New Publications


Wratislaw Theodore Wratislaw: Fragments of a Life

by D. J. Sheppard

Theodore Wratislaw is one of the most biographically elusive figures of the ‘decadent’ 1890s. Though invariably named in accounts of the period, he remains a marginal figure, crowded out by more notorious contemporaries. When noticed, it is usually as an imposter who, whilst adopting the decadent – and, on occasion, homoerotic – pose in his poetry, lived the convention-bound life of a civil servant. The accusation of insincerity has stuck, and had a deleterious impact on the assessment of his work.

As the present volume reveals, however, the accusation is based on a mistaken view of his life. Contrary to John Betjeman’s assessment of the ‘buttoned up figure obviously longing to burst out of his narrow neatness,’ Wratislaw’s struggle was to maintain some semblance of bourgeois respectability rather than to escape it. Besides recurring mental illness, he experienced trials and tribulations in his private life on a scale to rival almost any of his peers included amongst Yeats’s ‘tragic generation.’

Hardback: 15.6 x 23.4 cm., 296 pp. 15 black and white illustrations

ISBN 978 1 904201 23 4
£40.00 / $50.00

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Greening Arthur Greening: That Damned Elusive Publisher

by David Wilkinson

Arthur Greening (1865-1939) an enterprising song and dance man, the son of a Clapham greengrocer, was torn between business and the stage. In 1897, after serving an apprentice with a provincial newspaper and in partnership with Clement Scott, the drama critic of the Daily Telegraph, he founded his own publishing house. Constantly under-capitalized, the company struggled until success followed the publication of Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1905.

Seven years later Greening & Co Ltd went into liquidation after a High Court case involving a shareholder and Lord Alfred Douglas. Greening’s elusive nature involved dividing himself between two women; he had lived with the shadowy Irene Nason in Surrey since exiling Martha and his two children to Zennor in West Cornwall in 1903. As business dwindled he began to relax in Zennor and, aside from founding the local cricket club, he took to the stage again. Then, in 1925 he and Irene married and set sail for a new life in Australia where they lived on a coral-fringed desert island for a year.

Hardback: 15.6 x 23.4 cm., 276 pp. 47 black and white illustrations

ISBN 978 1 904201 27 4
£40.00 / $60.00

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From Bow Street to the Ritz: Oscar Wilde's Theatrical Career from 1895 to 1908

by Michael Seeney

Most studies of Wilde have assumed that because his plays left the West End for a time after his imprisonment, his work was not seen on stage until the new century. But all through his time in prison and after the theatres of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland saw all four of the comedies on a regular basis. Using contemporary newspaper and other reports this study brings together a wealth of material on the many tours as well as providing useful background on the state of provincial theatres and touring companies at the turn of the century - an area that has long been neglected.

The period covered is from Wilde’s arrest to the Robert Ross dinner at the Ritz in 1908, by which time Wilde’s copyrights had been secured and theatre managers no longer worried about publicising his name. A separate chapter deals with the extensive tours of Wilde plays in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and China during the same period.

Paperback: 15.6 x 23.4 cm., 176 pp. 16 black and white illustrations and 4 colour plates

ISBN 978 1 904201 26 7
£12.50 / $20.00

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Charles Ricketts, Everything For Art: Selected Writings

edited with an introduction by Nicholas Frankel

Charles Ricketts (1866-1931) has been called the quintessence of the 1890s. One of the period’s foremost book designers and illustrators, he was eagerly sought after by many of the leading writers and publishers of his day, and he collaborated frequently with Oscar Wilde (among others), for whom he designed numerous books.

While Ricketts is well-known for his collaborations, this is the first book to present Ricketts as an intellectual force in his own right. It demonstrates the breadth of vision driving one of the most important (and neglected) aesthetes of the late-Victorian era, gathering Ricketts’s writings in the fields of book design, art history, memoir, and fiction. Along with reproductions of over thirty of Ricketts’s most beautiful designs (eight in colour), it includes full texts of “The Unwritten Book” (1892), “Of Typography and The Harmony of the Printed Page” (1896), A Defence of the Revival of Printing (1899), Beyond The Threshold (1929), and Oscar Wilde: Recollections (1932) – the latter an indispensable and intimate account by one whom Wilde called “the subtle and fantastic decorator” of his work. It reveals Ricketts as a nuanced theorist of typography, a decisive figure in the history of printing, a skilled writer of fiction and art criticism, and a careful observer of a period in which he was also a major player. It will interest all students of the fin-de-siècle, as well as those with specialized interests in book history and design, the visual arts, Oscar Wilde, Michael Field, and the Decadent Movement.

Hardbound: 15.6 x 23.4 cm., 351 pp. 33 black and white illustrations and 8 color plates

ISBN 978 1 904201 22 9
£40.0 / $60.00

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Aesthetic Lives:‘New experiences, new subjects of poetry, new forms of art’

edited by Bénédicte Coste and Catherine Delyfer

In his epoch-making book of 1873, Walter Pater described the medieval Renaissance as a search for ‘new experiences, new subjects of poetry, new forms of art.’ But knowing his oblique way of discussing the present under the guise of the past, one may argue that in The Renaissance Pater was also in fact defi ning a contemporary tendency, a contemporary rebirth, which coincided with the rise of ‘Aestheticism’ and is the object of the present collection of essays. The purpose of this volume, however, is not so much to define Aestheticism strictly as to frame it more comprehensively and, building on current research, explore the Aesthetic experience as a new and specific category.

Hardbound: 15.6 x 23.4 cm., 217 pp.

ISBN 978 1 904201 23 6
£30.0 / $45.00

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