Pamela Colman Smith

BookPamela Colman Smith

Pamela Colman Smith

Artist, Feminist, and Mystic

Clemson University Press


July 6th, 2021

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Pamela Colman Smith’s illustrations for the Rider Waite tarot deck are known to millions worldwide, but her work took her from art galleries in New York and Europe to salons with luminaries of the English suffrage movement, the Irish literary revival, and friendships with Bram Stoker, W. B. Yeats, and G. K. Chesterton. A feminist artist, poet, folklorist, editor, publisher, and stage designer who was active from 1896 through the 1920s, Colman Smith became popular for her live performances of Jamaican folktales in   both England and the U.S., using the creole of the island to capture the dramatic power of these tales while driving speculation about her purposefully indeterminate racial and sexual identity. She also travelled in - and was expelled from – occult circles, and her ability to take on and cast aside a wide range of identities was central to her life’s work. Colman Smith illustrated more than 20 books and well over a hundred magazine articles, wrote two collections of Jamaican folktales, and edited two magazines. Her paintings were exhibited in galleries in the U.S. and Europe.

'Foley O’Connor takes the reader on a moving ride through Colman Smith’s unconventional and trailblazing life. [...] With passion and dedication to her subject, Foley O’Connor portrays Colman Smith as a magical tour de force; she details Colman Smith’s small victories and massive losses in an informative tone that still makes for an emotional read as we watch Colman Smith achieve a modicum of success only for it to be lost or taken away again. [...] Through the eyes of Foley O’Connor, Pixie has a second chance to be appreciated for the thoroughly modern woman and artist she was.'Jill O'Connor, Supernatural Studies

Author Information

Elizabeth Foley O’Connor is an Associate Professor of English at Washington College, where she teaches classes in modernism, twentieth century British literature, postcolonial literature, journalism, and composition. She has published essays on Pamela Colman Smith, James Joyce, Lizzie Twigg, Kate O’Brien, Jean Rhys, Ford Madox Ford, and fin de siecle little magazines. Her reviews have appeared in Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies, the James Joyce Quarterly, the Joyce Studies Annual, and the Woolf Studies Annual. She wrote the biography section for Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story, a mass market art book, published in 2018.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures 9
1. Naming and Identity: Family, Miniature Theater, and Jamaican Residence37
2. Forging a Path: Critical Reception, Key Influences, and Emergence as an Artist69
3. Becoming Pixie: Friendship, Synaesthesia, and The Green Sheaf105
4. Art on Her Own Terms: Anansi Stories, the Green Sheaf Press, and “Music Pictures”143
5. Feminist Symbolic Art: Tarot Designs, Suffrage Posters, and Representations of Women191