Shakespeare plays in Tauchnitz – the 1868 edition

I looked in an earlier post at the first 1843 edition of Shakespeare plays in the Tauchnitz Edition.   Although sold in large quantities over a period of 25 years, the publication was rather discredited by being based on the text of John Payne Collier, a noted Shakespeare scholar, but one who was later shown to be a forger.  Collier’s name was dropped from the title page in later printings, and the decision was eventually taken to re-issue all the plays in an alternative text edited by the Rev. Alexander Dyce.

Tauchnitz Shakespeare 1868 frontispiece vol. 40

Frontispiece to the first volume of the 1868 Edition

In correspondence with Tauchnitz, Dyce was insistent that ‘no alterations are to be introduced, which are not authorised by, Dear Sir, your very truly, Alexander Dyce’.  Perhaps not surprising in the circumstances.  He also noted that ‘I should prefer my name to appear on the title-page of the proposed Shakespeare’.

Dyce had been a friend of Collier’s, but had turned against him, notably with his publication of ‘Strictures on Collier’s new Edition of Shakespeare’ in 1859.  His own edition of the plays had first been published in 1857, with a Second Edition in 1866 and this was to be the basis of the new Tauchnitz Edition of 1868.   In his preface to the Tauchnitz Edition Dyce refers to his First Edition having ‘too timidly adhered to sundry more than questionable readings of the early copies’, which may well be a reference to Collier’s influence.

Tauchnitz Shakespeare 1868 preface vol. 40

The Tauchnitz volumes with the new text appeared in 1868 as volume 40 to 46 of the Collection of British Authors, using the same series numbers as the original issues, but with the 1868 date on the title page of each volume.  Although this seems entirely sensible, it was actually very unusual for Tauchnitz ever to change the date on the title page.  Usually the original first edition date remained on the title page of all later printings, even many decades later.   Here the 1868 date distinguishes the new edition, but in line with the usual practice, later reprints of this edition then retained 1868 on the title page, even well into the 1930s.

In the original paperback, the volumes initially said ‘Second Edition’ clearly on the front wrapper, which presumably meant the Second Tauchnitz Edition.  On the title page though they refer only to ‘the Rev. Alexander Dyce’s Second Edition’, which is a rather different thing.  Dyce also wanted to make clear that the dedication to John Forster was  the dedication of his second edition rather than just the Tauchnitz Edition, so had it dated 1866 rather than 1868, and inserted a note at the top saying ‘Dedication to the Second Edition’.  This serves only to confuse, as it could equally well refer to the second Tauchnitz Edition.

  Tauchnitz Shakespeare 1868 front wrapper vol. 40  Tauchnitz Shakespeare 1868 title page vol. 40

As with the 1843 edition, the books appeared not only as seven volumes in the main Tauchnitz series, at half a Thaler per volume, but also as individual plays, numbered from 1 to 37, selling for 1/10th of a Thaler each.  Unlike the 1843 edition though, there is no dual numbering of pages.   The individual plays all have their own page numbering, suggesting that they may have had their own stereotype plates.  It would presumably have been a relatively small task to change the page numbering after taking a first mould from the original page of type, and then take a second mould.  Each mould would be used to create a stereotype plate that would then be stored for use on reprints.

And there were many, many reprints.  Shakespeare plays were a steady seller for Tauchnitz for almost a century in total, and distinguishing the date of reprints is a puzzle of enormous complexity.  With bound copies it can be almost impossible, although a first clue is that earlier printings have the series number on the half-title in roman numerals, later printings in standard arabic numerals.

With paperbacks it’s a bit easier, and for the individual plays it is often the paperbacks that survive, as few of them were individually bound. They’re distinguished most easily by the price shown on the wrapper – 1/10 Thlr. for the first printing, then M. 0,30 from around 1871, modified to M 0,30 from 1892, increased to M 0,40 from 1916 and so on.  Full details in the Todd & Bowden bibliography.  In my experience the earliest paperbacks, showing the price as 1/10 of a Thaler are difficult to find now, but copies from the 1870s / 1880s are much more common.

