Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Beardsley, Aubrey, 1872-1898.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Aubrey Beardsley Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
17 boxes
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-7; 15; 5A; 5B
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Boxes 8-14; 14A


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.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Aubrey Beardsley Collection contains drawings from Beardsley's early Art Nouveau work, book illustrations, borders, chapter headings, title pages, and posters. In addition, a signed autograph manuscript of "The Art of Hoarding," notes for a Volpone prospectus, its revision, and introduction are included, as well as notes for a short story, "The Celestial Lover," which Beardsley never developed, and portions of the original holograph manuscripts of "Under the Hill" and "The Ivory Piece."

Among the major correspondents are Edmund Gosse, Robert Underwood Johnson, and Leonard Smithers. Albert Eugene Gallatin, art critic and collector of this material, is also represented in letters from Henry Harland, Philip Hofer, Mitchell Kennerley, Percy Lubbock, A. Hyatt Mayor, Arthur Symons, and others. In addition, there is correspondence from Douglas Ainslie, Joseph M. Dent, John Lane, and Beardsley's mother and sister, as well as photographs of Beardsley and family members.

Collection Creator Biography:

Beardsley, Aubrey, 1872-1898.

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.

Collection History


In 1948, Albert Eugene Gallatin gave the University drawings, manuscripts, letters, and related material. Princeton has expanded the collection over the years by additional gifts and purchases. See the Collection File for additional information.

Beardsley's illustrated copy of Stéphane Mallarmé's L'après midi d'un faune (1882) was purchased in 2012 with funds provided by the Richard M. Ludwig Endowment donated by Michael Spence, Class of 1966.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions relating to a particular author.


These books have been transferred to the Rare Books Division:

King, A. W. (Arthur William): An Aubrey Beardsley Lecture...., London, R. A. Walker, 1924, #140 of 500, signed by R. A. Walker

Reade, Brian: Aubrey Beardsley, an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1966.

Reade, Brian, compiler: Aubrey Beardsley: an Exhibition Arranged by Brian Reade for the Gallery of Modern Art, Foundation for Modern Art, New York, 1967

Walker, R. A., editor: Letters from Aubrey Beardsley to Leonard Smithers, The First Edition Club, Chiswick Press, London, 1937.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Barbara Volz in 1996. Finding aid written by Barbara Volz in 1996.

Biography written by Alyxandra Cullen, '09.

In 2022, restrictions on materials where researchers were required to use surrogates were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Aubrey Beardsley Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-7; 15; 5A; 5B
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Boxes 8-14; 14A

Find More

Related Materials

General Manuscripts Miscellaneous Collection (C0140) Bea - Bek: Beardsley, Woman Looking Over her Shoulder

Robert Taylor Collection (RTC01) Drawer IV: Le Morte D'Arthur - Vol. 1, Book 1, chapter XVIII and Le Morte D'Arthur - Vol. 2, Book 9, chapter XII

Graphic Arts Collection(GAX): Gallatin, A. E. Aubrey Beardsley Catalogue of Drawings, London, 1903, Portrait of Rejane


The following sources were consulted during preparation of biographical note: Grove Art Online.

Subject Terms:
Art nouveau -- England.
Artists -- England -- 19th century.
Genre Terms:
Photographs, Original.
Gallatin, A.E. (Albert Eugene), 1881-1952