Corinne Pamela Colman SMITH

Pamela Colman Smith (1878-1951) was an artist, illustrator and writer. Her chief claim to fame is designing the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of tarot cards for Arthur Edward Waite. Smith was born in England to American parents, and grew up in Jamaica. She toured with the theatre company of Ellen Terry and Henry Irving in the late 1890s, where she joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and met Waite.

She also did a great deal of illustration work for William Butler Yeats and his brother Jack, but apart from this deck, her art found little commercial success. In addition to the tarot deck, Smith wrote and illustrated several books about Jamaican folklore, including Annancy Stories (1902) which were about Jamaican versions of tales involving the traditional African folk figure Anansi the Spider. As she approached the age of forty, Pamela received a small inheritance, and moved to the English coast to an artists' colony at the Lizard, Cornwall. Eventually, suffering from both physical problems and shrinking financial means, Pamela relocated to Bude, Cornwall, during WWII. Unfortunately, the original art work for her tarot deck has disappeared, and the original printing plates were destroyed during the bombing of London in the war.


Artist, illustrator and writer

works and access

Works include: designed the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of tarot cards; text and illustrations for Annancy Stories (1902)  

Access to works: Stieglitz Collection, Yale University, New Haven


Paris; Dowdeswell; RA; SS; NW; NAG December 1926 (Craft section)


Ellen Terry and Henry Irving Theatre Company; The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn


The Cornishman December 1926


Dowdeswell Exhibition catalogue (see Hardie 2009)

Gaze (1997) Dictionary of Women Artists


Greer (1995) Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses

Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p270)

Kaplan (1990) The Encyclopedia of Tarot Volume III

Rudhyar (1974) An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformations and its 360 Symbolic Phases

Sharf & Wright CEL Green

Schulman (1975) Karmic Astrology: The Moon's Nodes and Reincarnation Vol I

Whybrow Remembering St Ives

Wood Victorian Painters;