“THE CULT OF PERVERSITY AND IRONY”: BEARDSLEY’S FAMED PERIODICAL THE YELLOW BOOK, WITH HUNDREDS OF STRIKING ART NOUVEAU ILLUSTRATIONS
BEARDSLEY, Aubrey. The Yellow Book: An Illustrated Quarterly. London: Elkin Mathews & John Lane [The Bodley Head]; Boston: Copeland & Day, 1894-97. Thirteen volumes. Octavo, original black-stamped yellow cloth. $2300.
Mixed edition of Beardsley’s celebrated art-nouveau quarterly, profusely illustrated with 220 plates after designs by Beardsley, Sickert, Crane, Sargent, Beerbohm, Leighton and many others. With literary contributions by such distinguished men of letters as Yeats, Wells, James, France, and Grahame.
This renowned journal was conceived in 1894 by Beardsley and the American novelist Henry Harland, who explained: “In one of the densest and soupiest and yellowest of all London’s infernalest fogs, Beardsley and I sat together the whole afternoon… We thought it quite a pity that London publishers should feel themselves under any obligation to refuse any of our good manuscripts… And then and there we decided to have a magazine of our own… Beardsley was responsible for the cover designs for the first five volumes and more importantly, for setting the aesthetic tone for the entire publication.” “It was the fin-de-siècle morbidity and eroticism in his work which made Beardsley notorious. The cult of perversity and irony was given further stimulus through his contributions to two of the sacred books of the Aesthetic Movement, The Yellow Book and The Savoy” (Harthan, 235). The Yellow Book continued publication until 1897, opening its pages to a wide variety of artists and writers, whose collective efforts exemplified the cultural spirit of the turn-of-the-century. It is nearly impossible to determine which edition a Yellow Book is, as “so many sets have been ‘made up’ and the details are so perplexing that rational codification may well prove impossible” (Lasner, Beardsley 65). This set is comprised of issues both with and without advertisements; all are apparently early printings, since none bears the cover-stamp of a later edition. Lasner, Beardsley Checklist 65. Evidence of owner signature in volume I.
Usual scattered light foxing; mild wear to spine extremities. A very desirable set.