This feels almost like a postscript to my previous post on Hutchinson’s Crime Book Society, and maybe in the end that’s what the series was to Hutchinson. But it must have started off with much more optimism.
Hutchinson launched the Crime Book Society in June 1936 and the Wild West Pocket Library followed in October of the same year. Four books were published simultaneously to launch the series, but I can only assume that they sold badly, as no more books were added for almost two years after that. Whether it was the choice of titles or authors, or some failure of marketing, I can’t tell, but they were clearly not a success.
Perhaps it was just that Collins had launched its Wild West Club series only two months earlier and there was not enough of a market to support two apparently very similar series. Perhaps Collins had the better authors, or the better stories. Even their series was relatively slow to get going in comparison to the crime series, although it did in the end last a long time.
Whatever the reason, there was no follow up from Hutchinson to the first four titles until July 1938, when two more were published and even then the format was rather different, so that they hardly look like the same series.
The first four books had an image of a group of cowboys on horseback stretched diagonally across the front cover and came in at least two different colours, green and red. The dustwrappers were largely identical to the covers, except that the price of 6d is shown only on the dustwrappers. By the time the later two books were published in 1938, green had been generally accepted in the market as the colour for crime and yellow as the colour for westerns, so both books are in yellow and have a revised cover design with a smaller line of cowboys in silhouette and the title in a white circle. It looks to me like a bit of a mess of a design and certainly not as striking as the design of the earlier books.
The books were presumably no more successful than the first four had been as they were the last books to be added to the series. Only six books ever appeared.
By 1940 though they must have been willing to try again, as through the Leisure Library, a different part of the Hutchinson group, they launched another very similar attempt, this time branded the ‘Wild West Library’. This series did at least make it as far as twelve titles, although in the end it too was relatively short lived.
When Penguin launched in July 1935, Hutchinson as one of the existing publishers of 6d paperbacks, had to respond quickly. Hutchinson’s Pocket Library, in a very Penguin-like format, started just three months later in October 1935. It was followed by a rash of other series in a similar format from different parts of the Hutchinson Group over the next few years, including Jackdaw Books, Toucan Novels and Hutchinson’s Popular Pocket Library.
In June 1936, still less than a year after Penguin had started the Paperback Revolution, the Crime Book Society published its first paperbacks. This was again from the Hutchinson Group, but it was not so much a competitive response to Penguin, as a direct competitor for the Collins Crime Club paperbacks, launched in March 1936. At a time when crime novels were extraordinarily popular, Collins were the clear market leader, although they had allowed Penguin’s green crime titles to steal a march on them.
That Hutchinson saw Collins as their main competitor is clear first from the series name. Collins had their Crime Club series, so Hutchinson launched the Crime Book Society series. It was not a new name and had already been used for some hardback publications and had at least some structure of mailing lists, marketing and book selections, as the Crime Club did, but both were really book series rather than traditional clubs or societies.
It’s also very clear from the cover design. Collins had a stylised design with two masked figures holding a knife and a gun. Hutchinson opted for a single hand with a smoking gun as the main design, and a smaller hand with a dagger in the series panel and on the spine. Collins had the title and author name in a large white circle and the Crime Club logo in a small white circle. Hutchinson had the title and author name in two separate white circles and the logo and series number in smaller circles. On the dustwrappers, Hutchinson replaced the hand with a dagger with the 6d price, while Collins replaced the Crime Club logo with the 6d price.
It should be said though that it was not until a year or so later that Collins adopted ‘White Circle’ as an overall name for their various paperback series, so the use of white circles by Hutchinson was not as aggressive a marketing move as it might appear in retrospect.
Hutchinson also eventually settled on a very similar green to Collins for the colour of its covers, although it didn’t start off like that. The early titles come in a variety of colours, as used for Hutchinson’s Pocket Library, but from about volume 26 onwards they are all green. Green seems almost to have been adopted as an industry standard for paperback crime novels and gradually phased out for non-crime titles.
The one thing that Hutchinson couldn’t easily copy was the quality of authors represented in the Collins Crime Club. Where Collins had Agatha Christie, G.D.H. & M. Cole, Freeman Wills Crofts and John Rhode /Miles Burton, Hutchinson had Hugh Clevely, Seldon Truss and Grierson Dickson. Fine authors they may have been, but it has to be said that they have made little mark on literary history. Other largely forgotten authors in the series included Dawson Gratrix, Leo Grex and Peter Drax – what was it about surnames (or pseudonyms) ending in x?
On the other hand, Hutchinson did have Edgar Wallace and that was almost a guarantee of popularity and of sales. It points though to a suggestion that perhaps the Hutchinson list was biased more towards thrillers than pure detective stories. Collins tended to have a purist approach to crime novels, that treated them almost as puzzles, with appropriate clues for the reader to test himself or herself against the fictional detective. Thrillers, that prioritised excitement and fast-paced adventure, were for Collins a different type of novel, but Hutchinson don’t really seem to have had this distinction.
