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Friday’s library snapshot … Aubrey Beardsley

January 18, 2013

Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) as a student of music and literature at Brighton Grammar school he also had a talent for drawing. However, it was not until he met Edward Burne Jones in 1892 and attended evening classes at the Westminster School of Art that he was considered an artist.  During this time he was working as a clerk and suffering from the after effects of tuberculosis. While he enjoyed good health he was able to develop his artistic skills and make good connections in the art and literature world. So he was soon able to give up his clerical position and establish himself as a major Modern artist.
He began by illustrating the new edition of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur and then the volume series of Bon Mots.
In 1893 he illustrated Salome, the Symbolist play by Oscar Wilde, the result was greeted with much attention and controversy.  In the minds of the public, the illustrator and author became linked.  So when Oscar was found guilty and imprisoned for committing indecent acts, Beardsley was considered guilty by association.
As a result he was dismissed from his recent commission the Yellow Book.  However it was not long before he had set up a rival periodical the Savoy with the help from the decadent poet Arthur Symons and pornographic publisher Leonard Smithers.  This relationship was instrumental in the publication of the Rape of the lock by Alexander Pope and Lysistrata by Aristophanes in 1896.
His health began to deteriorate and in an attempt to regain his strength, he sought spiritual solace and converted to Catholicism and spent time the warmer climes of Europe where he died aged 25.  

Aubrey beardsley 1

Aubrey Beardsley

Book binding by Aubrey Beardsley

Aubrey Beardsley

Aubrey Beardsley

Book cover by Aubrey Beardsley

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