This edition of Aubrey Beardsley’s writings was published in November 2021. It aims to establish Beardsley’s reputation as a key figure in Decadent literature on a par with his iconic status in the visual arts. It publishes for the first time the text of Beardsley’s unfinished erotic novel Under the Hill (written between 1894 and 1896) in its original form alongside Beardsley’s manuscript.
Decadent Writings of Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Beardsley 150: The Artist Resurgent
Extended call for papers
The year 2022 will mark the 150th anniversary of Beardsley’s birth – which the Aubrey Beardsley Society will celebrate in style. Organised in association with the Decadence Research Centre at Goldsmiths and Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, the one-day conference Aubrey Beardsley 150: The Artist Resurgent will take place at St Bride, London, on 21 August 2022. Read the extended call for papers below. Deadline for proposals: 1 February 2022.
L’Eau Savante: Aspects of Erotic Writing in Aubrey Beardsley
This paper by Annette Lavers, a pioneering scholar of Beardsley’s literary work, is published here for the first time from the author’s typescript which she shared with Simon Wilson in 1998. This is Part II of the piece.
L’Eau Savante: Aspects of Erotic Writing in Aubrey Beardsley
This paper by Annette Lavers, a pioneering scholar of Beardsley’s literary output, is published here for the first time from the author’s typescript which she shared with Simon Wilson in 1998. This is Part I of the piece.
Aubrey Beardsley 150
The Artist Resurgent
The year 2022 will mark the 150th anniversary of Beardsley’s birth – which the Aubrey Beardsley Society will celebrate in style. Organised in association with the Decadence Research Centre at Goldsmiths and Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, the one-day conference Aubrey Beardsley 150: The Artist Resurgent will take place at St Bride, London, on 21 August 2022. Read the call for papers below.
ABirthday: Aubrey Beardsley turns 149
Celebrate on Zoom with the Aubrey Beardsley Society
On 21 August 2021, Beardsley will turn 149 years old. Two Beardsleyites extraordinaire, Professor Margaret D. Stetz and Dr Kate Hext, will help us mark the occasion in style by speaking on the topics of utmost decadent interest. Please see the descriptions of their talks below and book your free tickets to the Zoom event.
Beardsley and Mari Lwyd
What do this Welsh custom and Beardsley's drawings have in common?
In this creative blog, Kelda (Skulls and Sheets) demonstrates some of their magnificent mari lwyd drawings in black and white and traces their Beardsleyesque sources.
Beardsley Men in Early Twentieth-Century Russia: Modernising Decadent Masculinity
A new peer-reviewed article on Beardsley-inspired forms of urban Russian masculinity has been published in Modernist Cultures, 16:2 (2021). The early-twentieth-century homophile men were captivated by Beardsley’s image and did their best to emulate it. Can we blame them?
Ballet with Beardsley
Sasha Dovzhyk writes for the Rimbaud & Verlaine Foundation about Beardsley’s depictions of Bathyllus and the reception of the images by the modernist writer Mikhail Kuzmin in the context of Russian queer histories.
The Carnival is Over? Beardsley’s Pierrots, The Savoy, and the Moral Battle for Modern Art
This essay is the winner of the 2020 Emerging Beardsley Scholar Prize. Samuel Love’s piece fascinatingly addresses the important subject of the image of Pierrot in Beardsley’s work. It particularly illuminates Beardsley’s use of it in the Savoy in a way that contributes both to our understanding of the specific works discussed and the history of the periodical. The essay offers what appear to be highly original and most welcome readings of the iconography of such designs as the Savoy frontispiece, The Death of Pierrot, and Don Juan.
Beardsley at Menton
Caroline de Westenholz traces the details of Aubrey Beardsley’s stay in the picturesque town of Menton on the French Riviera, where the artist and writer died on 16 March 1898. This piece was originally published in The Death of Pierrot: A Beardsley Miscellany, ed. by Steven Halliwell and Matthew Sturgis (London, 1898).
‘Something corrupt’: The Queer Sensibility of Aubrey Beardsley and Konstantin Somov
Natalia Maslianinova’s essay is a runner-up of the 2020 Emerging Beardsley Scholar Prize competition. Rooting her analysis in queer historicism and transnational perspectives, Maslianinova foregrounds ‘queer codes’ in the Rococo designs of Aubrey Beardsley and his Russian admirer, artist Konstantin Somov. Maslianinova also points out how clandestine queer communities in the twentieth-century USSR and Poland were guided in their reception of Somov and Beardsley by the subtle queer subtext of the Rococo imagery.
