Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) was probably the most extraordinary, the most celebrated, and the most notorious illustrator of his day. This book, which accompanies a major centenary exhibition on Beardsley, tells the story of his brief, hectic life and uncovers the roots of his genius in the racy artistic and literary culture of 1890s London.Beardsley's startling drawings, prints, bookbindings, and posters are reproduced here from original drawings and from rare early editions of his work. Portraits and photographs of his friends and contemporaries, among them Oscar Wilde, James McNeill Whistler, Edward Burne-Jones, Max Beerbohm, and W. B. Yeats, bring his story to life. The authoritative text is the first to fully explore Beardsley's diverse influences, which range from ancient Greek vase paintings to erotic Japanese ukiyo-e prints.The book concludes with a look at Beardsley's artistic legacy and the legend that has grown around him. It demonstrates why his drawings, with their subtle symbolism, highly charged eroticism, sensuous ornamentalism, and self-conscious decadence, have a renewed resonance in our own turn-of-the-century world.