Keynotes was a series of 34 novels and short story collections published by John Lane from 1893. Aubrey Beardsley produced cover designs and embellishments for 22 of the titles in 1895 while he was working on The Yellow Book which John Lane was also publishing. Beardsley’s designs comprised a title frame with illustration or decoration which was blocked in gold on the cover and also used as a title page. For 15 of the titles he also created a series of key-shaped monograms for the authors, designs which were used on the spines and the backs of the books. Collections of Beardsley’s art often show one or two of these pieces but you seldom see them all, and even when the title frames are reproduced the type is often omitted.
Keynotes Series of Novels and Short Stories was a small book published in 1896 intended to gather all the Beardsley designs in one place and also promote the series in general. Two of the most celebrated works to receive the Beardsley treatment are those by Arthur Machen: The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light, and The Three Imposters. The decoration for the latter gives no indication of the horrors lurking inside that volume, while the faun on The Great God Pan is a world away from the amorphous nightmare in a story that caused considerable outrage at the time. According to Stanley Weintraub’s biography, the Keynotes series was very popular despite (or because of) the stir it caused, and helped keep Beardsley’s work visible when many of his other illustrations were out of circulation.