Aubrey Beardsley (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Assimilating diverse artistic influences, Beardsley produced black-and-white illustrations for magazines and books that epitomize the achievement of the English Aesthetic movement of the 1890’s.
Born in Brighton, England, on August 21, 1872, Aubrey Beardsley was the son of Vincent Paul Beardsley, himself the son of a London goldsmith, and Ellen Agnus Pitt. He was educated in Brighton, the home of his maternal grandfather, Surgeon-Major William Pitt, but left Brighton Grammar School in 1888 to work in the District Surveyor’s Office, Clerkenwell and Islington, London. In January, 1889, Beardsley started as a clerk at the Guardian Life and Fire Insurance office in London, where he was employed until late 1892. He left the firm when the publisher J. M. Dent gave him a commission to produce illustrations for an edition of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (1485). For the rest of his short life, Beardsley worked as an illustrator and as art editor for various periodicals.
Beardsley’s career was brief but meteoric, especially for an artist without much formal training. He had drawn since childhood, copying the work of the illustrator Kate Greenaway at first and then developing a style reflecting the various influences of William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Beardsley and his older sister, Mabel, soon to begin her career as an...
(The entire section is 2320 words.)
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