About the illustrator (from wikipedia):
Arthur Rackham is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration which roughly encompassed the years from 1890 until the end of the First World War. During that period, there was a strong market for high quality illustrated books which typically were given as Christmas gifts. Many of Rackham’s books were produced in a de luxe limited edition, often vellum bound and sometimes signed, as well as a larger, less ornately bound quarto ‘trade’ edition. This was often followed by a more modestly presented octavo edition in subsequent years for particularly popular books. The onset of the war in 1914 curtailed the market for such quality books, and the public’s taste for fantasy and fairies also declined in the 1920s.
Arthur Rackham’s works have become very popular since his death, both in North America and Britain. His images have been widely used by the greeting card industry and many of his books are still in print or have been recently available in both paperback and hardback editions. His original drawings and paintings are keenly sought at the major international art auction houses.
About the book (from wikipedia):
The Ingoldsby Legends is a collection of myths, legends, ghost stories and poetry written supposedly by Thomas Ingoldsby of Tappington Manor, actually a pen-name of an English clergyman named Richard Harris Barham.
The legends were first printed during 1837 as a regular series in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany and later in New Monthly Magazine. The legends were illustrated by John Leech and George Cruikshank. They proved immensely popular and were compiled into books published in 1840, 1842 and 1847 by Richard Bentley. They remained popular during the 19th century but have since become little known. An omnibus edition was published in 1879: The Ingoldsby Legends; or Mirth and marvels.
As a priest of the Chapel Royal, Barham was not troubled with strenuous duties and he had ample time to read and compose stories. Although based on real legends and mythology, such as the “hand of glory”, they are mostly deliberately humorous parodies or pastiches of medieval folklore and poetry.
The collection contains one of the earliest transcriptions of the song A Franklyn’s Dogge, an early version of the modern children’s song Bingo. Other than this, the best-known poem of the collection is the Jackdaw of Rheims about a jackdaw who steals a cardinal’s ring and is made a saint.