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DEVON COX, Ph.D., is an American-born writer and historian currently living and working in London. His debut biography, The Street of Wonderful Possibilities: Whistler, Wilde & Sargent in Tite Street, was nominated for the William MB Berger Prize in British Art History. He is currently working on a new biography of the artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).

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For the outspoken American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler it was ‘the birthplace of art’ and for his protégé Oscar Wilde it would always be a street of ‘wonderful possibilities’. From the 1870s to 1930s, London's Tite Street was the centre of the bohemian art world in Britain, producing some of the most iconic masterpieces in art and literature of the era from John Singer Sargent’s sumptuous Gilded Age portraits to Wilde’s controversial classic The Picture of Dorian Gray.


And yet, for all its beauty, this bohemian enclave had a shadowy side as well. This was a street where rent boys mingled with royalty, where music hall dancers married millionaires, where flower girls were plucked off the street to become celebrated models overnight. This was the street that saw Whistler bankrupted, Frank Miles sent to an asylum, Oscar Wilde imprisoned and composer Peter Warlock gassed to death.


Against the backdrop of conservative Victorian society, Tite Street became a safe haven for the avant-garde and for leading LGBTQ+ personalities including the camp Italian caricaturist Carlo Pellegrini, Oscar Wilde, Romaine Brooks, the suffragette Edith Elizabeth Downing and her lover Ellen Sparks as well as Radclyffe Hall, Gluck, Brian Howard and Glyn Philpot among many others.


Throughout its turbulent existence, Tite Street mirrored the world around it. From the Aesthetic Movement and its challenge to Victorian values through the Edwardian struggle for women’ s suffrage to the bombs of the Blitz in the 1940s, it remained home to innumerable artists and writers, socialites and suffragettes, musicians and madmen.


The Street of Wonderful Possibilities reveals this complex history, tying together private and professional lives to form a colourful tapestry of art and intrigue, illuminating their relationships to each other, to Tite Street and to a rapidly modernising London at the fin de siècle.

'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.'

-The Londonist

'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.'

-Nicola Shulman, Evening Standard


'This book is a fascinating and absorbing record of a time when Chelsea was at the edge of the avant garde.'

-Daisy Goodwin, The Times



'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.'

-Edwin Heathcote, the Financial Times

'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.'

-The Lady


'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.'



'... an engrossing, detailed and somewhat melancholy group biography.'

-The Guardian

'... an important book.'

-Peter York, World of Interiors


Literary Agent: 

Clare Alexander

Film / TV Rights:

Lesley Thorne


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