Publisher to the Decadents


Publisher to the Decadents: Leonard Smithers in the careers of Beardsley, Wilde, Dowson

Prof. James G. Nelson

The years between 1895 and 1900 were Smithers' glory years during which he was the centre of a significant coterie of young avant garde writers and artists. After Wilde's imprisonment, it was Smithers who came to the rescue of the dispossessed Decadents, offering them both his friendship and financial support. As a result of his championing the Decadents, Smithers published a number of books illustrated by Beardsley; Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol and the plays, The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband; a magazine known as the Savoy; and books of verse by Ernest Dowson and Arthur Symons that have proved to be the finest expression of the Decadent Movement. Throughout his career, Smithers sought to produce limited editions of attractive, well-made books that were tastefully designed and printed.

Co-Published with Penn State University Press. This long awaited and ground breaking study includes an appendix on Smithers and the erotic book trade by Peter Mendes and a check list of Smithers' publications by James G. Nelson and Peter Mendes. Prof. Nelson's volumes on the partnership of Elkin Mathews and John Lane and the study of the career of Elkin Mathews after the break with John Lane have become classic books both welcomed by collectors and used by book dealers .

This volume on Leonard Smithers is the third in the planned trilogy.
Hardbound: 17.5 x 27.4cm, 420pp., illustrated

ISBN 0-953503-38-0

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 Published 1 June 2000
Rivendale Press
P. O. Box 85, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP14 4WZ England
TEL: 01494 562266