The first batch of eight titles published in June 1936 actually had quite a distinguished and well recognisable selection of authors, including Baroness Orczy, Eden Phillpotts and Sydney Horler alongside Edgar Wallace. But none of these are really known principally as crime writers in the Collins Crime Club sense, so again the focus seems more to be on thrillers. Some other titles later in the series look to be more like ghost or horror stories than simple crime.
Whatever the genre, the books must have sold relatively well, as the series prospered, or at least lengthened steadily. By the outbreak of war in September 1939 it had reached volume 67 and over the next few months the count increased to 81 by August 1940 and later to at least 85 before the numbering stopped. A few further titles were issued during the war, in a much slimmer wartime economy standard format, first with the price increased to 9d, and later to 1s 6d. Some of these later ones were shown as published by the Readers’ Library Publishing Company in association with Hutchinson, rather than directly by Hutchinson, but I suspect the difference is fairly small.
I know of one single Crime Book Society title published as a Services Edition, although there may well be others. Then after the war, the Crime Book Society seems to have gone back to being principally a hardback series, although a small number of the paperbacks were reprinted in a format very similar to the pre-war editions. These were again priced at 1s 6d, unnumbered, and treated as part of a combined reprint programme of pre-war Hutchinson paperbacks that included books from various series.
One of my previous posts looked at the celebratory volume 500 of the Tauchnitz series in 1860, for which a special gift edition was produced. Copies exist, with dedications from Bernhard Tauchnitz to various friends or colleagues, of an edition bound in full leather with all edges gilt and a portrait of Tauchnitz bound in at the front. In comparison, the standard edition had no portrait and exists in the usual paperback and a range of other bindings, as well as in a green cloth edition produced for sale in the UK.
So what is this? A copy of the gift binding, or at least one very similar to it, with no inscription from Tauchnitz, but instead an inscription 41 years later from a Tauchnitz author. This copy has what seems to be a light-hearted dedication from Tighe Hopkins, author of six Tauchnitz works, perhaps most famously ‘The man in the iron mask’ (Tauchnitz volume 3491, first published in 1901). He inscribes it in that same year to Madge Jones as a Prize for the Ping-Pong (practice) tournament, and adds “Call this a prize!”, which he ascribes to Shakespeare, although it seems unlikely to have anything to do with the bard.
But how did Tighe Hopkins come to have this edition in any case? When the book was published, and presumably this edition was produced, he would have been only four years old, so I think we can rule out this having been presented to him at the time. He became a Tauchnitz author for the first time only in 1899, two years before this dedication and four years after the death of Bernhard Tauchnitz in 1895. Surely the firm did not still have a stock of the special gift editions 40 years on, that it was presenting to new authors? And on closer inspection of the binding, although very similar, it is not quite identical to the original gift binding. It looks like a slightly more modern version of it, so possibly bound up years later.
A clue though comes from an article published in Pall Mall magazine in 1901. There are twelve pages on ‘”The Tauchnitz” Edition – The story of a popular publisher’, written by Tighe Hopkins and illustrated by photos of the first and second Barons Tauchnitz and their home and office buildings. It is extremely complimentary to the firm and quotes extensively from the Tauchnitz archive of letters from authors, much as the firm’s own memorial volumes do. Indeed it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that it could easily have been written by somebody from the Tauchnitz firm itself. Certainly if Tighe Hopkins was writing it, he was doing the firm a favour and he would have required personal access to the Tauchnitz archive.
So was he perhaps offered a specially bound edition of volume 500 as a thank you present? Or perhaps one of a few that had been bound up as gifts after the original stock had gone? It seems at least possible, although sadly if so, it was not signed by the second Baron. And perhaps equally sadly, Hopkins seems not to have placed great value on the gift, passing it on within months, perhaps to a young friend, or to someone who beat him at table tennis.
Elinor Glyn was not a typical Tauchnitz author. Her work had few literary pretensions. and she wrote light frothy romantic fiction. But what she did have was sex. Not of course anything very explicit – this was in the early twentieth century when Victorian attitudes still prevailed, but even underlying hints of sexual activity could be enough to excite readers in those times.
Her first work published in Tauchnitz created something of a literary sensation, becoming the sixth bestselling novel of 1901. ‘The visits of Elizabeth’ recorded the letters home of a naive young lady on a series of visits around the homes of relatives and friends. She sees a lot of goings-on, to which she is happy in her charming way, to assign the most innocent of explanations. The work appeared as volume 3504 of the Tauchnitz series and the first printing was dated June 1901 on the wrappers. For bound editions, the first printing should show no other titles by the same author on the back of the half-title.
So successful was it that it attracted imitators. Just four months later, as volume 3528, dated October 1901, Tauchnitz published ‘The letters of her mother to Elizabeth’. The book was published anonymously, but was by W.R.H. Trowbridge (a pseudonym for William Rutherford Hayes) and filled in the letters in the other direction that came between Elizabeth’s letters.
