British illustrator John Austen (1886–1948) illustrated many classic works of fiction throughout the 1920s, one of which, Hamlet, was recently reprinted by Dover Publications. His other work isn’t so easy to find, however, and I’d not seen Little Ape and Other Stories (1921) until Nick H drew my attention to a copy for sale at silver-gryph’s eBay pages. (Thanks, Nick!)
Ralph Holbrook Keen’s story collection was Austen’s first illustrated edition although you wouldn’t necessarily take it for a debut work. There are the familiar nods to Beardsley—the black-and-yellow cover especially—and possibly Harry Clarke whose influence is more evident in the Hamlet drawings. Clarke and Austen exhibited together in 1925. The skeleton with a floral crown makes me think of the rose-crowned skeleton in Edmund J. Sullivan’s Rubáiyát (1913), although this may be a result of Sullivan’s drawing having been made very familiar by its use on Mouse & Kelley’s posters for the Grateful Dead. One of the many connections between the Golden Age of Illustration and the Golden Age of Psychedelia.