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Boston College collection of Aubrey Beardsley

Collection MS-1997-011: Boston College collection of Aubrey Beardsley


  • Creation: 1892 - 1898

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of reproductions of images by nineteenth-century English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. It contains printed illustrations from an 1898 edition of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories and their original gold-stamped vellum folio. It also includes an original sketch for the logo for the Pierrot's Library book series; an American release of a publisher's advertisement designed by Beardsley; and a scrapbook with over 100 clippings of Beardsley's black and white illustrations.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was born on August 21, 1872, in Sussex, England, the son of Vincent Paul Beardsley (c. 1840-1909), and Ellen Agnus (1846-1932). At the age of seven, Beardsley was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a disease that would plague him for the remainder of his life. In 1888 Beardsley worked as a clerk in London. His artistic aspirations led him to enroll in the Westminster School of Art, beginning in 1891.

Following his artistic training, Beardsley began illustrating for art journals. His intricate drawing style was well captured by the hard surface of metal engraving blocks, which were a recently-introduced printing technology. His work was noticed by J. M. Dent, who asked him to illustrate a new publication of Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Beardsley went on to illustrate several other literary publications including Oscar Wilde's Salome (1894), Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock (1896), Aristophanes' Lysistrata (1896), and Ben Jonson's Volpone (1898). The controversial nature of some of his illustrations, combined with his decadent social life, drew much critical speculation about his own personal lifestyle. In 1897, in the face of his declining physical health and at the urging of his sister, Beardsley converted to Roman Catholicism and subsequently demanded that his friends and family destroy his drawings. His demands were ignored and his work was preserved.

Aubrey Beardsley died of tuberculosis on March 16, 1898, at age twenty-five.


Crawford, Alan. "Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent (1872-1898)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. 2 Nov. 2005.


1.25 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



This collection documents the work of nineteenth-century English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley through an ink drawing, prints, a proof, and clippings of journal illustrations. It includes prints for an 1898 edition of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories, advertisement designs, and a scrapbook containing clippings documenting the last six years of Beardsley's career as an illustrator. There are also two obituaries.


Because the current accessioning system was not used until January 1986, it is not possible to know exactly the dates of acquisition of materials received before that time.

The scrapbook was a gift of Mark Samuels Lasner, 1998.

Processing Information

Earlier description of this collection mis-indentified the Poe illustrations as original pen-and-ink drawings.

Boston College Collection of Aubrey Beardsley
Processed by Dana Lawton, 2005. Updated by AnneMarie Anderson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States