(b Brighton, 21 Aug. 1872; d Menton, France, 16 Mar. 1898). English illustrator and writer. Beardsley had a talent for drawing from childhood and had almost no formal training in art (he attended evening classes at Westminster School of Art for a few months). However, he read voraciously and studied the art of the past and present, and his work drew on a variety of influences, including the sinuous line of Burne-Jones (who encouraged him) and the strong patterns of Japanese prints (see Ukiyo-e). In spite of these influences, his style is highly distinctive in the way he contrasts subtle use of line with bold masses of black and in his blending of grotesque humour with a sense of morbid depravity. He made a name for himself with illustrations for an edition of Malory's Morte d'Arthur (1893–4), and in 1894 he became notorious with the publication of his illustrations to the English version of Oscar Wilde's Salome and the appearance of the first issue of The Yellow Book, a quarterly periodical of which he was art editor.
Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)