Aubrey Beardsley


Ellen Pitt Beardsley


Aubrey Beardsley


Autograph manuscript,




Cross-dressing appealed to Beardsley in his early years and seemed to suit him. In this reminiscence written decades after his death in 1898, Beardsley’s mother described the amateur theatricals put on at home by the adolescent Aubrey and his sister, Mabel (who went on to become a teacher and eventually a professional stage performer). For Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593), Beardsley was Marguerite, with “long straw plaits fastened on each side of his head.” This manuscript also records memories of her son’s later reluctance to fulfill his commission to illustrate an edition of Le Morte Darthur (1893–1894). In response to maternal prodding, he replied with a limerick: “A youth for a very small salary / Did a cartload of drawings for Malory. / When they asked him for more / He only said ‘Sure / They’ve already enough for a gallery.’”


From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press