Robinson Crusoe Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth was what the cover read. It was one of the classic and famously beloved volumes published by Scribners in the early 20th century. The book was a solid hard-cover edition that looked good and felt good to the hand. The illustrations were compelling, lush, heroic things that as far as I remember discovering was truly “love at first.” For all it’s worth this encounter was something that has hooked me for life; the love of illustration, books and most particularly the illustration work of the master; Newell Convers Wyeth.
Wyeth had illustrated Treasure Island, The Last of the Mohicans, The Yearling and others in his time for Scribners. His work was always colorful and exciting. When I found Robinson Crusoe in the school library I had no idea how renowned N. C. Wyeth was. I just knew he was phenomenal in what he was doing and I was always able to imagine and wonder, even becoming lost in his detailed emotionally realistic visions. Wyeth towers among the best and is still much an inspiration for me.
Wyeth would influence generation of young people including his children, especially his son Andy who became equally famous in his own right and then grandson Jamie who continues the family legacy. The Wyeths are certainly America’s finest and most cherished family of the visual arts. They are also great ambassadors of excellence and accomplishment.
In a rite of passage when our school closed due to integration in 1966 we were allowed to take one book from the school library. Robinson Crusoe Illustrated by N.C. Wyeth was my; without hesitation, choice. I have it even now and as I hold it and peruse it, I remain in awe as it makes me smile.