Not surprisingly, Elinor Glyn was less than impressed by this. In her next work to appear in the series, ‘The reflections of Ambrosine’ (vol. 3636), she is at pains to emphasis that she had not written either the Trowbridge book or another anonymous work. She was right to be concerned about this. Even today, over a hundred years later, various internet sources cite Elinor Glyn as the author of ‘The letters of her mother to Elizabeth’.
‘The reflections of Ambrosine’ is not written in letters, but is a similar style of first person narrative from a young woman, relating the goings-on in high society. The first printing in Tauchnitz is dated February 1903 on paperback copies, or on bound copies, should list just the one previous title by Glyn on the back of the half-title. It was followed by ‘The vicissitudes of Evangeline’ (vol. 3805, dated April 1905 and listing the two previous works on the back of the half-title) and by ‘Beyond the Rocks’ (vol. 3892, dated June 1906 and listing three previous works).
The next to come was ‘Three weeks’, published in July 1907 as volume 3978, and perhaps the work that more than any other, established Glyn’s name and reputation. It told the story of a three week affair between a young British aristocrat and a much older woman who turns out to be a mysterious foreign Queen. Their romps on a tiger skin led to the popular doggerel “Would you like to sin, with Elinor Glyn, on a tiger skin. Or would you prefer, to err with her, on some other fur’.
Suggestions that the book was based on an affair that Glyn herself had with a much younger man (Lord Alistair Innes Ker, brother of the Duxe of Roxburghe), would have done nothing to harm the sales of it. And it does seem to have sold well, with regular reprints and a continuing demand for new works.
Glyn was happy to oblige, coming back next to her first character, Elizabeth, and the same format of letters written home to her mother. ‘Elizabeth visits America’ (vol. 4124, dated June 1909 and listing five previous works) is much the same kind of thing, although Elizabeth is now older, married and a little less naive.
In the meantime, Glyn was herself pursuing another affair, with Lord Curzon, the former Viceroy of India and then Chancellor of Oxford University. To maintain this affair, cover her husband’s debts and keep up her standard of living, she had to keep writing. Five more works followed in the years running up to the first World War – ‘His hour’ (vol. 4230, December 1910), ‘The reason why’ (vol. 4305, January 1912), ‘Halcyone’ (vol. 4367, October 1912), ‘The Contrast (vol. 4427, July 1913) and ‘Guinevere’s Lover’ (vol. 4500, July 1914).
The war years of course interrupted any further publications in Tauchnitz and even afterwards it took several years for the firm to recover anything like its previous position. Elinor Glyn seems to have written less in this period anyway, but her career was starting to move in other directions. In 1914 a silent movie was made of ‘Three weeks’ and in 1920 she herself moved to Hollywood to become a scriptwriter. ‘Beyond the rocks’ was filmed in 1922, starring Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson and although Glyn did not write the screenplay for this, she was involved in the production and worked with Swanson on other films. Two years later she did write the screenplay for a remake of ‘Three weeks’, from which she allegedly made $65,000 as a 40% share of the profits.
As Tauchnitz recovered in the 1920s, it was still keen to publish any new novels by Glyn. ‘Man and Maid’ appeared as volume 4577 in May 1922, followed by ‘Six Days’ (vol. 4631, March 1924), ‘The great moment (vol. 4678, March 1925) and ‘Love’s blindness’ (vol. 4732, May 1926), all appearing relatively quickly after UK publication. Then in 1927 came ‘”It” and other stories’ (vol. 4807, November 1927). By the time it appeared in Tauchnitz, “It” had been made into a silent film earlier in 1927, making a major star of its leading lady, Clara Bow, who became the first ‘It’ girl.
But the era of silent movies was coming to an end, and with it Elinor Glyn’s particular brand of slightly risqué eroticism. She returned to England from Hollywood in 1929, and later attempts at both screenplay writing and film directing were not successful. She continued to write, but her moment had passed. The 1930s were a different era and Tauchnitz with other problems of its own, had had enough of Elinor Glyn. Reprints certainly continued into the early thirties, but there were no more new publications after “It”, so she finished on a total of 16 volumes spread over more than 25 years.
I’ve looked in previous posts at the development of Penguin Books in the US, first from 1942 to 1945 and then from 1945 to 1948, a period that led up to the final rift with the UK business and the creation of the New American Library. That rift was probably as much as anything to do with the use of illustrated covers in the American market, although Allen Lane seems to have seen it as a much wider difference of opinion over the direction of the business. His perception was that the business was going too far downmarket, publishing too many books of dubious morality.
That perception is challenged by the development of Pelican Books in the US. Victor Weybright, who had taken charge of the US Penguin business alongside Kurt Enoch, after Ian Ballantine’s departure, had been seriously impressed by Pelican Books in the UK. He saw a gap in the US market for a non-fiction paperback series and was convinced that Penguin could fill it with an American version of Pelicans.
