Ralph Fletcher Seymour
(18 March 1876 – 1 January
1966) was an American artist, author, and publisher of the late
nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Though long based in
Chicago, he was also noted for his work in the American
Southwest; he studied, wrote about, and portrayed the Native American
cultures of the region.
was born in Milan,
Illinois, and studied
in Cincinnati with Lewis Meakin and Vincent Nowattny, and later
in Paris as well. He taught decorative illustration at the
Art Institute of
Chicago, and was an artist-in-residence at Knox College.
He painted, and produced
etchings, woodcuts and block prints. He was a noted designer of
For a time around the turn of the twentieth century, Seymour was
associated with L. Frank Baum
, and worked on Baum's books
By the Candelabra's
Goose: His Book
(1899), and American Fairy Tales
Seymour illustrated or designed a range of books, often in
high-quality limited editions, including Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the
(1899), John Keats
The Eve of St. Agnes
(1900), John Milton
's Ode on the Morning of
(1901), Percy Bysshe Shelley
's A Defence of Poetry
Biblical Book of Ruth
and William Blake
's Songs of Innocence and
For almost seven decades, Seymour ran his own book publishing firm
in Chicago. Among the works he published were Frank Lloyd Wright
's The Japanese
(1912) and Experimenting with Human Lives
(1923), and Alice Corbin
Earth: Poems of New Mexico
(1920). Notably, he published
Henry Blake Fuller
(1919), a novel about homosexuals in Chicago and
an early example of Gay literature
America. Seymour's Alderbrink Press maintained traditions of the
Arts and Crafts Movement
into the 1950s.
Seymour wrote Across the Gulf
(1928), about his travels in
southern Mexico — another expression of his interest in Native
American cultures. He also published his own account of his life
and art, in which he stated that the Chicago artists of his
generation saw themselves as "peculiarly American" practitioners
who disregarded "European, eastern or conventional rules for
guidance in saying what they wanted to say."
He died in
Illinois in 1966, at
the age of 89.
- Peter H. Falk et al., Who Was Who in American Art,
1564–1975, Madison, CT, Soundview Press, 1999.
- Doris O. Dawdy, Artists of the American West: A
Biographical Dictionary, Chicago, Swallow Press, 1981.
- Katharine M. Rogers, L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A
Biography, New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002; pp. 65, 67, 93,
- Kathryn Mary Camp, Ralph Fletcher Seymour and His
Alderbrink Press (Chicago, 1898–1965): A History and Checklist of
His Publications, Chicago, University of Chicago, 1979.
- Susan O. Thompson, American Book Design and William
Morris, New York, R. R. Bowker, 1977; pp. 105-10 and
- Ralph Fletcher Seymour, Across the Gulf: A Narration of a
Short Journey Through Parts of the Yucatan with a Brief Account of
the Ancient Maya Civilzation, Chicago, Alderbrink Press,
- Ralph Fletcher Seymour, Some Went This Way: A Forty Year
Pilgrimage Among Artists, Bookmen and Printers, Chicago, Ralph
Fletcher Seymour Co., 1945; p. 9.