The British actor, director and artist Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966) was the son of actress Ellen Terry and designer Edwin Godwin. He began his professional career as an actor with Henry Irving’s company at his Lyceum Theatre in London. Craig played Hamlet in 1894 and again in 1896, but gave up acting soon after. His interest in art and design became more important to him and ultimately, occupied all his time and energies.
It was in Uxbridge around 1893 that Craig met the artists James Ferrier Pryde and William Nicholson, from whom he learned to make prints and in particular, fell in love with the woodcut. In 1898, Craig started a magazine, The Page, which he edited, illustrated, and published as an outlet for his own work. In less than two years, he had completed nearly 200 woodblocks and published Gordon Craig’s Book of Penny Toys.
Craig moved to Germany in 1904, where he wrote and published On the Art of the Theatre. A few years later, Constantin Stanislavski invited him to direct Hamlet with the Moscow Arts Theatre. Craig also designed the sets, using a series of neutral, movable screens. He later presented a set to William Butler Yeats for use at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.