Wrapper price example

  Shakespeare F6 Merchant of Venice 1868 first printing  Shakespeare F6 Merchant of Venice 1868 reprint wb

Around the time of the First World War, a new format for the individual plays was adopted, slightly smaller and more like the volumes of the Tauchnitz Pocket Library sold in wartime.   Variants of this format (still with Dyce’s name on the title page) continued to be sold right through until the Second World War put an effective end to Tauchnitz.

Shakespeare F10 Twefth Night 1930s reprint

A reprint of one of the individual plays, from the 1930s

Rather sadly, Alexander Dyce never saw the longevity achieved by the edition that he gave his name to.  He died in May 1869, shortly after the first publication.  His displaced rival, John Payne Collier, surviving to 1883, could only watch and grit his teeth.

Boxing clever – the first 6 Albatross books

The launch of Albatross books in 1932 was a key moment in the paperback revolution, even if not fully recognised as such at the time.  It signalled the imminent demise of Tauchnitz, which had dominated English language publishing in Continental Europe for almost a century.  It was to be the inspiration for the launch of Penguin Books three years later.  And it was in some respects the moment that paperbacks came of age in the twentieth century.

A lot of planning and preparation had gone into the launch, which brought together three remarkable men, John Holroyd-Reece, Max Christian Wegner and Kurt Enoch.  Their stories are too long and varied to cover here, but all three played important roles in publishing history, even apart from their time at Albatross.   It was important for them that the first list of Albatross titles made a statement about the ambitions of the new series.

Albatross First six anouncement

It was a mixed list, establishing the principle that the series would cover a range of genres and styles.  A crime story and a romance rubbed shoulders with more literary fiction.   A volume of short stories was published alongside the first volume of an historical family saga.   There was something for everyone, and importantly, with colour coding by genre, the mix of types of book was reflected in a mix of colours for the first six books.

The choice of the first three authors – James Joyce, Aldous Huxley and Sinclair Lewis, seemed to say that the series would be more at the cutting edge of modern literature than Tauchnitz had been in recent years.   It also said something about the ability of Albatross to attract authors away from Tauchnitz.

James Joyce in particular had been neglected by Tauchnitz.  They had eventually published ‘A portrait of the artist as a young man’ in 1930, some ten years after being offered it, but had shown little interest in his other works.  So for Albatross, publishing ‘Dubliners’ as volume 1 was an open goal.

Huxley and Lewis had been treated better, with Tauchnitz publishing six volumes of Huxley and three from Lewis, arguably including their most important works.  But that was far from comprehensive coverage and as with Joyce, Albatross was able to target earlier works, overlooked by Tauchnitz, before later publishing new works.  Sinclair Lewis had in 1930 become the first American author to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, so it was a good time to be revisiting his earlier works.

The next three titles were perhaps a bit lighter, but Rogue Herries by Hugh Walpole was a significant prize.  It was the first of the Herries Chronicles, a trilogy of books set in the Lake District, and probably the work for which Walpole is best remembered now.  He too had to be attracted away from Tauchnitz, which had published several of his earlier works, as did Warwick Deeping.   As Tauchnitz had had a near monopoly on publishing English literature in Europe, it was almost inevitable that the authors Albatross wanted to publish would already have had dealings with Tauchnitz.

The launch of the first six titles was also marked by the issue of a boxed set of the six books.  I have little idea how many of these were produced or sold, or indeed the price at which it was offered.  I have only ever seen the one example, illustrated below, and that is in less than perfect condition.  Although the box has no Albatross branding, I am pretty sure that it was produced for Albatross, rather than just being a home-made affair.  It’s possible though that it was produced only for presentation copies, offered to business contacts and colleagues.

Box Set First Six 2

Just one of the books in this box still has its transparent dustwrapper, and that is in poor condition, but all the books would originally have had them.   They were easily damaged and after a year or so, new titles were instead given paper dustwrappers in the same design as the books.

