In a speech delivered in January 1910, Arthur Rackham commented: "The most fascinating form of illustration consists of the expression by the artist of an individual sense of delight or emotion aroused by the accompanying passage of literature." It was for this arousal of delight that Rackham, a prolific artist and illustrator whose works span an almost inconceivably broad range of subjects, is best known. Rackham rarely failed to please his audience with his rich colors, his intricate detail, and his almost obsessive attention to and use of line.
In total, he published more than 3,300 individual images and decorations, including staggeringly beautiful watercolors, signed ink sketches, Christmas cards, caricatures of friends and family members, signatures on menus, designs for book covers and dust jackets, advertising images, bookplates, head- and tail-pieces to chapters in books, endpapers, and of course his innumerable illustrations, in both black-and-white and color, for books.
Rackham's work has been compared to some of the greats of the Victorian era, including such luminaries as George Cruikshank (1792-1878) and the German artist Joseph Satler (1867-1931). As a book illustrator he is the true successor to the great Victorian triumvirate of Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane, and Kate Greenaway. Rackham was one of the most significant artists and illustrators of his day. His books and artwork sold very well during his lifetime–and even better after his death. More than any other artist, Rackham "has kept the fairy world alive for children in the twentieth century," and today he is best remembered for his creation of humanlike trees, gnarled and wizened human faces, and a virtual cornucopia of gnomes, trolls, and fairies who populate the world of our imagination.