The US Pelican series launched at the end of 1945 or the start of 1946 with a mixture of books sourced from Penguin in the UK, and others sourced from American publishers. The first volume, P1, was ‘Public Opinion’ by Walter Lippmann, first published in 1922 and a classic American text. It was followed by ‘Patterns of Culture’ by the American anthropologist, Ruth Benedict, hardly less classic – and then by a British text, ‘You and Music’ by Christian Darnton, that had appeared in the UK Pelican series as volume A68.
Slightly oddly, these first three numbered volumes are all dated January 1946, while volume P4, George Gamow’s ‘The birth and death of the Sun’, is shown as published in December 1945. Also slightly oddly, Weybright’s autobiography recalls ‘The revolt of the masses’ by José Ortega y Gasset as one of the first titles, although it did not appear until much later, after the split with Penguin in the UK.
The volumes look very similar to the main series US Penguins in the new format introduced at that time, with a Pelican logo in a circle replacing the various shapes used for the Penguin logo. The price was the same at 25c, the covers have the same plastic laminating, now often peeling away, and the cover designs, almost all by Robert Jonas, look very similar too.
By the end of 1946 the series had reached 11 volumes, and the eleventh volume, ‘Heredity, race and society’ by L.C. Dunn & T.H. Dobzhansky, is the first one to be a new book specially written for the series, rather than a reprint. In the UK, Pelicans had started as a reprint series before moving to commission their own books, and the process was now underway in the US as well. P11 was also the first for a period to have no direct indication of price on the book. It was becoming difficult to maintain the standard price of 25c and for a few months no price was indicated, although some books carry a 35c sticker. From volume P18 onward, the price is marked as 35c.
The format of mixing UK reprints with more specifically American books continued throughout 1947, while negotiations for the separation from UK Penguin went on. In October, E.V. Rieu’s translation of ‘The Odyssey’ that had been a surprising literary success in the UK, and had sold well also in the US Penguin main series, moved across to the Pelican series as volume P21. It followed another, perhaps less surprising success, Kenneth Walker’s ‘The physiology of sex’ that had been reprinted several times in the main series before appearing as a Pelican too.
Then in November 1947, Dunn & Dobzhansky’s ‘Heredity, race and society’ was reprinted, but given a new number as volume P23. I am not aware of any of the other volumes in the series being reprinted as Pelicans, either under the same or a different number.
As far as I can tell (from not only several decades, but several thousand miles away), this series was very unusual in the US market at the time. Paperbacks were generally downmarket and seen as not very serious. For a paperback publisher to be publishing not only non-fiction, but serious intellectual non-fiction (anthropology, astronomy, modern architecture, and sex) was at least surprising, if not groundbreaking.
So did it matter that it was doing so with illustrated covers (and hardly salacious ones)? And yet, for Allen Lane it seems that it did. His US business was publishing not only this kind of serious non-fiction, but in its fiction list, D.H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, John Steinbeck, Bernard Shaw, Pearl Buck and William Faulkner (the latter four all, sooner or later, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature). And still it seems, Lane felt it was straying too far from the traditions (little more than a decade old) of Penguin Books in the UK. Rather than focusing on The Odyssey or other Pelican titles, Lane saw novels by James M. Cain, James T. Farrell and Erskine Caldwell, and he saw, and disliked, the illustrated covers.
In ‘The Penguin Story’, published by Penguin in 1966 and, although written by Bill Williams, probably as close as we can get to Penguin history as Allen Lane wanted it to be seen, there is a remarkable attack on the position of Weybright and Enoch. After the split from Penguin in the UK, Lane is reputed to have never talked to Weybright again, and it seems that almost twenty years later, he still held a grudge.
Penguin’s ‘American associates’, writes Williams, without naming them, ‘wanted the mass market in terms of quarter million sales or more, for every title’. To achieve this they used distribution outlets ‘with no interest in books as such’ and that preferred ‘a commodity with garish and sensational eye-appeal’. ‘The contents of the book … were relatively unimportant: what mattered was that its lurid exterior should ambush the customers’. It seems to me difficult to sustain this charge against the range of titles published in the US Pelican series and their cover designs, or indeed against the US Penguins in the same period – but judge for yourself.
By October 1947 the split had been agreed and from early 1948 was being implemented. Penguins were re-branded as Signet Books and Pelicans as Mentor Books, both under the overall heading of the New American Library. For a brief period, Pelicans appeared as ‘Pelican Mentor Books’ and the numbering moved from P25 to M26, M27 etc. Volumes M26 to M29, published from March to June 1948, had the dual branding, and then traces of Pelican disappeared from the American market.
Most of Dickens’ novels were first issued in serial form, either as monthly parts or in some cases serialised in his journals, ‘Household Words’ or ‘All the Year Round’. ‘A tale of two cities’ combined both of these forms.
Dickens used it as the lead story when he launched ‘All the Year Round’ in April 1859, running it in 31 weekly parts from April to November 1859, and so copies of ‘All the Year Round’ represent the true first publication of the story. It was printed in huge numbers and many copies were kept, so it’s not too difficult even now to pick up copies at reasonable cost. Many surviving copies are in bound volumes, but still offer an affordable way to own a Dickens ‘first edition’.