Printers’ Pie – the Hutchinson years

‘Printers’ Pie’ had started in the early years of the twentieth century as a way to raise funds for a Printers’ charity.   It continued until at least 1918, sometimes twice a year, with Christmas issues called ‘Winter’s Pie’, but stopped publication soon after.   There may have been one or two publications in the 1920s called the ‘Sketchbook and Printers’ Pie’, but information is scarce.

1916 Printers Pie not my copy

An issue from 1916 – cover illustration by George Studdy

In 1935 it was revived (see this earlier blog post) to raise money for the King George’s Jubilee Trust and then for other charities, now using the titles ‘Christmas Pie’ and ‘Summer Pie’.  So far as I can tell the final issue in this series, published by Odhams, was in 1939.

Summer-Pie-1936

Summer Pie for 1936 with a Bruce Bairnsfather cover

But then after a gap of three or four years, it appeared again in 1943 under the original title, this time published by Hutchinson.   The publication marked Walter Hutchinson becoming Festival President of the Printers’ Pension, Almshouse and Orphan Asylum Corporation, the original charity for which ‘Printers’ Pie’ had been created, and was to raise funds for them.

It was now in a small paperback format, and selling for the relatively high price of 2s 6d.  Pre-war issues had sold for 6d and in 1943 most paperbacks were selling for around 9d.  But as well as being for charity, this was on unusually good quality paper for a wartime publication, featured a colour cover and several pages of glossy photographs in two sections.  There were stories by H.E. Bates, Howard Spring, L.A.G. Strong and James Hilton among others.

It was followed by ‘Christmas Pie’ at the end of 1943 in a similar format, again selling for 2s 6d.  This time there was an appeal for donations to the same Printers’ charity, but no direct mention that the proceeds or profits from the publication would go to the charity.  Most issues from then onwards contained no mention of being for charity, but on the other hand the price came down to 1s 6d.  The exceptions were the Spring Pies for 1945 and 1946, with the price raised to 2 shillings and profits going first to the Bookbinders’ Cottage Homes and Pensions Society, and then to Toc H.

The format instead seemed just to be adopted by Hutchinson as part of their series of Hutchinson Pocket Specials.  From Autumn 1944, there were more or less regular issues five times a year, titled as Spring Pie, Summer Pie, Autumn Pie, Winter Pie and Christmas Pie, published roughly in March, June, September, November and December.

Each issue had a colour portrait of a girl on the cover and inside a mix of articles, short stories, cartoons and photographs. mostly in a light-hearted tone.  The style feels very similar to ‘Lilliput’, then a popular monthly magazine.

In April 1946 there was an extra issue called Pie’s Film Book, with Vivien Leigh on the cover as Cleopatra, from one of the big films of the year.  It was printed entirely on glossy paper, lavishly illustrated with black and white photos of film stars, and selling at two shillings.  Pie’s Film Book No. 2 appeared the following year in similar format, with Margaret Lockwood on the cover, but that seems to have been the end of this venture.

There were other attempts to modernise the format.  Colour appeared internally for the first time in the Christmas 1947 issue, with  four reproductions of Dutch paintings and in 1948 many of the black and white photographs were replaced by colour illustrations of various kinds.  But perhaps it was still not modern enough for the post-war world.   The Summer and Christmas issues of 1948 experimented with some discreet nudity, but it was too late or too desperate.

So far as I know, the 1948 Christmas issue was the last until it reappeared in a slightly larger format and at the reduced price of one shilling in December 1949 as ‘Winter Pie’. The editor is now shown as Barbara Vise and the cover illustration is by (presumably related) Jenetta Vise.  Inside there’s no longer any colour, but the layout looks less cramped.  The content though is less than riveting, featuring articles such as ‘Why I like going to the cinema’ by the Bishop of London, alongside articles on suits of armour and portrait miniatures.

It was followed by ‘Spring Pie’ in April 1950 in a similar format, although this time with a centrefold featuring colour photographs of pottery and porcelain.  But then this too seems to have died.

