University of Texas at Austin

Edward Gordon Craig:

An Inventory of His Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966
Title: Edward Gordon Craig Art Collection
Dates: 1890-1930
Extent: 118 items
Abstract: The Edward Gordon Craig Art Collection consists of numerous wood engravings and proofs of engravings, the bulk of which were created for the Cranach Press German (1928) and English (1930) editions of Hamlet. The collection also includes two portraits by his son, Edward Anthony Craig (pseudonym Edward Carrick). The collection includes woodcut engravings, lithographs, proofs, bookplates, paintings, and crayon drawings of images such as portraits and landscapes, some of which are published.
Call Number: Art Collection AR-00048
Language: English
Access: Open for research. Please note that a minimum of 24 hours notice is required to pull art materials to the Ransom Center's Reading and Viewing Room. Some materials may be restricted from viewing. To make an appointment or to reserve art materials, please contact the Center's staff at

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 1973-1981

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Edward Gordon Craig was born in Hertfordshire, England on 16 January 1872, the son of architect Edward William Godwin (1833-1886) and actress Ellen Alice Terry (1847-1928). He was named Edward Godwin at birth, baptised as Edward Henry Gordon sixteen years later, and adopted the surname Craig when he was 21. Craig was introducted to the art of wood engraving in the last years of the 19th century by artists James Pryde and William Nicholson. Engraving became an enduring passion for Craig. He worked as an actor and manager in the company of Sir Henry Iriving in the 1890s, but in the new century turned to stage design and direction for numerous productions in theaters throughout England, and in Berlin, Florence, and Moscow. Introducing innovations in the use of atmospheric, abstract, and highly dramatic lighting, colors, and stage effects, Craig's stage direction was revolutionary. After the turn of the century, Craig mainly resided in Europe. He created his theater magazine The Mask in 1908 (the publication ran until 1929), founded the School for the Art of the Theatre in 1913 in Florence, and published On the Art of the Theatre in 1911, all of which disseminated his radically new ideas. While Craig had continued to create wood engravings throughout his stage designing career, frequently using wood blocks as figures for stage models, he began concentrating on this art in the 1930s. Craig also began writing more prolifically during this time, publishing a biography of Sir Henry Irving and his mother, Ellen Terry. He completed a memoir of his early years, Index to the Story of My Days, 1872-1907, in 1957. Craig remained a significant figure in the worlds of theater and the arts up until his death in Vence, France on 29 July 1966, and his ideas in stage and print design have proved lastingly influential.


James Hamilton, ‘Craig, (Edward Henry) Gordon (1872–1966)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008 [, accessed 28 April 2017].

Scope and Contents

The majority of items in the collection are proofs of wood engravings for the Cranach Press editions of Hamlet (1928 and 1930). Also included are proofs of several bookplates for Enid Rose, author of Gordon Craig and the Theatre (1931), and portraits, including an early woodcut engraving of author Walt Whitman, and dancer Isadora Duncan.

Related Material

Photographs of Edward Gordon Craig and his family can be found in the Edward Gordon Craig Literary File Photography Collection; set designs, models, and woodcuts in the W. H. Crain Costume and Scenic Design Collection; and works and correspondence in the Arnold Bennett Collection (MS-0334), Edward Gordon Craig Collection (MS-00960), J. L. (James Louis) Garvin Papers (MS-1553), Carlton Lake Collection of French Manuscripts (TXRC06-A21), Donald Wolfit Papers (R12539), Edward Carrick Papers (FI-005), and the George Bernard Shaw Collection (TXRC99-A3).

Index Terms


Carrick, Edward, 1905-1998.
Duncan, Isadora, 1877-1827.
Kessler, Harry, Graf, 1868-1937.
Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892.

Document Types

Charcoal drawings.
Wood engravings.

Item List