William T. Horton.

Chris Ford: Affinity &emdash; Horton1

Click for full size.

William T. Horton is an artist little know these days. His work is stark, yet full of expressiveness and intensity. The Public Domain has an excellent article up, with many images. Just a few more here. Click all for full size.

The publisher Leonard Smithers (1861–1907) launched, bankrolled or otherwise helped the careers of an impressive variety of names: Richard Burton, Aubrey Beardsley, Aleister Crowley, Ernest Dowson, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, and Max Beerbohm were all referred to as “Smithers People” at one time or another. He drew to his circle the most eccentric and interesting characters of the era and in 1896 launched the arts and literary magazine the Savoy to showcase many of them. Aubrey Beardsley was made art editor while Arthur Symons was placed at the editorial helm. While not entirely a “Decadent” outfit (it also published George Bernard Shaw and Joseph Conrad), the magazine became a lightning rod for the curious and in it, as Bernard Muddiman wrote, “the abnormal, the bizarre, found their true home”1. It also launched the career of an illustrator and mystic named William T. Horton. Arguably one of the most fascinating and most unusual of all the “Smithers People”, he published very little work and remains almost completely unknown today.

Chris Ford: Affinity &emdash; Horton2

The Path to the Moon from Horton’s A Book of Images (1898). Click for full size.

Chris Ford: Affinity &emdash; Horton3

Horton’s cover for Knut Hamsun’s Hunger (1899) — Source: private scan from book. Click for full size.

Chris Ford: Affinity &emdash; Horton4

One of two Horton images featured in H. Rider Haggard’s The Mahatma and the Hare, a Dream Story (1911) — Source. Click for full size.

You can read and see much more at The Public Domain. Horton’s A Book of Images can be seen in its entirety here. W.B. Yeats’s introduction to A Book of Images is well worth reading, too.


  1. says

    He was a remarkable artist, and it’s well worth reading Yeats’s intro to his book of images. Yeats was a staunch friend of Horton’s, and promoted his work as much as possible. Horton managed an impressive amount of expression in very few lines indeed, something which escapes most artists.

  2. says

    My fave will probably always be seducing spirits. I want a seducing spirit of my own. Although if given the chance to have one really large print, I would go with Trees Walking.

  3. rq says

    Path to the Moon
    the woman in the grass
    all of the city- and land-scapes (these are reminiscent of some stuff I tried to do in the Waybackwhen)

    He’s quite wonderful. Some of Tolkien’s illustrations for his own Hobbit have a similar feel though a far less simple style.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    While I haven’t said all that much, I’ve enjoyed the Fleurs series and will enjoy the Horton series.

    An idea somewhat related to these serieses* is the Book of Copies by San Rocco architecture magazine (which I’ve never read). The book is a collection of pictures of architecture. I quickly leafed through part II of the paper version on Sunday.

    * = I’ve lost the correct plural so I’m constructing one

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