After that, Hutchinson seem to have given up any ambitions to continue the series.  Both the ‘Pie’ title and the aim of raising money for good causes seem to have passed back to Odhams, the publisher of the pre-war issues.  They published at least one more issue in 1952 in the larger pre-war format, as ‘Summer Pie, in aid of the National Advertising Benevolent Society.  That may well have been the last of the Pies.

1952 1 Summer Pie 1952

 

Bound for the Services – from Harrap

Almost all Services Editions are paperbacks, mostly very thin, cheap paperbacks on poor quality wartime paper.  Apart from the need to reduce costs in wartime, there was also the practical matter of fitting into a battledress pocket.

So what are we to make of the Harrap Services Editions, a hardback series issued towards the end of the war?  These are not only hardbacks, but some of them very substantial books, certainly not pocket size.

Hardback Harrap Wild-Cat Branning

Of course there were hardback books in Service libraries throughout the war.  Many of the early books were donated by the public and came in all shapes and sizes, as well as being on all manner of topics, many of them of little interest to their intended readers.   On the other hand it was precisely because many of the donated books were unsuitable, that the new series of paperback Services Editions were launched in 1943.

Those paperbacks were a huge success and were so widely read and passed around that many of them simply disintegrated, one of the factors making them so scarce today.  Some units developed their own solutions, providing homemade hard bindings to make them last a little longer.  But perhaps as the war moved towards an end in 1945, it became clear that there was a need for something more durable.

Did the armed forces commission a series of hardbacks from Harrap, or was it an initiative from the publisher?   By 1945 the dominance of the two long series of paperback Services Editions, from Collins and from Guild Books, was coming to an end.  Several other publishers were starting to produce Services Editions, presumably under some sort of contract with the Services that at least enabled them to access the necessary paper ration.  But I suspect individual publishers still had a fair amount of discretion over exactly what they published as Services Editions.

Hardback Harrap 5 books

In the case of Harrap, all they seem to have done is take some of the books that they were publishing anyway and stamp Services Edition on the front cover.   There is nothing in the printing history that suggests a specific printing for the services.  The only evidence that they are Services Editions at all is that stamp on the front board.  Nor is there any evidence that they were a series in the normal sense.  They come in all shapes and sizes and all types of book.  The five examples I have come across include two spy novels by Helen MacInnes, an oilfield novel by Robert Sturgis, the semi-fictionalised account of life in Thailand that later formed the basis for the musical ‘The King and I’, and a biography of General Allenby, a miltary leader.  Are there many others?

Four of these five books were printed in 1945, and the fifth in 1946.  Judging by the scarcity of the books today, the numbers printed (or the numbers of those printed that were stamped “Services Edition”) must have been small.  Almost all Services Editions are now difficult to find, even those paperbacks printed in editions of 50,000 copies.  But while it’s relatively easy to make 50,000 poor quality paperbacks disappear, that seems more difficult with hardbacks.  If even 5,000 copies of each book were printed, you might expect several hundred to have survived.  But if they have, I don’t know where they are.

Two of the copies I have show clear evidence of Services use.  One other has the half-title torn out, often seen with Services Editions, presumably to remove evidence of Services ownership.  So unlike some later Services Editions, they do at least seem to have reached their intended market.

    Hospital Ship Maine - Harrap Anna and the King

I’d love to hear from anyone who knows anything more about these unusual and rather surprising books.

Albatross and the Third Reich. A Strange Bird, but a wonderful book.

‘Strange Bird’ is a wonderful new book by Michele Troy, subtitled ‘The Albatross Press and the Third Reich’.  It vividly recounts the difficulties of a business publishing modernist British and American literature in 1930s Germany under the Nazis, and the lives of the key people involved as they cope with the sometimes brutal consequences.

Strange Bird

Michele Troy is Professor of English at Hillyer College at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.  On one level her book is a meticulously researched academic study, where every assertion is backed by detailed research referenced in copious footnotes.   But on another level it’s more like a novel, following the lives of a whole cast of characters, but particularly the three main founders of Albatross – John Holroyd-Reece, Max Christian Wegner and Kurt Enoch.

