Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts by George Charles Beresford (1903)

Charles de Sousy Ricketts was born in Geneva in 1866. The son of an English father and a French mother, he spent his childhood and youth in Switzerland, England and France. He settled in London in 1880 and entered the City and Guilds Art School in Kennington in 1882. It was here, on his sixteenth birthday, that he met his lifelong partner Charles Haslewood Shannon. Three years his senior, Shannon was born at Sleaford in Lincolnshire in 1863. Both Ricketts and Shannon studied printmaking at the City and Guilds Art School in Kennington.

Artistic and personal partners for more than fifty years, Ricketts and Shannon designed and illustrated books, established an occasional art journal, The Dial, in 1889 and founded the Vale Press in 1894. Named after their house, The Vale, in Chelsea, they published a total of about 75 books, including a complete reprint of the works of Shakespeare. Following a fire in 1899, when most of the book stock and decorative materials were destroyed, they closed Vale Press in 1904.

Key figures in the London art world since the 1890s, Ricketts and Shannon moved in a wide circle of artist friends. These included the poet and playwright Gordon Bottomley, the book illustrator Edmund Dulac, the portrait painter William Rothenstein and, most famously, Oscar Wilde. The meeting of these friends resulted in an abundance of portraits, amongst which Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon as Medieval Saints, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Ricketts and Shannon also worked as illustrators for Wilde. Ricketts, for example, illustrated The Sphinx in 1895. In 1932 he also wrote Recollections of Oscar Wilde, homage to the man he considered the most remarkable man he had met. (source)

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    Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts by George Charles Beresford (1903)
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