Aubrey Beardsley Collection Beardsley coll.

Finding aid written by Rebecca Fenning Marschall
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street
Los Angeles 90018

Contributing Institution: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Title: Aubrey Beardsley Collection
Creator: Beardsley, Aubrey, 1872-1898
Identifier/Call Number: Beardsley coll.
Physical Description: 1.92 Linear feet (2 boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1884-2003
Abstract: This guide describes the Clark Library's collection of Aubrey Beardsley material, and includes original drawings, prints, prospectuses for published works, posters, and portfolios of published prints.
Physical Location: Clark Library.
Language of Material: English .

Conditions Governing Access

Collection open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection is an artificial collection built over time by Clark Library staff; it did not originate in one single purchase. Where known, accession numbers and acquisition information is cited for each item in the container listing below.

Biographical Note

Aubrey Beardsley was born in Brighton, England in 1872 to Ellen Agnus Pitt and Vincent Paul Beardsley. Vincent had inherited a small fortune from his father, but had lost most of it by the time Aubrey and his older sister Mabel were born. Their family (which also included sister Mabel, born in 1871) moved from Brighton to London in 1883 and struggled economically, as Vincent worked unsuccessfully in a variety of clerical jobs. Aubrey contracted tuberculosis when he was 7, though his case was mild for most of his childhood; his first real outbreak came in 1889. He left school in 1888 and found work as a clerk. Soon after, he began drawing and studied art briefly at the Westminster School of Art. After being discovered by art journalist Aymer Vallance in 1892, Aubrey began creating a public persona for himself and establishing his black-and-white linear drawing style, which was particularly suited to new developments in printing. Throughout the early 1890s, Beardsley's fame and notoriety continued to grow, as he illustrated Oscar Wilde's Salome and co-founded the magazine The Yellow Book. His often erotic and grotesque work, as well as his eccentric persona were often controversial, and his association with Wilde somewhat damaged his reputation after Wilde's 1895 arrest for "gross indecency." Beardsley's health became increasingly worse after 1896, and he died in Menton, France in 1898 at the age of 25.
Sources consulted:
* "Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. , accessed January 2023.
* Matthew Sturgis, Chapter 1 excerpt of "Aubrey Beardsley: A Biography", New York Times Book Review (online). New York Times. , accessed January 2023.

Processing History

This collection was previously inventoried and described in a series of in-house Clark Library guides beginning around 1998. Many items included here retain previous call number information written in pencil on the items themselves.
The collection was physically rehoused and re-described in August 2023 by Rebecca Fenning Marschall.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of the Clark Library's collection of Aubrey Beardsley material, and is an artificial collection, built over time and from many acquisition sources. Items include original drawings, prints, prospectuses for published works, posters, and portfolios of published prints.


Items are arranged in roughly chronological order.

Box 1, Folder 11

Portrait of Sophia Western from Tom Jones [ink drawing] about 1884

Scope and Contents

Two inscriptions on verso: "Drawn by Aubrey Beardsley at the age of 12 years and given to W. W. Hindsmith in 1885" and "Note: He was a fag [sic] to Hindsmith at school." Purchase, Quaritch, 1967 (MS.1967.008).
Box 1, Folder 12

Prints for "The New Coinage" about 1893

Scope and Contents

Woodblock prints for 'The New Coinage. Four designs which were not sent in for competition', published in 'The Pall Mall Budget', 9 February 1893, page 154. Purchase, G.F. Sims, 1950 (MS.1950.050).
Box 1, Folder 14

Drawing for Le morte d'Arthur about 1893-1894

Scope and Contents

From the collection of Henry Wallis. Purchase, Dailey Rare Books, 1978 (MS.1978.001).
Box 1, Folder 16

Prints for "Becket at the Lyceum" 1893

Scope and Contents

Purchase, G.F. Sims, 1950 (MS.1950.050).
Box 1, Folder 18

Prospectus for The Yellow Book, vol. II (detached covers) 1894 Jul

Scope and Contents

Purchase, Maxwell Hunley, 1949 (MS.1949.004).
Box 1, Folder 19

Prospectus for The Yellow Book, vol. III 1894 Oct

Scope and Contents

Purchase, Maxwell Hunley, 1949 (MS.1949.004).
Box 1, Folder 15

"The comedy ballet of marionettes" prints about 1894

Scope and Contents

Purchase, G.F. Sims, 1950 (MS.1950.050).
Box 2, Folder 1

Poster: "Sold here. Daily extracts concerning matrimony, in pocket-volume form, price 12/6, The spinster's scrip as compiled by Cecil Raynor. London: William Heinemann" with illustration by Beardsley 1894

Scope and Contents

Purchase, Percy Dobell, 1923 (MS.1923.003).
Box 2, item 5

A snare of vintage [printing plate] about 1894

Scope and Contents

Original copperplate for an illustration not used in Lucian's True history. With 1996 fax from Linda Gertner Zatlin confirming the title of the piece. Purchase, Hamill and Barker, 1962 (MS.1962.009).
Box 1, Folder 13