‘Donald! Susan! Ronald! Brigid!’: The Camp Afterlives of Aubrey Beardsley
This essay by Dickon Edwards is a runner-up of the 2020 Emerging Beardsley Scholar Prize competition. It brings to life the most enchanting string of characters, from Mabel Beardsley to Ronald Firbank and Brigid Brophy, in a triumph of ‘artifice and exaggeration’. Governed by the same stylistic principle, the author’s short biography deserves a special mention among the enthusiasts of camp.
Valentine’s Day à la Beardsley: A New Animation by the Artist in Residence
Will Beardsley be your valentine? A new animation by the Artist in Residence of the Aubrey Beardsley Society Hanna Strizh will help to answer the question.
Unique Beardsley find in Amsterdam theatre collection
The fact that Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson has a gorgeous art-nouveau exhibition waiting to open is owed in part to Beardsley. The museum owns an original Beardsley drawing ‘One of the Spirits’ (1893) which has recently reemerged from the storeroom to be presented to the public for the first time.
A Selective Checklist of the Published Work of Aubrey Beardsley
The AB Library has received the digitised copy of an indispensable resource for any Beardsley scholar, A Selective Checklist of the Published Work of Aubrey Beardsley by Mark Samuels Lasner,
Season’s Greetings from the Aubrey Beardsley Society
The Aubrey Beardsley Society would like to thank the AB 2020 members and supporters for your commitment to the case of Beardsleyism this year. We wish you and your loved ones happy winter holidays and are looking forward to sharing more decadent delights with you in 2021.
20 Miniature Posters for the Keynotes Series
A gift for the members of AB 2020
A facsimile reproduction of the complete set of 20 miniature posters for Keynotes Series will be sent as an exclusive holiday gift to each member of AB 2020: The Aubrey Beardsley Society, courtesy of Thomas G. Boss Fine Books.
Artist in Residence: Hanna Strizh
AB 2020: The Aubrey Beardsley Society is delighted to introduce the Artist in Residence Hanna Strizh. This post contains an exhibition of her Beardsley-inspired artworks.
Aubrey Beardsley and the Birth of Psychedelia
Musée d'Orsay review
Ana Leorne reviews the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at Musée d’Orsay in Paris while also offering an informed and exciting discussion of Beardsley’s influence on the Sixties’ counterculture and psychedelic design – which ‘often felt like Victoriana on acid’.
From Greek Youth to Flying Demon Angel: Jacob Epstein’s Studies for the Tomb of Oscar Wilde
New publication by Simon Wilson
An authoritative scholarly account and a beautiful object, this new book by the Founding Member of the Aubrey Beardsley Society is an indispensable contribution to the library of any admirer of the fin-de-siècle culture.
Review: Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain
Emily Kinder reviews the Aubrey Beardsley show at Tate with a special interest in Beardsley’s literary contexts and references – which appear somewhat downplayed by the visual emphasis of the exhibition.
Aubrey Beardsley and the Spirit of Prog
In her fresh review of the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at Tate Britain, Nic Stringer draws surprising parallels between the eclectic art of the turn-of-the-century graphic designer and progressive rock.
Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain
The Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at Tate Britain is framed as an ultimate and comprehensive account of the artist’s life, work, and legacy. Miriam Al Jamil approaches the show with a series of questions: what conclusions might the visitor draw and would these be fair and accurate reflections of Beardsley’s short but intense career?
Looking at the Details
Review of Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain
Vanessa Heron offers a fascinating personal response to the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at Tate Britain encouraging us to look closely at Beardsley’s originals and to pay attention to the tiniest but nonetheless telling details of his drawings.
‘Macabre and Tragic’?
A Disability Studies Perspective on the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at Tate Britain
Dr Emmeline Burdett applies Disability Studies approaches to look at the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at Tate and discusses the ways in which the artist’s illness and early death from tuberculosis, as well as the representation of ‘impairments’ in his drawings, are framed by the show.
Exhibition Review: Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain
As befits a researcher working at the intersection of art history and medical humanities, Christine Slobogin applies an enchantingly morbid lens to review the Aubrey Beardsley show at Tate Britain.
The Emerging Beardsley Scholar Prize
To mark the foundation of the Aubrey Beardsley Society, a prize for the best short essay on any aspect of Beardsley’s work, life, and reception will be awarded to an outstanding emerging scholar.
Review of Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain
Dr Sasha Dovzhyk reviews the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at Tate Britain (4 March–25 May 2020) for the journal 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century.
Martha Kapos contributes an ekphrastic poem meditating on the delicious eroticism of Beardsley’s imagery.