Kurt Enoch (right) with novelist Erskine Caldwell, in the US after the war

The book is beautifully written, again more like a novel in places, but the story the author has uncovered is almost too implausible for the plot of a novel.  There are twists and turns as the business has to adapt to Nazi control and suspicion, and the team is then split apart by restrictions on Jewish ownership of property in Germany.   I won’t include too many spoilers, but the story reaches a climax with the German occupation of Paris in 1940.  The contrasts in the experiences of the main participants at that point are almost heartbreaking, but there is far more to come.  Triumph turns to disaster and disaster turns to recovery in very personal terms as well as in political, military and business terms.

Max Christian Wegner

Max Christian Wegner, after the war

Holroyd-Reece, Wegner and Enoch all had very successful publishing careers separately from Albatross, both before and after the war, and they worked together for only a few years.  I’ve long believed that in that short period they were able to create something really special, and that the Albatross series was a remarkable achievement in both literary and business terms.  But I had little idea before picking up this book of quite how remarkable it really was.  It needs the context of time and place, of everything that was going on in 1930s Germany, followed by the war and the post-war chaos, to understand the extent of their achievement.  ‘Strange Bird’ brings together the context and the achievement and ties it together with the intertwining personal life stories of three remarkable men.

Holroyd Reece Christmas Card 8 and 9

John Holroyd Reece in his Paris office, drawn by Gunter Böhmer for a 1938 Christmas Card

All three died many years ago, but as well as researching many archives, Michele Troy has tracked down relatives and uncovered personal reminiscences that transform the book from a dusty academic work to a spellbinding thriller.  Above all it’s the stories of the people that you come away with from this book.  They’re engaging stories and engaging people, for the most part sympathetically drawn characters, despite all their faults.

The book is part history, part biography, part novel, part academic treatise, part detective story, part bibliographical research, but above all it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read.   I hope many more people will read it.

Aldous Huxley in Tauchnitz and Albatross – Part 2

For Part 1, follow this link.

In 1934 Tauchnitz was on the point of collapse.   Its brash new rival, Albatross, had succeeded far beyond its expectations and had stripped Tauchnitz of its sales, its authors and its prestige.   Tauchnitz was ready to admit defeat and to agree to being bought by Albatross, but one thing stood in the way.  The National Socialists, the Nazis,  had just come to power in Germany, and Albatross was a company with multiple Jewish connections.    In the political climate of the time, such a transaction was impossible.

Instead a complicated arrangement was put in place where Tauchnitz was bought by Brandstetter, the German printing firm that printed Albatross books.  Brandstetter passed editorial control to Albatross, but kept the printing work for itself.   From 1934, editorial control of both series was handled from Paris by Albatross.

Aldous Huxley smoking, circa 1946

Aldous Huxley

With Huxley and various other writers though, they had a problem.  Their books were being burned by the Nazis and were appearing on various lists of banned books.   Albatross / Tauchnitz had to tread carefully along a narrow line if they were to survive at all in Germany.   They had to exercise some self-censorship not only in terms of what they published, but how they published it and where they sold it.  The story is told in some detail and in very entertaining form in Michele Troy’s new book ‘Strange Bird.  The Albatross Press and the Third Reich’.

Strange Bird

On the face of it, it made little difference whether books were published by Albatross or by Tauchnitz.  Editorial control of both series was from the same office in Paris, the books of both series were printed at the same printer in Leipzig, and they were distributed by the same distributor in Hamburg.  But the evidence of the books suggests a different story.  Tauchnitz after all was a German firm, with a higher proportion of its sales in Germany, and had to be extremely careful about publishing writers that were not approved of by the German government.  Albatross, although coming under considerable German control, seemed to be allowed a little more freedom.   Its books, printed in Germany, but sold across Europe, earned valuable foreign currency for Germany and the Nazis were prepared to be a bit more tolerant.