That though is not enough of a challenge for many book collectors. Dickens followed up publication in ‘All the Year Round’ by publishing it in eight monthly parts (six single parts and a final double one) from June to December 1859 and these are much rarer. One bookseller is currently offering a full set of the parts at a mere $30,000, for what is clearly neither the first publication nor the first book edition.
The first book edition followed in November 1859 and you can buy a copy for considerably less than $30,000 although maybe in the thousands rather than the hundreds of dollars.
But over the same period, the story was also being published in English in Continental Europe. Dickens was on friendly terms with the publisher Bernhard Tauchnitz in Leipzig, and offered him the choice of taking the novel either in weekly or monthly parts. Tauchnitz chose to issue it in monthly parts and publication of the first part was announced on 30th June 1859. It’s likely that the parts appeared shortly after the UK parts, although it’s possible that the Tauchnitz part-issues were actually ahead of the equivalent parts in the UK.
The print run would have been much lower than in the UK and surviving copies of the Tauchnitz part-issues might be expected to be much rarer. It’s a meaningless question to ask how valuable such parts might be, because no copies of them have ever been publicly recorded. Until now.
Copies of the first four part-issues of ‘A tale of two cities’ have recently been discovered by a book collector in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, where they had been held in a local library and were being disposed of. Some books were being offered free to local residents, but these ones had to be rescued from a dumpster, by someone who recognised their importance before they disappeared. They are now in his personal collection – a reminder of how narrow the line is between survival and destruction.
They’re certainly not pretty. Three of the four parts have been taped around the edges, which is really not a great look. Only Part 4 is untaped and only the first four parts are present. However they offer the first conclusive proof that such part-issues exist at all. The fourth part contains at the front preliminary pages so that the four parts could be taken to a bookbinder and bound up as a single book, which would be identified as volume 479 of the Tauchnitz series.
Tauchnitz itself then published ‘A tale of two cities’ in book form and it’s not entirely clear whether there’s any way of distinguishing copies issued by Tauchnitz as a single book, from copies that might have been bound up from the parts. One thing that the part-issues do make clear though, is that copies with ten preliminary pages, including a dedication and preface, are not the first printing in book form, as suggested in the Todd & Bowden bibliography. To qualify as a first printing in book form, copies must have only 6 pages of preliminaries, with the contents on pages v and vi. Sadly that means that copies in the British Library in London, the Bodleian in Oxford, in Frankfurt, Munich and in Stockholm, can no longer be considered first printings.
The second set of four parts could be bound up as volume 480, and Tauchnitz announced publication of the entire novel in book form in these two volumes on 22nd December 1859. This was about a month after first publication of the complete novel in the UK, although it’s likely, in line with previous practice, that the first Tauchnitz volume would have been sold on its own in advance of this, possibly from September or October.
When Todd & Bowden published their bibliography of Tauchnitz Editions in 1988 they were able to locate only a single Tauchnitz part-issue of any novel, in any of the major Tauchnitz collections, including those in national, state or university libraries around the world. In total 84 different parts are believed to have been published from a total of six novels, but the only remaining example they could find was a tattered copy of one part of ‘Little Dorrit’ in the Bibliotèque Nationale in Paris.
Since then copies of individual parts of ‘Bleak House’ and ‘Our mutual friend’ have come to light, followed by the discovery of a full set of 20 parts of ‘Bleak House’, although the location of these is now unknown. The discovery now of part-issues of ‘A tale of two cities’ means that parts are known of, for four of the five Dickens novels published in this way. No parts of ‘Edwin Drood’ are yet known, nor any of the one non-Dickens novel to be issued in parts by Tauchnitz – ‘A strange story’ by Bulwer Lytton.
A strange title for a blog post and a strange wording to find on the front board of a book. It turns up on various Albatross books produced in the period around 1950 when the business was casting around, looking for a way to succeed in the very different publishing conditions after the war.
Albatross had been hugely successful before the war, publishing English language paperbacks in Continental Europe, defeating and effectively taking over, the long established Tauchnitz business. But attempts to revive the brand after the war faltered in the face of difficult market conditions and strong competition from British and American paperbacks, including of course Penguin Books.
In 1948 the business seems to have tried a different approach, having a range of titles bound up in a creamy coloured card binding, almost a sort of false vellum, and probably using existing unsold paperback stock. These were then given a standard Albatross dustwrapper , which in the post-war period showed the name of the local sales partner company, varying by country. All of the copies in this style that I have seen, have a dustwrapper from either Norway, Sweden or Denmark although they may have been sold elsewhere as well.
The front and back boards have an intricate blind stamped frame with on the front the title in the middle, the date 1948 in Roman numerals at the top, and the Latin phrase ‘Io Diomedeæ et Amicorum’ at the bottom. It’s not immediately clear what this means and a quick Internet search brings up a description of a similar book and the suggestion that the phrase translates as ‘I like pie’.
