New York: R.H. Russell, 1899.
First Edition. Hardcover. Good. 9.5 x 12.5 inches, 79 pp, illustrated throughout. Bound in original tan cloth-backed illustrated paper boards (a variant binding, as this book is usually seen with a green cloth spine and the cover art in color). Boards are rubbed along the edges, with outer paper worn away at corners, but are generally well preserved. Stiching is starting to crack between pages 24 and 25, with four leaves partially detached and chipped at the fore edge. Otherwise sound and clean; good. Best known as the creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, Pamela Colman Smith (1878 -1951) was a prolific illustrator and painter, costume and set designer, folklorist, poet, publisher, and suffragette. She was a friend of and collaborator with many key participants in the British Aesthetic and Decadent movements. Born in London to American parents, she spent much of her childhood in Jamaica, where she became interested in the local folklore. In 1896, at the age of 18, she contributed two tales of Jamaica, written in the African-derived patois dialect, to the Journal of American Folklore. Three years later, she published Annancy Stories, an expanded collection of Caribbean folktales, also written in a Jamaican patois. According to Kaplan (Pamela Colman Smith, The Untold Story, 2018), her drawings for Annancy Stories are "the first known published drawings of Anansi, a traditional African folktale character who is also one of the most important characters in Caribbean folklore." Tales featuring Anansi, who usually takes the shape of a spider, originated in West Africa and were transmitted to the Caribbean by way of the transatlantic slave trade. A trickster, Anansi was celebrated for his ability to triumph over more powerful opponents through his use of cunning and creativity and was symbol of slave resistance and survival.