Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Yellow Books

Recently a large unadorned structural objet came into my daily work life, and it called out for some immediate tarting up.

So I papered it.  I've been collecting wallpaper samples for the past decade, having almost papered my dining room. For this small but conspicuous project, I went to my first wallpaper discovery, J. R. Burrows and selected Priory Garden, which was created in the "style" of William Morris. 

I did notice that the Burrows Company said that rolls of the wallpaper, imported from England somewhere around 1983, were found in the attic of the Nowrood, Massachusetts, family home of the publisher and photographer Fred Holland Day, but attic schmattic, Day Schmay, blah,blah, blah: I was interested in the flowers and colours.

So (and there's always a "so") I was surprised to learn, while discussing how many rolls to order with the charming J. R. Burrows over the phone, that my new wallpaper has a literary pedigree. 

For Fred Holland Day, who papered his father's bedroom in the historic Norwood Holland Day House with Priory Garden, also published the American edition of The Yellow Book, a popular literary magazine (1894-1897) from London. 

The illustrator Aubrey Beardsley was its first art editor, and male literary greats such as Henry James, William Butler Yeats and H. G. Wells were printed in it.  The Yellow Book also promoted women writers, such as Ada Leverson and illustrators, such as Ethel Reed.

A couple of other Yellow Books that have recently caught my eye are those by the artist Harland Miller. Utterly self-aware of his sometimes "macho" (his word) work, Miller creates fictional Penguin covers with a wink. 

Some of these covers look to be a good eight feet tall; some fit beautifully over a mantle, such as this cheeky pink book in the London home of decorator Harriet Anstruther:

The fine print is bold.
 There do not appear to be any yellow books in Anstruther's home, but lush, bitten rosy pinks abound:

I'll give Miller the last word:

1 comment:

K.Line said...

Happy birthday to you!!