That seems hardly likely, and a more promising search result shows a similar phrase ‘Io Grolierii et Amicorum’, used by Jean Grolier de Servières, a famous bibliophile from the sixteenth century. He had his books bound in a range of fine bindings with this phrase as an inscription on the front board. It translates as ‘ For the use of Jean Grolier and his friends’.
So the Albatross binding it seems is some kind of reference or tribute to Jean Grolier. That’s confirmed by the Wikipedia entry on Grolier, which shows illustrations of some of his books, including strapwork designs very similar to the Albatross cover design. That leaves little doubt that this is a ‘Grolier binding’, albeit very much a poor man’s version of it.
But who might have produced such a binding and why? And if Diomedeæ refers to a person, who is it? In the Greek legends, Diomedes was a warrior in the Trojan War and one of the main characters in the Iliad.
The answer though is far simpler. Albatrosses are seabirds in the family Diomedeidae. The Latin name for the Wandering Albatross is Diomedea Exulans. So ‘Io Diomedeæ et Amicorum’ means ‘For the use of The Albatross and his friends’.
It’s unclear how successful or how widely used this binding was, but Albatross was certainly struggling as a business at this time. Over the next few years it tried various different things in order to survive, including other types of hard binding. In 1951 though it came back to Grolier for a rather more luxurious binding. The copy that I have is on Albatross volume 583 – ‘London belongs to me’ by Norman Collins, but it seems to have been used for other volumes as well, including volume 600.
This time the boards have a rather different strapwork design in colour, but still clearly in the Grolier style, with that same phrase at the bottom and with a central arabesque that refers back to the same source (see the image of a Grolier design above). The book has a glassine jacket, printed on the flaps, and an elaborate design of spine, with more arabesques, the albatross symbol and at the base, the name ‘Torriani’.
The Legatoria Torriani was one the largest Italian bookbinders for most of the twentieth century, based in Milan up until 1960. By 1950 the Albatross company was based in Rome and this book was printed in Verona, so Torriani would have been a natural choice of binder. The owners may well have had an interest in the history of bookbinding and Grolier had spent several years in Milan as an aide to the French Court. While there he had met Aldus Manutius, the founder of the Aldine Press and he had used local bookbinders for many of the books in his library.
Whether the suggestion to use Grolier as the inspiration for a series of Albatross bindings came in the first place from Torriani or from Albatross or from elsewhere, we may never know. But the resulting books now provide rather a nice memorial to both Grolier and Albatross.
My last post looked at the incestuous web of relationships between Tauchnitz authors, concentrating first on parents and children, husbands and wives. But there were many other close relationships.
Perhaps the most famous example of siblings as authors was the Brontë sisters and all three were published Tauchnitz authors, although two of them only posthumously. ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë and ‘Agnes Grey’ by Anne Brontë were published in a combined edition of two volumes in 1851, together with a biographical note by Charlotte, her sisters having died in 1848 / 1849. Four of Charlotte’s own novels appeared in the series.
So far as I know this is the only example of three sisters as Tauchnitz authors, but there were at least three other pairs of sisters who achieved that honour. The two Scottish sisters, Dorothea Gerard and Emily Gerard are reasonably easy to identify, as both wrote under their maiden names. They would have been more camouflaged under their married names as Dorothea Longard de Longgarde and Emily de Laszowska – both sisters married officers in the Austro-Hungarian army.
Irish sisters Agnes and Mary Sweetman are less easy to recognise. Agnes wrote a series of novels with her husband as Agnes and Egerton Castle, while her sister had a single novel published by Tauchnitz, writing as M.E. Francis. It’s not obvious either that Amy Lothrop and Elizabeth Wetherell are sisters, although there are perhaps clues in their jointly authored novel ‘Say and Seal’ (vols. 498/9). On the title page they are described only as the author of ‘Wide, wide world’ and the author of ‘Dollars and cents’. But the preface is signed by both using their pseudonyms, which they admit are their ancestors’ names rather than their own, and describe as a pair of gloves worn to shake hands with the public. Their real names were in fact Anna Warner and Susan Warner. Susan, writing as Elizabeth Wetherell, had four other books published by Tauchnitz as well.
Brothers are less of a problem to identify and examples include Edward and Henry Bulwer Lytton, Wilkie Collins and Charles Allston Collins, Charles and Henry Kingsley, E.F. Benson and Robert Hugh Benson. Brother / sister combinations include Marie Corelli and her half-brother Eric Mackay, and Hilaire Belloc and his sister Marie Belloc-Lowndes.
There are quite a few uncles and aunts. Sheridan Le Fanu, for instance, author of two Tauchnitz novels, was the uncle of Rhoda Broughton, who had a much longer list. John Addington Symonds was the uncle of ‘George Paston’, the pen name for Emily Morse Symonds, and Mary Cholmondeley was the aunt of Stella Benson. George Otto Trevelyan was not only the nephew of Lord Macaulay, but also edited ‘The life and letters’ of his uncle. Both men were historians, MPs and Government ministers.
