Introduction by BLAKE MORRISON
The Children’s Crusade of 1212 remains an enigmatic historical episode, recorded in only a few contemporary accounts, but it captured the imagination of the acclaimed painter Paula Rego as a story steeped in imaginative possibilities and contemporary relevance. It touches not only on children’s love of adventure but also on darker issues including fears of the unknown, incipient sexuality and exploitation.
Following her much admired collaboration with the poet Blake Morrison, Pendle Witches (Enitharmon, 1996), Rego has turned more specifically here to the tradition of the illustrated book as a way of constructing her own narrative in purely visual terms. The twelve hand-coloured etchings through which she tells the tale synthesise figure studies from life with startling transformations of traditional religious imagery and purely invented situations. In his introduction, Blake Morrison brilliantly illuminates the pictures and their relation to the crusade, and the scene is set by two passages from medieval chronicles. The book concludes with an extensive and revealing interview with Paula Rego, in which she explains her fascination with the subject and its relationship to her work as a whole.
The text has been hand-set in Monotype Caslon, printed on Arches Vélin at The Stonehouse Press, and bound at The Fine Bindery, who have also made the slipcase for the de luxe edition. The de luxe edition of 75 copies, signed by Paula Rego and Blake Morrison, contains Rego’s signed original etching Bait, which is laid loose into a wallet in the slipcase; the etching has been printed on 300gsm Somerset Velvet at the Culford Press, London.