Sharing a Sofa: Aubrey Beardsley and William Rothenstein
Dr Samuel Shaw writes about friendship and artistic connections between Beardsley and William Rothenstein, discussing specific visual examples as well as the tendency of their images to ‘speak to, but never exactly illustrate, the texts from which they draw’.
A Peacock Is a Poem
After Aubrey Beardsley
Dr Golnoosh Nour’s poem explores the definitions and ramifications of poetry as an art form through a Beardsleyesque lens. ‘A Peacock is a Poem’ is inspired by Beardsley’s decadent illustrations as well as his use of language in the unfinished queer tale ‘Under the Hill’ (1896).
AB 2020: Beardsley Re-Viewed. A Eulogy
Ephemera of the Cancelled Beardsley Conference
Like many things 2020, the conference AB 2020: Beardsley Re-Viewed was not meant to be. In this post, you will find the call for papers, the programme, and the beautiful poster for this cancelled event.
Aubrey Beardsley’s Messalina: Going, or Coming?
In this previously unpublished paper, Simon Wilson clarifies a long-standing confusion regarding the titles of the two drawings of the notorious Roman empress Messalina created by Beardsley in 1895 and 1896. Wilson also establishes the designs’ close correspondence to the text of Juvenal’s Sixth Satire thus busting the myth of the irrelevance of Beardsley’s drawings to the literary works he illustrated.
The Queer Little Grove: The Adoption of Aubrey Beardsley by Mikhail Kuzmin
This article explores one of the many aspects of Aubrey Beardsley’s transnational legacy, focusing on his appropriation by Mikhail Kuzmin (1872–1936), a key modernist writer and a seminal voice of the emerging homosexual subculture in Russia. While Kuzmin often used Beardsley as a signifier of homoeroticism in his literary works and life-writing, it is in his play Little Grove (1922) that the queering of Beardsley is crystallised. My intermedial analysis of the piece will show how allusions to Beardsley shape Kuzmin’s representation of gender and sexuality and how the formal construction of Kuzmin’s publication echoes the formal features of Beardsley’s graphic designs.
Staging Artifice: Aubrey Beardsley and 114 Cambridge Street
Ruth Smith explores Beardsley’s self-fashioning through his home in Pimlico, London, and the new resonance of the artist’s practices during the 2020 worldwide lockdown. Domestic interiors are often performative extensions of the self, and are perhaps even more so in this time of coronavirus. Like Beardsley’s, our homes have become a space where the personal, the public, and the realms of leisure and work have come to reside.
La TRISTE d’ÉMIL
Émile Herm’s homage to Beardsley examines the tension between interior and exterior selves in which narratives are synthesised into a single or unified entity.
Seated lady x Ivy-leafed toadflax
(x Aubrey Beardsley)
L Kiew responds to Beardsley’s image A Seeress (1893) with a shimmering poem, seductive like a devil’s ribbon.
like three Salomes
Nic Stringer’s poem ‘like three Salomes’ is from the collection Hemispheres, to be published by Guillemot Press in 2021; three Salomes (triptych) is part of the accompanying visual project. Sound and music, created in collaboration with Fractured Strings, will also be available in 2021.
Beardsley, A Cover Boy for Sexual Revolution
The image of Aubrey Beardsley has been long enveloped in an aura of notoriety with distinctly erotic overtones. He has been seen as a rebel figure in the era of militant Victorian prudery. Sasha Dovzhyk argues that the myth of Beardsley as a Victorian sexual liberator was forged in 1966 when the V&A dedicated a major exhibition to the artist and displayed his most explicit works for the first time.
The Afterlives of Beardsley’s Morte Darthur Illustrations
Beardsley’s illustrations for J. M. Dent’s edition of the Morte Darthur (1893–4) have often been deemed to bear an unusually tenuous relation to the Arthurian narrative. Out of approximately 500 illustrations, only the 20 full-page illustrations address identifiable moments in the narrative. Despite their supposed inaptness to Malory’s text, Dent and his successors have continued to reuse the illustrations in subsequent editions of the Morte Darthur.
The Missing Keyhole: An Aubrey Beardsley Minor Mystery
How La Beale Isoud Wrote to Sir Tristram (1893) is one of Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations for Le Morte Darthur, published by JM Dent in 1894. It shows Isoud seated writing at a desk in an interior. Beyond her is a wall with twin windows and underneath these is a pair of identical, or almost identical, floor-standing chests or coffers. In the original drawing, which is extant in a private collection in London, the one on the right has a keyhole, but the other has not.