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Down by the Riverside ~ Richard Wright ~ Color Etchings by John Wilson

     Each step he took made the old house creak as though the earth beneath the foundations were soggy.  He wondered how long the logs which supported the house could stand against the water. But what really worried him were the steps; they might wash away at any moment, and then they would be trapped.  He had spent all that morning trying to make them secure with frayed rope, but he did not have much faith . . . He pulled back a tattered curtain . . . Through a dingy pane he saw yellow water swirling around a corner of the barn.  A steady drone filled his ears.

              Down By The Riverside  Richard Wright 1938

Read the rest of this searing, dramatic and enthralling story to which Wright gave the deceptively tranquil title Down By The Riverside.  So inspired was the artist John Wilson that he created four powerful colored etchings for the book.  As he tells us in his passionate Afterword,

      In the early forties, I read Richard Wright’s Uncle Tom’s Children . . . identifying with his characters struggling to survive with dignity. I understood more clearly the role of terror and uncompromising violence.
      I chose to illustrate this story because of Wright’s vivid dramatic setting. Etching techniques like aquatint and spit biting were ideal to interpret the dark brooding, murky atmosphere. Above all, the river with its powerful currents and its violent energy . . . seemed to symbolize basic forces of nature. I wanted the blue translucent shapes and flowing rhythms of the water to carry the figures from one episode to the next.

  • One volume, 17” x 13”
  • Four color etchings by John Wilson
  • Afterword by John Wilson
  • Edition limited to three hundred copies
  • Newsletter
  • Each signed by John Wilson

 

The blue linen binding of the book echoes the blue of Wilson’s color etchings. The same blue fabric also covers the hinged and lined box that protects the book.  2001. $ 1,500.

First Page

First Page

John Wilson Etching

John Wilson Etching

The Story Continues

The Story Continues

John Wilson Etching

John Wilson Etching

Colophon Page

Colophon Page

Newsletter

Newsletter

Book and Cover

Book and Cover