- New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2013.
- 6 x 9 inches
- hardcover, dust jacket
- 160 pages
- ISBN: 1584563176
- ISBN: 9781584563174
Price: $39.95 other currencies
Order Nr. 110254
Ethel Reed (1874-1912) is one of the most elusive figures in the history of American graphic design. Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, she moved in the 1890s to Boston, where, while still in her early twenties, she achieved international recognition for her posters - and for her personal glamour. "The beautiful poster lady" is how newspapers of the day described her, and they often went on to claim that she was the most famous woman artist in America. Ethel Reed was an extraordinarily vivid personality of the fin de siècle and a striking early example of a media celebrity.
But in 1896, following a broken engagement, she sailed to Europe, contributed to the two final issues of the Yellow Book in London, and then, after the turn of the century, vanished in the fog (to use her own phrase). Now William S. Peterson, through meticulous archival research, has at last been able to reconstruct the story of her life in England. Though unsuccessful in renewing her artistic career, she found lovers there, bore two children, and eventually married Arthur Warwick, an English army officer. Yet the marriage fell apart immediately, and her final years were darkened by poverty, drug addiction, and alcoholism.
This is the only book-length treatment of her work as a designer - and the first successful attempt to recover Ethel Reed's enigmatic, hidden life. It includes 16 color plates of her posters and 47 black-and-white illustrations.
William S. Peterson (Professor Emeritus of English, University of Maryland), a bibliographer and book historian, has edited three scholarly journals and has written or edited sixteen books, the most recent of which is (in collaboration with Sylvia Holton Peterson) The Kelmscott Chaucer: A Census (Oak Knoll Press, 2011). One of his books was nominated for a National Book Award, and another was the winner of the 1993 Felice Feliciano Award. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Visiting Fellow at Exeter College, Oxford.