Sturgis, Matthew 1960-

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Sturgis, Matthew 1960-


Born 1960, in Camden Town, London, England.


Home—London, England.


Freelance writer and critic.


The English Cat at Home, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 1988.

Tosca's Christmas, illustrated by Anne Mortimer, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1989.

Tosca's Surprise, illustrated by Anne Mortimer, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 1991.

1992 and All This, Macmillan (London, England), 1991.

Off the Leash: My Life as a Royal Corgi, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1995.

Passionate Attitudes: The English Decadence of the Eighteen Nineties, Macmillan (London, England), 1995.

Hampton Court Palace, Channel 4 Books (London, England), 1998.

Aubrey Beardsley: A Biography, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 1998.

(Editor) Aubrey Beardsley, Aubrey Beardsley: Poems, The Eighteen Nineties Society (Bicester, England), 1998.

(With Mark McCrum) 1900 House, Channel 4 Books (London, England), 1999.

Masks and Phases: A Dialogue, Rivendale Press (Buckinghamshire, England), 1999.

It Ain't Necessarily So: Investigating the Truth of the Biblical Past, Headline Book Publishing (London, England), 2001.

Walter Sickert: A Life, HarperCollins (London, England), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Harper's & Queen, Sunday Telegraph, and the Independent on Sunday.


The subject of Matthew Sturgis's 1998 release, Aubrey Beardsley: A Biography, was an English illustrator and author of the 1890s whose controversial (often erotic) drawings helped to define the burgeoning Art Nouveau style. Beardsley rose to prominence by contributing illustrations to such art journals as The Studio, Pall Mall, and The Yellow Book. A cover illustration for Oscar Wilde's Salomé secured Beardsley's celebrity, but also led to the downfall of his reputation after Wilde was arrested for indecency. Beardsley died at the age of twenty-five from tuberculosis, having recently converted to Roman Catholicism. Sturgis's biography spans Beardsley's short life in the context of the early beginnings of modernism. Writing for the Austin Chronicle, David Garza described the book as "an excellent and unintoxicated study of this notorious life that paints all the decadence of fin-de-siècle London without overlooking the serious intellectual development that led to the rise of the dandy archetype in stature and style." Garza concluded that Sturgis constructs "a dramatic and pathos-laden narrative of a life that smelled of sweat just as much as roses." Eclectica contributor Ann Akea wrote: "Sturgis gives a balanced, interesting and informative account of Beardsley's life and a clear and knowledgeable assessment of his work and the artistic influences from which it developed." "This is a very well wrought book," remarked Contemporary Review writer Richard Whittington-Egan, "the best biography yet, with new material, particularly about Beardsley's childhood and early years." A Publishers Weekly reviewer maintained that "Sturgis is in full command of the cultural conditions that led to Beardsley's emergence as an enfant terrible."

While doing research for Beardsley's biography, Sturgis uncovered a number of intriguing personal links to the illustrator's benefactor, the English painter Walter Sickert. In addition to Sturgis living only doors away from the Sickert's former studio and celebrating a birthday exactly one hundred years apart, Sturgis's own grandmother owned a Sickert original. Sturgis was moved to write Walter Sickert: A Life. In an interview with Camden New Journal writer Gerald Isaaman, Sturgis discussed the extent of Sickert's influence on turn-of-the-century art in England: "Sickert was such a huge person in the artistic life of the nation…. He is unknown and unloved by the general populace but in the artistic world there was a feeling that here was someone important about whom people want to know more." Reviewing Walter Sickert for Bibliofemme, Sinéad Gleeson wrote: "Sturgis' equipoise of information and readability makes it an insightful book…. His tone throughout is engaging, assuredly keeping the reader interested while informing them at the same time." London Times reviewer Frances Spalding remarked that Sturgis is "hugely informative and never dull. He brings out Sickert's passion, integrity and the complex interweaving of his private and public life." Richard Shone commented in a review for the Spectator that Sturgis "has woven together the considerable state of scholarship now attached to Sickert's output as a painter and the wealth of new material he has unearthed pertaining to the life. At last Sickert has the biography he deserves."



Contemporary Review, August, 1998, Richard Whittington-Egan, review of Aubrey Beardsley: A Biography, p. 107.

Publishers Weekly, January 4, 1999, review of Aubrey Beardsley, p. 79.

Spectator, February 12, 2005, "The Painter Properly Portrayed," review of Walter Sickert: A Life, p. 36.


Bibliofemme, (March, 2005), Sinéad Gleeson, review of Walter Sickert.

Camden New Journal, (February 17, 2005), Gerald Isaaman, author interview.

Eclectica, (November, 1998), Ann Skea, review of Aubrey Beardsley.

London Times Online, (January 16, 2005), Frances Spalding, review of Walter Sickert.

Weekly Wire, (April 26, 1999) David Garza, review of Aubrey Beardsley.