From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Leonard Smithers (1861, Sheffield – 1909) was a British publisher, a friend of Oscar Wilde. He was the publisher of the British decadent movement of fin de siècle London, playing a critical role in the careers of Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Symons, Max Beerbohm among many others.
In 1897 Bernard Quaritch called him the cleverest publisher in London. He was known for his taste in design and typography.
He was also considered to be quite reckless, publishing works that no one else would touch, such as Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol. The Concise Dictionary of National Biography notes that "There is little doubt that without Smithers the avant-garde movement of the 1890s might have been snuffed out".
was a London publisher associated with the Decadent movement. Born in Sheffield, he worked as a solicitor and became friendly with the explorer and orientalist Sir Richard Francis Burton. He published Burton's translation of the Book of One Thousand and One Nights in 1885. He collaborated with Burton in a translation from the Latin of the Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus and Priapeia, a collection of erotic poems by various writers. He also published a limited edition of the Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter.
Smithers published works by Aubrey Beardsley, Max Beerbohm, Aleister Crowley,Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons and Oscar Wilde and lesser known figures such as Vincent O'Sullivan and Nigel Tourneur. With Symonds and Beardsley, he founded The Savoy, a periodical which ran to eight issues in 1896. In partnership with Harry Sidney Nichols, he published a series of pornographic books under the imprint of the Erotika Biblion Society: he was notorious for posting a slogan at his bookshop in Bond Street "Smut is cheap today".
He went bankrupt in 1900 and died in 1909 from drink and drugs.