Donald Vanouse, SUNY Oswego

Document Type



Fall 1976


Stephen Crane, illustrations, The Black Riders and Other Lines, Roycroft Quarterly, parody




Arts and Humanities | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Theory and Criticism


Not long ago, on a visit to the George Arents Research Library at Syracuse University, I saw a bizarre little illustration on the cover of the Roycroft Quarterly occasioned by the publication of Stephen Crane's first volume of poems, The Black Riders and Other Lines. (Boston: Copeland and Day, 1895). The Roycrofters had substituted polka-dotted rocking horses for the death symbols of Crane's black horsemen. The imagery seemed a surprising anticipation of the Dadaism which occurred about twenty years later in the wake of World War I. The Beardsleyesque, Art Nouveau style of the drawing exemplified the ironies of Crane's work and the rich relationship between literature and the visual arts during the 1890's. Furthermore, the design of the Roycroft Quarterly showed that the Roycroft Workshops at East Aurora, New York, were capable of more valuable work than the critical commentary in the literature on Elbert Hubbard and the Roycrofters had suggested. Thus, in addition to providing a brilliant parody of Stephen Crane's poetry, the cover drawing pointed toward a reconsideration of the achievements of the Roycroft workshops themselves.


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