An Almanac of Twelve Sports by William Nicholson,
The Almanac was first published by Heinemann in London for Christmas 1897 with a calendar for the year 1898.
Sir William Nicholson was a late 19th Century painter and print-maker. His experiments with woodcut printing encouraged the development of his distinctive pictorial style. After making his name with a series of twelve portraits of public figures (which won a gold medal at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris) he moved on to produce this Almanac of twelve sports for his new publisher, Heinemann.
The accompanying text was provided by the poet Rudyard Kipling. Kipling was not an enthusiastic sportsman, in fact he derided 'flannelled fools at the wicket' and 'muddied oafs at the goal' in his poem The Islanders however, after sitting for a Nicholson portrait, he agreed to provide a set of short poems to match the depicted sports.
Kipling adopted a concise and suggestive style for the poems, harking back to his Departmental ditties of the 1880's. One verse at least, the draft couplet for the coaching party depicted in August, was considered too suggestive by half and was excised by Heinemann as unsuitable for the family audience he had in mind:
'Youth on the box and liquor in the boot / My Lord drives out with my Lord's prostitute.'