Aubrey Beardsley collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains both material by Aubrey Beardsley and items relating to the publication and study of his work after his death. Correspondence includes 14 letters written by Beardsley to his family from school 1878-1879, 18 letters from Beardsley to John Gray 1895-1898 and 16 letters from Beardsley to his sister Mabel, 1896-1898. There are also letters to Marc-Andr Raffalovich and Leonard Smithers. The rest of the correspondence consists of letters from Mabel Beardsley to her brother's friends 1898-1904, letters from Longmans, Green & Co. to John Gray concerning the publication of Beardsley's letters 1904, letters from John Lane to John Gray about publication of Beardsley's work 1920-1921, and 23 items of correspondence of R.A. Walker (who also wrote as Georges Derry) relating to his work on Beardsley 1919-1964. There are two 'fake pen drawings' alleged to be by Beardsley, along with a number of prints and photographs of his work. Around 20 further photographs are of Beardsley and members of his family. Other papers include a copy of Beardsley's will and a summary of that of his mother Ellen Beardsley, announcements and prospectuses for works illustrated by Beardsley, cuttings and excerpts, and catalogues.

Administrative / Biographical History

Aubrey Beardsley was born on August 21st 1872 and died from tuberculosis on March 16th 1898. During his short and brilliant career he became notorious for his illustrations in two 'decadent' periodicals of the period, The Yellow Book and The Savoy. His designs for books such as the banned Salom of Oscar Wilde added to his notoriety. Other work included the illustrations for Le Morte Darthur, The Rape of the Lock, Lysistrata and Volpone.

Access Information

Open to all researchers. No reader's ticket is required but an appointment is necessary. Check for contact details and opening hours.

Acquisition Information

Purchased in two sections, February 1958 and July 1961, with a gift of further material 1963.


Description prepared by Bridget Andrews with reference to Stephen Calloway Aubrey Beardsley (V & A publications, 1998)

Other Finding Aids

A detailed listing is available in the reading room, with transcriptions from the corrspondence.

Family Names