This book attracts the attention because of the typical Aubrey Beardsley illustrations, in a typically yellow hue; one on the front cover; and the second on the title page. The latter first appeared here, and is said to have been an unused Beardsley design for Ruding's 'An Evil Motherhood'. Another 'first' in the book is the poem "Sound" by John Gray. Other famous names selected by the author include Beardsley, Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wilde, Housman, Francis Thompson and W B Yeats.
Alphonse James Albert Symons (1900–1941) was an English writer and bibliographer, who founded the First Edition Club to publish limited editions and to organise exhibitions of rare books and manuscripts. In 1924 he published a bibliography of first editions of the works of Yeats, and in 1930 he founded the Book Collector's Quarterly. An authority on writers and editions of the 1890s, he published "An Anthology of 'Nineties Verse" in 1928. Other works were mainly biographies, the best-known being "The Quest for Corvo" (about Frederick Rolfe, the self-styled 'Baron of Corvo'), which was subtitled 'an experiment in biography', and, rather than simply narrating the subject's life, described the author's search for understanding of his subject, revealing aspects of Rolfe's life and character as they are revealed to the author. Though it appears entirely natural, the work is very skillfully orchestrated. The result is a vivid, prismatic portrait of Rolfe, those who knew him, and of Symons himself.
Our copy is in very good condition for its age, with a dull dark yellow cloth spine, and buff paper-covered boards printed with all necessary information and the Beardsley illustration in black. Very little sign of wear, age or use externally, apart from some general grubbiness. Inside, the binding is firm, free endpapers lightly browned, and all the roughcut pages clean and bright. A neat gift inscription in pencil on the front fep. A very nice copy.