The Yellow Book: An Illustrated Quarterly - Volumes I - XIII - Aubrey Beardsley April 1894-April 1897 - Elkin Mathews &, London A complete, clean and better than normally encountered thirteen volume set of this groundbreaking art nouveau publication, in the publisher’s bright yellow illustrated covers with designs by Aubrey Beardsley. Together with ‘A Selection’ published in 1950 and bound in yellow cloth to match the earlier set. Fourteen volumes in total.

From its initial visually arresting issue, for which Aubrey Beardsley was art editor and for which Max Beerbohm wrote an essay, ‘
A Defence of Cosmetics’, ‘The Yellow Book’ attained immediate notoriety.

Published by John Lane and edited by Henry Harland, ‘
The Yellow Book’ attracted many outstanding writers and artists of the era, such as Arnold Bennett, Charlotte Mew, Henry James, Edmund Gosse, Richard Le Gallienne, and Walter Sickert.

Although dominated by the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, and his decadent fin de siècle aura, many other distinguished artists contributed to the quarterly, notably Frederic Leighton, Will Rothenstein, Walter Sickert and Philip Wilson Steer; contributors to the text included Max Beerbohm, John Buchan, Baron Corvo, Edmund Gosse, Kenneth Grahame, Henry James, E. Nesbit and W. B. Yeats.
  The Yellow Book’, published in London from 1894 to 1897 by Elkin Mathews and John Lane, later by John Lane alone, and edited by the American Henry Harland, was a quarterly literary periodical (priced at 5s.) that lent its name to the "Yellow" 1890s.

It was a leading journal of the British 1890s; to some degree associated with Aestheticism and Decadence, the magazine contained a wide range of literary and artistic genres, poetry, short stories, essays, book illustrations, portraits, and reproductions of paintings. Aubrey Beardsley was its first art editor, and he has been credited with the idea of the yellow cover, with its association with French fiction of the period. He obtained works by such artists as Charles Conder, William Rothenstein, John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert, and Philip Wilson Steer. The literary content was no less distinguished; authors found within its pages during the three years of its existence include: Max Beerbohm, Arnold Bennett, "Baron Corvo", Ernest Dowson, George Gissing, Henry James, Sir Edmund Gosse, Richard Le Gallienne, Charlotte Mew, Arthur Symons, H. G. Wells and William Butler Yeats.

Though Oscar Wilde never published anything within its pages, it was linked to him because Beardsley had illustrated his Salomé and because he was on friendly terms with many of the contributors. Moreover, in Wilde's ‘
The Picture of Dorian Gray’ (1891), a major corrupting influence on Dorian is "the yellow book" which Lord Henry sends over to amuse him after the suicide of his first love. This "yellow book" is understood by critics to be À rebours by Joris-Karl Huysmans, a representative work of Parisian decadence that heavily influenced British aesthetes like Beardsley. Such books in Paris were wrapped in yellow paper to alert the reader to their lascivious content. It is not clear, however, whether ‘Dorian Gray’ is the direct source for the review's title. Soon after Wilde was arrested in April 1895 Beardsley was dismissed as the periodical's art editor, his post taken over by the publisher, John Lane, assisted by another artist, Patten Wilson. Although critics have contended that the quality of its contents declined after Beardsley left and that ‘The Yellow Book’ became a vehicle for promoting the work of Lane's authors, a remarkably high standard in both art and literature was maintained until the periodical ceased publication in the spring of 1897. A notable feature was the inclusion of work by women writers and illustrators, among them Ella D'Arcy and Ethel Colburn Mayne (both also served as Harland's subeditors), George Egerton, Rosamund Marriott Watson, Ada Leverson, Netta and Nellie Syrett, and Ethel Reed.

Perhaps indicative of ‘
The Yellow Book’'s past significance in literary circles of its day is a reference to it in a fictional piece thirty-three years after it ceased publication. American author Willa Cather noted its presence in the personal library of one of her characters in the short story, ‘Double Birthday’, noting that it had lost its "power to seduce and stimulate..."

The Yellow Book’ differed from other periodicals in that it was issued clothbound, made a strict distinction between the literary and art contents (only in one or two instances were these connected), did not include serial fiction, and contained no advertisements except publishers' lists.

Reference: Online Archive of California.

Quarto thirteen volumes (book size 20.8x17.2cm), pp. 272; 360 [4]; 279 [1] 8 (Yellow Book advertisements); 285 [7 (frontispiece for
Juvenal)] [3] 16 (Yellow Book advertisements) 15 (publisher 1895 advertisements) [1]; 317 [1] 4 (Yellow Book advertisements)16 (publisher 1895 advertisements), 6 (Index to Volumes I-V) [4]; 335 [1] 16 (publisher 1895 advertisements); 319 [1] 7 (Yellow Book advertisements) [1] 16 (publisher 1895 advertisements); 406; 256 [6 (Yellow Book advertisements)] 16 (publisher 1896 advertisements); 344 6 (Yellow Book advertisements) 16 (publisher 1896 advertisements); 342, 3 (Yellow Book advertisements) [1] 12 (publisher 1896 advertisements); 344; 316 [4-’A Shepherd Boy’ illustration] [2].

A mixed set, early issues of volumes II, VIII, XII, XIII, which do not contain both sets of the ‘Yellow Book’ and the publisher’s advertisements; possible early issue of Volume III which does not contain the set of pubilsher’s advertisements. Early issue of volume I with top edge untrimmed others trimmed, without advertisements and with ‘April’ correctly spelt (the first issue contained both ‘Yellow Book’ and publisher’s sets of advertisements in the rear, April is spelled ‘Aprtl’, and all edges where untrimmed).
  Condition: Generally near fine, minor rubbing and soiling to spines and panels, one or two gatherings over opened, a little occasional spotting to some pages, volume X with archival repaired tear to page 248, many pages still unopened with bolts uncut, additional later A Selection volume with crease to upper board.   Ref: 110404   Price: HK$ 10,000