Edmund Evans was an English wood-engraver and colour printer during the Victorian era. Evans specialized in full-colour printing, which, in part because of his work, became popular in the mid-19th century. He employed and collaborated with illustrators such as Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway and Richard Doyle to produce what are now considered to be classic children’s books.
About Edmund Evans in brief
Edmund Evans was an English wood-engraver and colour printer during the Victorian era. Evans specialized in full-colour printing, which, in part because of his work, became popular in the mid-19th century. He employed and collaborated with illustrators such as Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway and Richard Doyle to produce what are now considered to be classic children’s books. Although little is known about his life, he wrote a short autobiography before his death in 1905 in which he described his life as a printer in Victorian London. Evans used a woodblock printing technique known as chromoxylography, which was used primarily for inexpensive serialised books. He used a hand-press and as many as a dozen colour blocks for a single image. Evans was born in Southwark, London, on 23 February 1826, to Henry and Mary Evans. He attended school in Jamaica Row, where he enjoyed mathematics but wished he had learned Latin. As a 13-year-old he began work as a reading boy at the printing house of Samuel Bentley in London in 1839. He was reassigned as a general errand boy because his stutter interfered with his duties. Evans started with Landells in 1840. When his apprenticeship ended in 1847, Evans, then 21, refused an offer of employment from Landells, deciding instead to go into business for himself. In 1848 Evans engraved a title-page illustration, among other commissions, for the Illustrated London News.
He went on to become the preeminent wood engraver in Britain during the second half of the 19th century, and was friends with Myles Birket Foster, John Greenaway, George Dalziel and George DalZiel. In the early 1860s, he began to print children’s toy books and picture books in association with the printing company Routledge and Warne. For three decades he produced multiple volumes each year, first illustrated by Crane, and later by CaldecOTT and Greenaway. Evans had three sons, Wilfred and Herbert, by the time he died in 1905. He is buried at Racquet Court, Racquet, near London, in what is now known as the Racquet Park Cemetery, in the south of the city. He also had two younger brothers, Herbert and Wilfred, who he left to his two younger sons after his death. He had a son, Herbert, who is now a well-known author and illustrator of children’s books, and a daughter, Fanny Fern, who has written a number of books. Evans worked and became friends with artists such as MylesBirket Foster and George Dalziel. He engraved three prints for Ida Pfeiffer’s Travels in the Land, printed in a dark-brown hue; the other two were in a buff and a grayish-blue hue on white paper on the same firm, and used bright reds, reds and white.