Best known for his witty, ingenious novels, Ronald Firbank began his literary apprenticeship as a writer of short stories (or "contes," as he called them), all of which are gathered here for the first time. They were written at a time when the literature of the decadent 1890s was maturing into the modernism of the early twentieth century, a growth reflected here as Firbank works through a variety of styles, genres, and voices, both imitating and subverting the literary models of his day. Written between the ages of seventeen and twenty-two, they are, properly speaking, his juvenilia, and are not to be judged by the standards of his mature work. All the seeds of the later work, however, were planted in this early work, and it is instructive and entertaining to observe Firbank as he tends his literary garden.Ranging from impressionistic prose poems and allegories to sardonic vignettes of high-society life, they all display Firbank's satiric eye and stylistic flair. Only a few of the stories were published commercially; most have been available only in expensive, limited editions, and four stories are published here for the first time from Firbank's manuscripts. Included in a appendix are two other pieces Firbank wrote at the same age--the poem "The Wind & the Roses" and his only venture into art criticism, "An Early Flemish Painter"--and detailed textual notes that give the publishing history for all the works.