The most complicated example of uncles and aunts comes from the remarkable Arnold family and spans three generations. In one sense it starts with another even earlier generation, as Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby School, was not a Tauchnitz author, but a Tauchnitz character, featuring in ‘Tom Brown’s schooldays’ written by Thomas Hughes. His son, the poet Matthew Arnold, went on to have two books of essays published by Tauchnitz, and was the uncle of Mary Augusta Ward, writing as Mrs. Humphry Ward, who had many more to her name. She in turn was the aunt of Aldous Huxley, who contributed several more volumes to the family library of Tauchnitz Editions.
On then to grandchildren, of whom I can find three examples. Daphne du Maurier was the granddaughter of George du Maurier, Caroline Norton was the granddaughter of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Christabel Coleridge was the granddaughter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Christabel was also more distantly related to Mary E. Coleridge, who was the great-grandniece of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as to Charlotte Yonge. Yonge started an essay society for young women, called the Goslings, of which Christabel and other members of the Coleridge family were part, and which also included Mary Augusta Ward (see above).
We’re starting to get into more distant relationships now, which brings us on to Margaret Oliphant and Laurence Oliphant. They certainly both came from the same family of Scottish landed gentry, and are often described as cousins, but I think that may be distant cousins rather than first cousins. Margaret’s mother was an Oliphant and she was given Oliphant as a middle name, but then went on to marry her cousin and acquired Oliphant as a surname as well. With a naturally heightened sense of family history she then wrote a long memoir of the life of Laurence Oliphant and his wife, Alice Oliphant, also published by Tauchnitz.
In a similar category is Rose Macaulay, who was from the same family, the Macaulays of Lewis as Lord Macaulay, mentioned above, although the relationship was quite distant. And then there is Dinah Craik and the other Craiks. Dinah, the most prolific Craik author, acquired the name by marrying a nephew of George Lillie Craik, who became a Tauchnitz author only after his death. His ‘Manual of English Literature and of the history of the English Language’ was published by Tauchnitz in 1874, by which time both Dinah and his daughter Georgiana Craik were established Tauchnitz authors.
Other more distantly related Tauchnitz authors include Washington Irving and his grand-niece Julia Cruger (writing as Julien Gordon), Lloyd Osbourne, who was the stepson of Robert Louis Stevenson and E.W. Hornung and Arthur Conan Doyle, who were brothers-in-law. E.OE Somerville and Violet Martin (as Martin Ross) jointly authored several novels and were second cousins. They were also more distantly related to Maria Edgeworth, who had a single volume published in the Tauchnitz ‘Series for the Young’. Mortimer Collins, author of two novels published by Tauchnitz in the 1870s, was the step-father of the wife of Tighe Hopkins, who followed him as a Tauchnitz author some twenty-five years later.
I am sure there are other relationships that I’ve missed and in the end it almost feels that it would have been easier to list the Tauchnitz authors who weren’t related to any other authors. But there’s still one relationship that I feel should have been there, but wasn’t. F. Frankfort Moore, an Irish writer with more than twenty Tauchnitz novels to his name, was the brother-in-law of Bram Stoker. The two men were married to Alice and Florence Balcombe, two of six sisters from Dublin. Sadly none of Bram Stoker’s works, most famously ‘Dracula’, were included in the Tauchnitz series. And in another intriguing ‘might have been’ relationship, one of Florence Balcombe’s former suitors had been Oscar Wilde, of course a Tauchnitz author.
The story of the relationships between Tauchnitz and Hitler’s Third Reich is a fascinating one, covered in some detail in Michele Troy’s 2017 book ‘Strange Bird. The Albatross Press and the Third Reich’. The rise to power of the Nazi party in Germany largely coincided with the collapse of Tauchnitz into the arms of its much more modern rival, Albatross. From 1934 until the outbreak of war, the two firms were run together under conditions that were extraordinarily challenging.
For almost a century, Tauchnitz had successfully spread both the English language and Anglo-American culture across Europe. Under Albatross control, and even with a Nazi Government in Germany that was publicly hostile to much of the literature that Tauchnitz and Albatross were publishing, they continued to do so. Michele Troy’s book shows how the Government’s need for foreign currency earnings often trumped ideological concerns.
Books by Jewish authors such as Louis Golding and G.B. Stern and by banned writers like D.H. Lawrence and Aldous Huxley, were printed in Leipzig and exported across Europe throughout the 1930s. Editorial control of the combined business was based in Paris and the more controversial books appeared in the Albatross series rather than Tauchnitz, but production of both series was carried out in Germany by the Tauchnitz owners, Brandstetter. Yes, there was an element of self-censorship and certain books could not be sold within Germany itself, but still it is surprising what they managed to achieve.
Astonishingly, even after the outbreak of war in 1939, both Albatross and Tauchnitz were able to continue selling English Literature in continental Europe, although the flow of new titles inevitably dried up. Even after the entry of German troops into Paris in June 1940, and the appointment of a Nazi custodian of the Albatross business, sales continued and the business continued to make a profit.
