Under the Hill and other essays in poetry and verse

Published: London: John Lane, Bodley Head

Date: 1904

Limited edition. One of fifty copies printed on Japanese vellum. 4to (290x225mm). pp. xi, [v], 70, [10], 6pp of advertisements for other works by Beardsley. Frontispiece is a photograph of Beardsley at Mentone in the room where he died. Fourteen plates by Beardsley together with two tailpieces in the text. Three of the illustrations are published here for the first time. Publisher’s special edition cream buckram with an elaborate gilt floral design inside a triple ruled gilt border on the upper cover with gilt lettering. Gilt spine lettering. Top edge gilt. Head and foot of the spine a little bumped, spine slightly darkened and some marking to the covers but overall and excellent copy with all Beardsley’s illustrations in superb condition.

Under the Hill is a romantic novel which Beardsley worked on throughout the 1890s but left unfinished at his death. Beardsley originally offered the book to John Lane but the early chapters were first published in serial form by Leonard Smithers in The Savoy. When Smithers was declared bankrupt, Lane acquired all the surviving material for the book, including most of the pictures, and issued this 1904 edition, heavily Bowdlerised but beautifully illustrated. Lane published it as Under the Hill although Beardsley’s own title was The Story of Venus and Tannhäuser but it is hard to see the link with Tannhäuser in these few chapters. The other work collected here, a mixture of verse, a letter, some examples of Beardsley’s table talk is, like his illustrations, fluid, camp and rococo; it prefigures Ronald Firbank and one can imagine Anthony Blanche cooing over its lapidary excesses.