The Yellow Book  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Yellow Book, published from 1894 to 1897 by Elkin Mathews and John Lane, later by John Lane alone, and edited by the American Henry Harland, was an important literary periodical 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:

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. 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 (copyright 1929, by The Forum Publishing Company), 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. Complete runs of the 13 quarterly volumes will be found in most academic (and many public) libraries, though many of these sets are, in fact, reprints produced after the turn of the century by Lane and by others. A guide to the magazine's contents, The Yellow Book: A Checklist and Index, by Mark Samuels Lasner, was published in 1998.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Yellow Book" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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