Pamela Colman Smith’s Annancy Stories


Pamela Colman Smith’s work has appeared here before but this is an example of her early illustration I hadn’t seen until now. Annancy Stories (1899) was written and illustrated by Smith, being her own presentation of the Jamaican versions of the Anansi trickster stories. Smith’s mother was Jamaican, and the family lived in Kingston for some years before moving to New York. She was only 20 when she produced this book which is illustrated throughout with full-page plates and smaller drawings. The text is in a Jamaican patois which, as the introduction notes, would have reminded American readers of the Brer Rabbit stories. There is, of course, a shared lineage there that goes back to Africa. The drawings are in a sketchier style than the marvellous Tarot designs Smith produced for the Rider-Waite deck nearly a decade later but you can see in them the origins of her late Art Nouveau style, and also that distinctive monogram in the corner of each drawing. Annacy Stories may be browsed here or downloaded here.



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