Arthur Rackham first editions go under the hammer for more than £40,000

A Christmas Carol signed and inscribed by Rackham

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A collection of first edition books illustrated by Arthur Rackham has fetched more than £40,000 at auction.

The 26 books were sold at Sworders' auction rooms in Stansted Mountfitchet in Essex.

Twenty-one of the books are signed and inscribed with humorous pen and ink drawings by the by the 20th Century illustrator.

Rackham is known for his illustrations in A Christmas Carol, Gulliver's Travels and Wind in the Willows.

He died in 1939 and is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators of the last century.

Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham was born in London in 1867

In 1903 he married portrait painter Edyth Starkie

The publication of Rip Van Winkle two years later established him as the leading illustrator of the period

World War One effectively destroyed the illustrated gift-book market in Britain, and Rackham increasingly found his best market in the US

His final work, published in 1940 - a year after his death from cancer - was Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows

Source: Peter Harrington Rare Books

The books were all given as presents to his wife's sister and her husband and were handed down through the family who live on the Essex/Hertfordshire border.

Each book has has a cloth cover with gilt embossed titles.

Sworders' managing director Guy Schooling said: "The vignettes are absolutely exquisite.

"They're of a high quality and packed with humour - it's a rare find."

Since his death at the age of 71, Rackham's work has grown in popularity and his images have been featured in greeting cards.

Arthur Rackham died in 1939 and is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators of the last century.

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