CHARLES RICKETTS, English editor, artist, publisher, born. There have always been Gay couples, living discreet and not entirely secret lives together, that have managed to enjoy happy partnerships, free of scandal and sensation. Such a marriage ‒ and it was a marriage ‒ was enjoyed by Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, two English artists of note. Although both pursued independent careers as painters (Ricketts was also a stage designer whose work anticipated Bakst), they served as joint editors of the Dial before Ricketts founded the Vale Press in 1896 and designed some of the most beautiful collectors’ books ever printed.
Their friendship was an open secret and they moved undisturbed within London’s Gay circle throughout the Oscar Wilde years and after. Both, in fact, were present at the very Gay twenty-first birthday party for Vyvyan Holland, Oscar Wilde’s son. (Others present included Henry James, Ronald Firbank, Robbie Ross and Reggie Turner.) Ricketts and Shannon lived together for more than 50 years. Their greatest issue seemed to be what to do if the telephone rang and asked for “Charlie.”