Illustrations in “The Pay of the Pied Piper,” in The Brighton Grammar School Annual Entertainment at The Dome on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 1888: Programme & Book of Words
Tucknott’s Steam Printing Works,
Beardsley’s desire for literary fame equaled his ambitions in art. From boyhood onwards, he was writing poetry and prose. But he was attracted, too, to the world of the theatre. At age eighteen— a time when he described himself unflatteringly in a letter to A. W. King (1855–1922), his former housemaster at the Brighton Grammar School, as possessing “a vile constitution, a sallow face and sunken eyes, long red hair, a shuffling gait and a stoop”—he had a one-act comedy performed at the Brighton Pavilion. Even before this, he had appeared to acclaim in school theatricals and for one of those, an 1888 production of The Pay of the Pied Piper (based on “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”), he also supplied drawings that filled the accompanying booklet. At this point, however, we see that he was more adept at depicting the chubby backsides of rats than the bodies of human children.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press