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The Yellow Book and Beyond: Selected Letters of Henry Harland to John Lane KARL BECKSON Brooklyn College, CUNY MARK SAMUELS LASNER Washington D.C. FOR MANY YEARS, literary historians had relied on Katherine Lyon Mix's pioneering work, A Study in Yellow: The Yellow Book and Its Contributors (1960), but as scholarly interest in the 1890s increased, fascination with the most famous periodical of the fin de siècle resulted in further exploration of its widespread importance. The Letters of Aubrey Beardsley, edited by Henry Maas, et al. (1970), provided a view from the Yellow Book's art editor, as did various biographies, such as Stanley Weintraub's Aubrey Beardsley: Imp of the Perverse (1976). Karl Beckson 's Henry Harland: His Life and Work (1978) made use of Harland's unpublished letters, which revealed the challenges of editing the Yellow Book, and Alan Anderson's Tragara Press (1990) printed fourteen letters by Harland's sub-editor, Ella D'Arcy (c. 1857-1937), who described her experiences in working under Harland and the scene at the Bodley Head during the crisis of Beardsley's enforced separation from the Yellow Book as its art editor and principal illustrator. In 1992, in ELT (35:2), Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV published "Ella D'Arcy: A Commentary with a Primary and Annotated Secondary Bibliography," which stresses D'Arcy's importance in the history of the Yellow Book, and in 1994, Fisher published D'Arcy's reminiscences, "Yellow Book Celebrities" in ELT (37:1). In the centenary celebration of the Yellow Book's appearance, Harvard 's Houghton Library in April 1994 mounted an exhibition of manuscripts , graphics, and books organized by Margaret D. Stetz and Mark Samuels Lasner, both of whom also wrote the accompanying mono401 ELT 42 : 4 1999 graph, a revisionist history of the periodical, published by the library. Recently, the Eighteen Nineties Society (London) issued Lasner's The Yellow Book: A Checklist and Index (1998), a listing of the contents of each of the thirteen volumes, notes on contributors, and a comprehensive index. Although such scholarship has provided much additional information since Mix's early study of the relationship between the successful American novelist and literary editor of the Yellow Book, Henry Harland (1861-1905), and the Bodley Head publisher, John Lane (1854-1925), the hitherto unpublished Harland correspondence at the University of Texas, Austin, formerly housed at the Westfield College, University of London, gives us an intimate look not only into the relationship between the editor and publisher but also their financial and artistic concerns in producing the Yellow Book. In March 1894, the Bodley Head, as its famous prospectus announced , looked forward to a new kind of periodical: The aim of the Publishers and Editors of THE YELLOW BOOK is to depart as far as may be from the bad old traditions of periodical literature, and to provide an Illustrated Magazine which shall be beautiful as a piece of bookmaking , modern and distinguished in its letter-press and its pictures, and withal popular in the better sense of the word___Altogether it is expected that THE YELLOW BOOK will prove the most interesting, unusual, and important publication of its kind that has ever been undertaken.1 The "bad old traditions of periodical literature" referred to serialization of novels, which would be abandoned by the forthcoming periodical, nor would it carry any advertising (other than the publisher's lists, which strategically featured Bodley Head authors) or illustrations accompanying any of the "letter-press" (though, on occasion, there were departures from the policy). Finally, the price of five shillings distinguished the Yellow Book as one appealing to a cultured audience, though "popular in the better sense of the word," as opposed to the best-selling periodicals at the time. In deciding on who the contributors should be, Harland and Lane were determined to include a broad spectrum of writers and artists (in the process, excluding Oscar Wilde as, perhaps, too likely to attract attention to himself at the expense of the other contributors). Harland's admiration of Lane's entrepreneurial capacity is evident in a letter from Harland to his godfather, the American poet E. C. Stedman (1833-1908), on 26 March 1895: "Mr...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 401-405
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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