London, Boston and New York: Elkin Mathews & John Lane, The Bodley Head, Copeland & Day, 1894-1897.
An attractive set of the complete run of the most important and notorious British "magazine" of the 1890s. A journal of art and literature designed to sell high culture, The publication was innovative in style, format, and content, especially in its separation of art and literature, support of new artists and writers, especially women, and the exclusion of advertising, except for the publisher's catalogue. (The Yellow Book certainly promoted book collecting.) A magnet for avant-garde writers and illustrators, The Yellow Book attracted contributions from Henry James, E. Nisbit, George Gissing, Charles Conder, John S. Sargeant, John Illingworth Kay, Charles Robinson, Y.B Yeats, and so forth. Lesser known female contributors include Mabel Dearmer, Ethel Reed and Netta and Mabel Syrett. Today it is considered a "herald of modernity".
One of its most famous contributors, whose name is always linked with The Yellow Book, was Aubrey Beardsley. Beardsley disliked the fact that illustrators ‘trailed servant-like’ behind authors in the publications of his time. An American writer, Henry Harland agreed, and together they pitched the idea for the The Yellow Book, a publication where artists and writers were equals and their work could be viewed without derogatory interdependence. Harland was literary editor for the entire run. Beardsley was art editor until just before the publication of Volume V, when he was fired by the publisher, John Lane, under severe pressure from several of the firm's more prominent authors following the arrest of Oscar Wilde.
'The color of The Yellow Book was an appropriate reflection of the "Yellow Nineties", a decade in which Victorianism was giving way among the fashionable to Regency attitudes and French influences; for yellow was not only the decor of the notorious and dandified pre-Victorian Regency, but also of the allegedly wicked and decadent French novel.' (Weintraub, 99).
13 volumes, octavo, bound in the original decorated yellow cloth, copiously illustrated; some slight darkening to the bindings but overall a fine, bright set.