Prospectus for The Yellow Book, vol. IV (detached covers) 1895 Jan

Scope and Contents

Purchase, Maxwell Hunley, 1949 (MS.1949.004).
Box 1, Folder 8

Suppressed prospectus for The Savoy, no. 1 1895 Dec

Scope and Contents

Purchase, Maggs, 1922 (MS.1922.003).
Box 1, Folder 7

Catalogue of rare books offered for sale by Leonard Smithers, no. 6 1896

Scope and Contents

Cover illustrated by Beardsley. Purchase, C.S. Millard, 1923 (MS.1923.002).
Box 1, Folder 5

Sales catalog. Keynotes series of novels and short stories, Twenty-one designs by Beardsley. London: John Lane 1896

Scope and Contents

Front cover detached. Purchase, 1926 (MS.1926.004).
Box 2, Folder 4

Set of eight engravings to illustrate Lysistrata. Published by Leonard Smithers about 1896-1906?

Scope and Contents

Purchase, H.W. Edwards, 1959 (MS.1959.012). Detached covers.
drawer 20, Folder 2

Poster: "Keynote series: The woman who did… [& eight other titles]" 1896

Scope and Contents

Purchase, Hamill & Barker, 1964 (MS.1964.008).
Box 1, Folder 6

Prospectus, Vincent O'Sullivan, A Book of Bargains. London: Leonard Smithers 1896

Scope and Contents

Frontispiece design by Beardsley.
Box 1, Folder 3

Prospectus for The Savoy 1896 June

Scope and Contents

With envelope from 1947 purchase (accession MS.1947.003).
Box 2, Folder 2

Cover for the suppressed prospectus for The Savoy., no.1 1896 Jan

Scope and Contents

Original pink folder from acquisition included.
Box 1, Folder 20

Prospectus for A Book of Fifty Drawings. London: Leonard Smithers 1897

Scope and Contents

Purchase, Maxwell Hunley, 1949 (MS.1949.004).
Box 1, Folder 10

Photograph of Aubrey Beardsley in Menton hotel room, with inscription by Max Beerbohm about 1898?

Scope and Contents

Original photograph of Beardsley working in the Menton hotel room where he later died. Lengthy inscription by Max Beerbohm dated 1925 on verso: "This photograph of Aubrey Beardsley was taken in the bedroom of an hotel at Mentone [sic] -- the room in which he died. It was given to me either by his mother or by his sister. The Mantegnas are a queer contrast with the wall-paper and the furniture; the contrast must have delighted him greatly. Tragically frail and dying tho' he looks here, my memory is that he looked hardly less so when I first met him. Max Beerbohm, 1925." Purchase, David Magee, 1961 (MS.1961.015).
drawer 20, Folder 1

Poster: The Yellow Book, Boston: Copeland & Day

Scope and Contents

torn corner. Purchase, Hamill & Barker, 1964 (MS.1964.008).
Box 1, Folder 9

A.J.A. Symons, Prospectus for A bibliography of the works of the writers and book illustrators of the eighteen-nineties with short biographies. London: First Edition Club

Scope and Contents

Undated. Apparently never published. Includes specimen page of Beardsley biography. Original acquired with Thomas Perry Stricker Papers, 1948 (MS.1948.004).
Box 2, Folder 2

Color poster to promote The Savoy: Complete in three volumes

Scope and Contents

Original pink folder from acquisition included.
Box 1, Folder 4

Unwin's Chap Book 1899-1900. London: T. Fisher Unwin 1900

Scope and Contents

Illustrated cover by Beardsley. Purchase, Dawson's Book Shop, 1945 (MS.1945.010).
Box 2, Folder 3

Drawings to illustrate the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, with a portrait of the artist about 1904

Scope and Contents

Purchase, Elkin Mathews, 1950 (MS.1950.051). From Mathews Quarto no. 8 (1950), item 21. Formerly in the collection of Rainforth Armitage Walker.
Box 1, Folder 1

Under the Hill, edited by E. Haldeman-Julius. Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Publications 1931

Scope and Contents

Number 1643 in the Haldeman-Julius "Little Blue Book" series.
Box 1, Folder 21

Prospectus for A Beardsley Miscellany. R.A. Walker, editor. London: Bodley Head 1949

Scope and Contents

Purchase, Maxwell Hunley, 1949 (MS.1949.004). Illustration from Venus and Tannhauser by Beardsley.
Box 1, Folder 2

Black and white photograph of the 1895 Jacques-Emile Blanche portrait of Beardsley

Scope and Contents

Portrait property of National Portrait Gallery of London.
Box 1, Folder 17

Clark Library collection management files 1948-2003

Scope and Contents

Includes carbons of acquisition cards and typed inventories from approximately 1998-2003.