DEVON COX, Ph.D., is an American writer and historian currently living and working in London. His critically acclaimed debut biography, The Street of Wonderful Possibilities: Whistler, Wilde & Sargent in Tite Street, was shortlisted for the prestigious Berger Prize in British Art History. He is currently working on a new biography of John Singer Sargent.
For James Abbott McNeill Whistler, the outspoken and visionary American artist, London's Tite Street was the 'birthplace of art' while for Oscar Wilde it was a street of 'wonderful possibilities.' From the 1880s to 1910s, Tite Street was the epicentre of a thriving avant-garde scene in Britain, producing some of the most iconic works of art and literature of the period from Whistler's famous nocturnes to Sargent's Gilded Age portraiture to Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.
And yet, for all its glorious creations, Tite Street had a dark side as well. This was a street that saw Whistler bankrupted, Frank Miles driven insane, Oscar Wilde arrested and Peter Warlock gassed to death. Famed for its bohemian spirit, this was a street where barmaids, prostitutes and dance-hall singers mingled with royalty and where flower girls were plucked from the streets to become celebrated models.
From the Aesthetic Movement and its challenge to Victorian values, through the Edwardian struggle for women's suffrage, Tite Street became a safe haven for the daring and unconventional rule-breakers of the age including a prolific number of pioneering LGBTQ+ artists and writers such as Oscar Wilde, Glyn Philpot, Romaine Brooks, Edith Downing, Gluck, Radclyffe Hall and many others.
'A well-informed, nicely produced book about Tite Street in merrier, cheaper times, when it could claim to the be epicentre of art in England.'
'This book is a fascinating and absorbing record of a time when Chelsea was at the edge of the avant garde.'
'Cox has done an admirable job of marshalling his material ... The book is well-populated with the voices of its protagonists and their critics, lending it a rich anecdotal texture and allowing the great egos of Tite Street to speak for themselves.'
-Thomas Marks, The Telegraph
'... with paintings by Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert and others from their Tite Street circle, The Street of Wonderful Possibilities covers the idol worship, arrogance, incestuousness and innovation emerging from this slice of the city.'
'This exceptionally handsome book - a biography of the street, its residents and their connections - elucidates some of [Tite Street's] possibilities. And pretty wonderful they are too.'
-Matthew Sturgis, Country Life
'Cox's beautifully written book is not only a scholarly and entertaining description of a vanished world but also a valuable work of reference.'
-Jane Dorrell, the Chelsea Society
'This well-researched, and eminently readable biography of one street in London, whose occupants make up a dramatic personae of outstanding talent over a period of 120 years ... The result, with a red ribbon tastefully tied around it, would make a lovely box of chocolates.'s.'
'Cox paints an ingenious group portrait of the artists, writers, critics, architects and luvvies who pursued the muse to Chelsea. The new houses being built to residents' specifications in Tite Street weren't just homes or studios but, Cox argues, expressions of aesthetic ideologies... in bricks and mortar.'
'What a group biography ... Cox bounces back and forth across Tite Street, rallying his subjects like characters in a high-class soap opera... an assured and dazzling debut.'
'... an engrossing, detailed and somewhat melancholy group biography.'
'... an important book.'
-Peter York, World of Interiors
'The street that on a wet and dreary morning has vouchsafed the vision of Lady Macbeth in full regalia can never be as other streets, it must always be a street of wonderful possibilities.'