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We’re big fans of classic woodcuts here at greatbritishghosts, a classic art form which has undoubtedly seen a resurgence of late through the public’s love of gothic literature and classic prints. Which is why when we were offered the chance to review the fantastic ‘Graven Images : the art of the woodcut ‘ by Jon Crabb and published by British Library Publishing

Undeniably in the sixteenth and seventeenth century the introduction of the printing press revolutionised the means in which news was passed amongst the masses. In this new age printed broadsides were posted everywhere, depicting the topical tales of the time. Usually printed in Germanic gothic font these tales followed the trends of the time- and were mostly accompanied with a woodcut. Woodcuts ranged from the mundane characters of the time (farmers, soldiers) right through to the utter fantastical (witches, ghosts, demons and other horrors) all wonderfully depicted.

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These iconic images of the time became notorious in some of the biggest stories of the age. These stories range from the infamous witch trials showing the horrendous burning of innocent women right through to legendary folk tales and reputed stories, representing the age’s daily news. On top of which it’s also wonderful to get a finger on the pulse of the times, getting an insight into the daily humour of the masses and the political and topical views of the public. Amidst such horrors and undeniably a hardship in lifestyle, it’s intriguing to see such resilience and humour coming through.

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In this stunningly presented book Jon Crabb walks us thorough some of the most attractive woodcuts of the age, all beautifully presented with annotations. Alongside it’s also wonderful to see an introduction from Reece shearsmith, especially with his interest in the subject and fantastic period performances of ‘a field in England’ and Inside No.9′s  ‘The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge’ (An episode which undeniably needs a TV series alone).


For any fan of woodcuts or sixteenth / seventeenth history this book is an absolute must. Not to mention a fantastic addition to any fan of gothic literature and art – make sure you get your copy from