Leonard Smithers

A key figure of the Nineties, he published many books that more conventional publishers would not touch - ranging from the works of Symons, Dowson, Beardsley and Wilde through to outright pornography.

Oscar Wilde described him thus:
"He is usually in a large straw hat, has a blue tie delicately fastened with a diamond brooch of the impurest water - or perhaps wine, as he never touches water: it goes to his head at once. His face, clean-shaven as befits a priest who serves at the altar whose God is Literature, is wasted and pale - not with poetry but with poets, who he says, have wrecked his life by insisting on publishing with him. He loves first editions, especially of women: little girls are his passion. he is the most learned erotomaniac in Europe. he is also a delightful companion..."


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