Aubrey Beardsley

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Aubrey Vincent Beardsley
born: Brighton, England; 21 August 1872
died: Menton, France; 16 March 1898


What startled his critics and the public alike was the obvious sensuality of the women in his drawings, which usually contained an element of morbid eroticism. This tendency became even pronounced in his openly licentious illustrations (1896) for Aristophanes' Lysistrata.

Although Beardsley was not homosexual, he was dismissed from The Yellow Book as part of the general revulsion against Aestheticism that followed the scandal surrounding Oscar Wilde in 1895. He then became principal illustrator of another new magazine, The Savoy. He also illustrated numerous books, including in 1896 Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock. During this period he also wrote some poems and a prose parody, Under the Hill (1903; the original, unexpurgated version, The Story of Venus and Tannhauser, appeared in 1907).


Delicate in health from the age of six, when he first contracted tuberculosis, Beardsley again fell victim to the disease when he was 17. From 1896 he was an invalid. In 1897, after being received into the Roman Catholic church, he went to live in France, where he died at age 25. His work has enjoyed periodic revivals, most notably during the 1960s.