Crane, Walter

Scope and Content

Six illustrated manuscripts by the artist Walter Crane, including three notebooks produced for his children - 'Beatrice Crane Her Book', 'Beatrice's Painting Book' and 'Lancelot His Book'. Also includes the manuscripts for two published works 'The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde' and 'Thoughts in a Hammock' and 'A Herald of Spring', and drawings for an unpublished version of the traditional ballard 'The Blind Beggar's Daughter'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Walter Crane was born in Liverpool on 15 Aug 1845, second son of the portrait painter Thomas Crane and his wife Marie née Kearsley. The family moved first to Torquay, and in 1857 to London. From 1859-62 Crane was apprenticed to the wood engraver William James Linton, although he studied painting at the same time. In 1862 his painting 'The Lady of Shalott' was accepted by the Royal Academy. By the mid-1860s, Crane was illustrating children's books including coloured picture books designed in collaboration with Edmund Evans, including the series of 'Toy Books' Evans was producing for Routledge.
Crane was influenced by the Aesthetic Movement and by Japanese prints, as well as the Pre-Raphaelites and in particular Edward Burne-Jones. By the 1870s, Crane was involved in decorative design including creating ceramics (for Wedgwood, Pilkington and Maw and Co.), wallpapers (for Jeffrey and Co.), and textiles as well as exhibiting paintings. In 1881 he became friends with William Morris who was also influenced by Ruskin's ideas on beauty and utility in art and the dignity of the craftsman. Crane was instrumental in promoting the Art Worker's Guild, and became its first President in 1884. He later served for two periods as President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. He joined the Socialist League in 1883. He acted as Director of the Manchester School of Art from 1893-1896, was appointed Art Director of Reading College in 1896, and was appointed Principal of the Royal College of Art in 1898.
Crane published works on art, design and decoration, including 'The Decorative Illustration of Books' (1896), 'The Bases of Design' (1898), and 'Line and Form'. In addition, he collaborated with William Morris at the Kelsmcott Press on wood-engravings for publications including 'The Story of the Glittering Plain' (1894). As a painter, he exhibited at the Royal Academy, Dudley Art Gallery and the New Gallery amongst others. Important canvases include 'The Renaissance of Venus' (1877), 'The Bridge of Life' (1884), 'The Mower' (1891) and 'Neptune's Horses' (1893).
He married Mary Frances Andrews in 1871, and had two sons (one of whom was called Lionel) and a daughter (Beatrice). Crane died at Horsham on 14 March 1915, three months after his wife Mary had been killed by a train.


Arranged in the order in which the manuscripts appear in the published catalogue to the Sterling Library.

Access Information

Access to the items in the collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the controlled environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Access to archive collections may be restricted under the Freedom of Information Act. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the University of London Library as part of the Sterling Library in 1956.

Other Finding Aids

University of London, The Sterling Library: a catalogue of the printed books and literary manuscripts collected by Sir Louis Sterling and presented by him to the University of London (Cambridge, 1954)

Archivist's Note

Separated Material

Further papers of Sir Louis Sterling are held at the EMI Music Archives (Correspondence and papers, 1931-1958)

Other papers relating to Walter Crane are held at Harvard University, Houghton Library (Correspondence, sketches and papers, 1868-1914 [MS 81-484], and letters to James Stanley Little, 1886-1914); Kensington and Chelsea Libraries and Arts Service (Correspondence, papers and portfolios, 1884-1915 [42500]); Yale University, Beinecke Library (letters and literary ms); Castle Howard (letters to 9th Earl of Carlisle); London School of Economics, Archives Division (letters to the Fabian Society and ILP); University College London, Manuscripts Room (letters to Sir Francis Galton, 1905-1906); University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library (correspondence with John Lane); Glasgow University Library, Special Collections Department (letters to DS MacColl, 1907-1912); British Library (correspondence with Macmillans, 1874-1914, and letters to George Bernard Shaw, 1885-1904); Richmond Local Studies Library (correspondence with Douglas Sladen, 1897-1900); Manchester University, John Rylands Library (letters to MH Spielmann, 1888-1903, and account books, correspondence, diaries, notebooks and sketchbooks).

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Related Material

Papers of Sir Louis Sterling and the Sterling Library (LS)