Biography and History

Aubrey Beardsley, English artist, book illustrator, and writer, was born on August 21, 1872 in Brighton, England. He showed signs of intelligence and talent from a young age, developing writing, musical, and drawing skills. Unfortunately, Beardsley was also afflicted with poor health from a young age, infected with tuberculosis by age seven. He tried to work at an insurance company, but his weak lungs prevented him from working there for long. After briefly focusing on his writing, Beardsley began to work more on his drawing. His health improved, and seriously began his artistic career in the early 1890s. In 1892 he received a commission from J.M. Dent to illustrate Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur. This commission allowed him to survive on his drawing alone. In 1894, he created 17 images for Oscar Wilde's Salome, beginning his relationship with the avant-garde. From 1894 to 1895 he worked as art editor for Yellow Book, but fled to France when the Wilde was arrested. Upon his return to London, Beardsley founded a new magazine The Savoy, which included parts of his romantic novel Under the Hill. He illustrated Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock and Aristophanes' Lysistrata in 1896. Around the same time, Beardsley's health began deteriorating again and he was unable to work continuously. He passed away on March 16, 1898.

Source: From the finding aid for C0056


  • Artists -- England -- 19th century..
  • Aubrey Beardsley Collection. 1890-1946 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0056

    Aubrey Beardsley was an English draughtsman and author. The collection includes some of his Art Nouveau work, book illustrations, borders, chapter headings, title pages, and posters. Also included are various notes for his writing and holograph manuscripts of "Under the Hill" and "The Ivory Piece." Correspondence with friends and colleagues completes the collection.

  • R.A. Walker Papers. 1930-1936 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0470

    Consists of papers of English editor R.A. Walker related to his edition of Letters of Aubrey Beardsley to Leonard Smithers (1937). Walker used the pseudonym of Georges Derry.