But the Nazis also had another purpose in mind for Tauchnitz. What it had previously done for English, they reasoned, it could now do for the German language and culture.
The result was a series of German language novels under the heading of ‘Der Deutsche Tauchnitz’. Instead of the usual notice saying that copies were ‘ not to be introduced into the British Empire’, these books now say ‘Nur zum Verkauf ausserhalb des Grossdeutschen Reiches’, or ‘only for sale outside the Greater German Empire’. They were not sold in Germany or the areas annexed into Greater Germany, including Austria, the Sudetenland and Alsace / Lorraine. But they were for sale in Belgium, Holland, France and other areas where the Nazis wanted to spread a Germanic culture.
In this context it’s worth remembering that the Tauchnitz editions in English were not launched by the British, or even by a Briton, in order to spread British culture. They were launched by a German to meet an existing market demand. Tauchnitz Editions in German though were very definitely launched by the Germans to spread German culture. Der Deutsche Tauchnitz was not a product launched to meet market demand. It was a product seeking a market.
That was not easy in wartime Europe. If there had been a natural market for German novels in France or the Netherlands, Tauchnitz might have been amongst the first to launch one, much earlier. The market for English language novels in peacetime had depended on British and American travellers in Europe, as well as on the significant number of speakers of English as a second language. But in wartime there was no demand from tourists and the number of people with German as a second language good enough to read novels, was probably lower than for English. So even without taking into account the natural resentment that many people would have had towards the occupiers, it’s apparent that the task would not have been easy.
The one natural market they did have was amongst the occupiers themselves. German soldiers in the occupied territories may have bought a relatively high proportion of the books that were sold. Certainly by one route or another, many of the copies found today are back in Germany. But that was not the point of these books. It was the local populations that were their target.
Physically the books look very like the pre-war Tauchnitz volumes in English. They have the same brightly coloured covers, colour-coded by genre, and they use the same circular symbol with a small crown over a ‘T’ that had been introduced shortly before the war. For the early editions there are dustwrappers in the same design as the book and the dustwrapper flaps have a short description of the book in English, German and French at the front and an explanation of the colour scheme at the back. Later on, these descriptions move to the inside of the covers, and the explanation of the colour scheme is dropped in favour of additional languages.
One small design change is to abandon the uniformity of style for the book titles on the front cover. Instead there is a profusion of different styles of lettering, giving each title some individuality within the constraints of an otherwise standard series design.
There is no price on the books themselves, or on the lists of titles inside, but the price quoted in ‘A strange bird’ is the equivalent of 1.2 Deutschmarks, which compares with a price of 2 DM for the pre-war Tauchnitz Editions in English. Start-up costs had been covered by the German Propaganda Ministry and Foreign Office, so that the books may have been sold more or less on a marginal cost basis. They may also have had quite long print runs to keep costs low, but with disappointing sales that led to a build-up of unsold stocks.
The series launched in April 1941 and had extended to 18 titles by the end of the year. Volume number 1 was ‘Effi Briest’ by Theodor Fontane, a classic German novel from a 19th century author, although not really typical of the rest of the series. Most of the books were by more modern authors and probably rather lighter, although there were a few other classics including Goethe’s ‘Faust’ and Wilhelm Hauff’s fairy tales. There are no dominant authors – in fact other than Goethe with two, no author seems to have more than one title published in the series. Readers were invited though to nominate their own suggestions for the series, using cards inserted in some of the books.
21 titles appeared in 1942, taking the series on to volume 139, although after volume 130 the dustwrappers were dropped, as they had been on paperbacks in Britain a year or two earlier. Wartime conditions were perhaps starting to bite and the quality of paper used began to deteriorate, although these are still relatively lavishly produced books in comparison with British paperbacks from the same era. Another twenty or so new titles were added in 1943 so that by early 1944 the series had reached volume 166.
Volume 164 was advertised in the list of titles as ‘Petja’ by Marissa von der Osten, although I have never seen a copy and I suspect it was never published. From here on, and not surprisingly given the progress of the war, things start to go rather downhill. I have seen no evidence of books numbered 167, 168, 169, 171 or 173 and I have been unable to find a copy of volume 174, which is advertised as Adalbert Stifter’s ‘Erzählungen’. Again it may well have never been published.
That leaves volumes 170, 172, 175 and 176 which certainly do exist, for a total of 69 confirmed volumes over a three year period from 1941 to 1944. On some of the later volumes though, I have seen examples where the phrase forbidding sales within the German Reich has been blacked out, presumably because access to other markets had been lost and copies had been repatriated to Germany towards the end, or after the end of the war.
Overall it seems unlikely that the series was a success in terms of its objective to spread German culture. It was not the only attempt though. Alongside the German language series, Tauchnitz also launched a series of French translations of German novels, including some of the same titles. I’ll come back to that another time.