[the suppressed edition] Translated from the French of Oscar Wilde. Pictured by Aubrey Beardsley. London: Melmoth & Co. [vere Leonard Smithers], 1904. Original blue-grey cloth on beveled boards.
Limited (Pirated) Edition, which consisted of just 250 copies on handmade paper, this being No. 51 -- the first edition since the 1894 first English edition, and containing two "hitherto suppressed" Beardsley plates.
Wilde's "Salomé" was being rehearsed in June 1892 for production in London (with Sarah Bernhardt in the lead), when the Lord Chamberlain exercised his censorial rights and closed it down, forcing the premiere to occur in Paris. At that time Wilde wrote,
I shall publish SALOMÉ. No one has the right to interfere with me, and no one shall interfere with me... The action of the Censorship in England is odious and ridiculous... If the Censor refuses SALOMÉ [which he did], I shall leave England and settle in France where I will take out letters of naturalization. I will not consent to call myself a citizen of a country which shows such narrowness in its artistic judgment.
Thus the true first edition (in French, unillustrated and in wrappers) was published in Paris in 1893. The year after, Mathews & Lane published the first edition in English -- translated from Wilde's French by his friend and lover Lord Alfred Douglas, and provocatively illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley, known for his Japanese-style portrayals of the grotesque, the decadent and the erotic. This pirated edition by "Melmoth & Co." was the next edition -- after Beardsley's death (at 25!) in 1898 and Wilde's death (at 46) in 1900.
The name Melmoth on the title page was an alias of Leonard Smithers, the publisher... Mr John Lane claiming copyright in the Beardsley plates, the edition was seized and suppressed. [Mason].
The two plates here first seeing the light of day are "John and Salomé" (opposite p. 74) and the second "The Toilette of Salomé" (opposite p. 50). Although the latter is the second so-titled in the book, it was actually the first created by Beardsley: Mathews & Lane had rejected it in 1894 (naked Salomé and naked androgynous youth were apparently OK, but not the other youth masturbating in the foreground) -- so Beardsley produced the much-tamer other version for the 1894 edition. Incidentally, several of the other plates include a peripheral caricature of Wilde -- for example, opposite pages 30 & 36: Beardsley later may have regretted this SALOMÉ collaboration with Wilde, because when Wilde was arrested for indecent morals in 1895, Beardsley was fired, by association, from his job as art editor of The Yellow Book.
In all: this 1904 volume combines four giants of the British Age of Decadence -- Wilde, Beardsley, Douglas and Smithers. The date at the bottom of the spine is 1905, as noted by Mason; the volume is in near-fine condition (spine slightly faded). Mason 615; Gallatin pp 46-49; Samuels Lasner 59B ("Lane... claimed he had a large portion of the edition seized and destroyed"). Item #14290