The Houghton Library at Harvard University announces the publication of a catalogue to accompany The Yellow Book: A Centenary Exhibition, commemoating the one-hundredth anniversary of the most important and notorious British magazine of the 1890s, the first to market High Culture to mass audiences in England and America through modern advertising strategies. A principal aim of the catalogue is to dispel the usual myths about the Yellow Book -- i.e., that Oscar Wilde was a shaping force behind it (he was not); that it was merely an experiment conducted by and for an elite, decadent few (it was not); and that its cultural significance ceased after Aubrey Beardsley's dismissal (it did not). Instead, the focus is on the magazine's synthetic and collaborative character as a herald of modernity. The Yellow Book was not the product of a single "Great Man" or of a uniform vision, but of a broad network of female and male authors, editors, illustrators, and booksellers, who came from diverse class and national backgrounds and who labored to bring together the interests of art and business. It encouraged developments in literary form that went beyond the conventional and shaped, in particular, the genre of the short story. And, at a time when patriarchal control of High Art was still the rule, the Yellow Book featured cover designs by women for four of its final five issues, as well as works by large numbers of female poets and fiction writers, two of whom also served as sub-editors of the magazine. This reconsideration suggests that the Yellow Book played a pivotal role in cultural history as much through its concrete editorial practices and production as through its avant-garde image.

The catalogue contains ten illustrations and a check-list enumerating nearly a hundred books, letters, manuscripts, drawings, and posters drawn primarily from Harvardıs holdings in the Houghton Library and the Fogg Art Museum with loans from other private and institutional collections.

Margaret D. Stetz, Associate Professor of English and Womenıs Studies at Georgetown University, and Mark Samuels Lasner, a bibliographer and President of the William Morris Society of the United States, have published widely on Victorian literature. They have collaborated on two previous shows, at the libraries of the University of Virginia and Georgetown University, and co-authored two catalogues, England in the 1880s: Old Guard and Avant-Garde (1989) and England in 1890s: Literary Publishing at the Bodley Head (1990).

The Yellow Book: A Centenary Exhibition By Margaret D. Stetz & Mark Samuels Lasner

Printed by the Stinehour Press, Lunenburg, Vermont

64 pages, 10 illustrations, softbound Price: $10.00
isbn 0­914630­13­x Postage $1.00
Available April 1994

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