackham).
  • Tan cloth binding with mounted color plates on tan paper.

With 1908’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream visual interpretations, Arthur Rackham reached new creative peaks through producer trust enabling meticulous mounting and reproduction of his original watercolors without commercial mediation. Much as Shakespeare expanded dramatic possibilities in the 1590s, Rackham synthesizes 19th century illustration advancements to launch new aesthetics. Critics praised his finessed style capturing the play’s tonal fluidity across 40 sumptuous color plates.

Many highlight bawdy scenes like the transformedBottom’s abuse by sprites for balancing light mischief against uneasy violence. Rackham channels strange undercurrents through seductive charm as strict mores faced erosion. Florid vignettes ignore stage directions to transport readers into tangled fairy bowers with symbolist mice, pixies, andRackham’s signature Art Nouveau plants invading text margins.

As framing pieces, these demonstrate masterful line drawing meeting Matisse and Klimt levels through sinuous negative spaces. Such bravura technique accelerated fantasy art respectability against persisting snobbery. Together Rackham and Shakespeare built an immersive portal into imagination and nature’s hidden dimensions serving as conduit to transformation and self-reclamation amidst cultural transitions from Victorian rigidity toward liberty’s temptations.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Believed written around 1595, A Midsummer Night’s Dream stands as one of Shakespeare’s most enduring and influential works. The comedy incorporates multiple storylines centered around the wedding festivities of Theseus and Hippolyta, introducing magical fairies, young lovers, and bumbling actors. Shakespeare weaves together themes of passion and imagination with an atmosphere blending whimsical charm and ominous unease.

Its first documented performance came in 1604. While initially adapted rather than staged in its entirety, the work saw greater faithfulness by the 1840s. Landmark productions ranged from Purcell’s 1692 opera The Fairy Queen to Max Reinhardt’s elaborate Hollywood Bowl spectacle in 1934 directed by William Dieterle and starring James Cagney. The play directly inspired musical settings by composers like Mendelssohn whose famous Wedding March premiered in 1842.

By the 20th century, the play cemented popularity across stage and screen with interpretations both traditional and avant garde. Beyond theater, the story’s characters and symbols continue permeating the arts and popular culture through painting, ballet, film, literature, astronomy, and other mediums. Multiple moons of Uranus honor its fairy royalty like Oberon and Titania as just one example. Four centuries since its first performances, A Midsummer Night’s Dream retains astonishing cultural currency with its archetypes and dream-like aesthetics providing seemingly inexhaustible wellsprings of creative inspiration.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) rose from modest beginnings in Stratford-upon-Avon to become a preeminent English playwright and poet whose works profoundly influenced theater and literature. Though details remain scarce regarding his private life and education, records indicate Shakespeare left school to marry Anne Hathaway in his late teens before moving to London to commence an acting career by the early 1590s.

After gaining recognition for early stage roles, Shakespeare began writing plays fusing verse drama traditions with innovative structure, language, and characterization. His first major works blended English history and tragedy, as with “Richard III,” before finding acclaim for comedies including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Merchant of Venice.”

At the turn of the 17th century, Shakespeare penned iconic tragedies analyzing human nature through morally ambiguous figures facing passion and ambition’s consequences. Masterpieces like “Hamlet,” “Othello,” “King Lear,” and “Macbeth” established him as an incisive philosopher poet utilizing dramatic irony and multilayered symbols to probe timeless questions.

In later years, Shakespeare collaborated on speculative tragicomedies and romances also praised for depth. Amidst writing, he remained actively involved in London’s thriving theater world as performer and stakeholder. By the time of his 1616 death, Shakespeare had written over 35 influential plays along with enduring poetry. Once seen as merely popular entertainment, ascendance of Romantic literature and critical appreciation cemented his plays and sonnets as sublime transcendent works of genius unmatched in English literature. They remain continually reinterpreted worldwide across stage and page.

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