But it seems clear that Huxley was no longer to be tolerated as a Tauchnitz author.   He had moved to Albatross anyway for new publications, but even works for which Tauchnitz already had the rights were not reprinted.   The Tauchnitz bibliography records reprint dates for the six Huxley volumes in Tauchnitz editions.  Each was reprinted several times, but none of them after the end of 1934.   A similar pattern exists for D.H. Lawrence and other writers not approved of by the Nazis.

Instead Huxley’s books were transferred across to the Albatross series.  The two volumes of short stories, ‘Two or three graces’ and ‘Brief candles’ were reprinted in 1935 as Albatross volumes 246 and 247, followed shortly afterwards by ‘Music at night and other essays’ as volume 260.  ‘Point Counter Point’ appeared in April 1937 as volumes 331 and 332.

Two volume, or even three volume novels had been a long tradition for Tauchnitz, although gradually dropping out of favour by the 1930s.  For Albatross, they were almost unheard of.  Longer novels appeared, not in two volumes, but in a larger ‘extra volume’ sold at a higher price.  Presumably they could have done that with ‘Point Counter Point’, but, perhaps for contractual reasons, they chose to retain the Tauchnitz two volume format.  Unlike Tauchnitz though, they offered the two volumes for sale together in a slipcase.

Point counter point with slipcase

This transfer of Huxley’s books across to Albatross was probably made necessary by implicit censorship, but it made some sense anyway for editorial reasons.  Albatross had been the more modern, edgier series, and Tauchnitz the more traditional, conservative one, even before the takeover.   With new books still being added to both series, there had to be some basis for deciding which books appeared in which series and Huxley fitted better into Albatross.  The opportunity to develop a ‘collected edition’ of Huxley’s works in Albatross may have been too good to miss.

Huxley Collected Edition ad

On the other hand, shifting books from one series to the other could also have a financial impact.  The two firms had different ownership structures, so profits from the books could end up in a different place.  The Tauchnitz bibliographers, Todd & Bowden, accused the Albatross managers, particularly John Holroyd-Reece, of systematically transferring profits away from Tauchnitz, to the detriment of the new owners, Brandstetter.

This is probably unfair, and seems to take no account of the difficult circumstances in Germany at the time.  Whether the various dealings were fair to Brandstetter or not, depends upon the basis on which they went into the arrangement, what the ongoing financial arrangements were, and also on what was politically possible in 1930s Germany.   They did after all buy Tauchnitz at a time when, without the support of Albatross, it had little future or value at all.  It is likely that Brandstetter’s financial interest came more from printing the books of both firms than from the profits of publishing.  But the details of the arrangements were to be of vital importance later when war came to separate the firms.

Albatross 269 Beyond the Mexique Bay

There was still the question of  whether any further new works of Huxley’s could be published.  ‘Beyond the Mexique Bay’, appeared in Britain in 1934, nominally a record of Huxley’s travels in Mexico and Central America, but also including long sections that were critical of fascism and offensive to the German government.   It could not appear in translation in Germany but it might be more tolerated in English.  It did appear in 1935, as Albatross volume 269, but only after considerable self-censorship by the Albatross editors – “die Schere im Kopf”, or the scissors in your own head, as described by Michele Troy’s book.  Even then it’s an open question as to how openly it could be sold in Germany as opposed to other European countries.

It was followed by ‘The olive tree and other essays’ in August 1937 (volume 336) and then by ‘Eyeless in Gaza’ in January 1938 as volume 358.  Finally in July 1939, only a few weeks before the outbreak of war, came ‘Along the Road’, another collection of essays, originally published in Britain as early as 1925, so another example of catching up with Huxley’s earlier works.

In total then, 14 Huxley volumes in Albatross, five of them transferred across from Tauchnitz (and one more that never transferred), covering almost all his pre-war novels and short stories, as well as a representative selection of his essays and travel writing.   In the end only D.H. Lawrence accounted for more volumes in the series, although Agatha Christie was level on fourteen.  For a series that was printed in Germany in the 1930s and a writer whose books were burned and appeared on banned lists, that was quite an achievement.

Albatross Spines Aldous Huxley no slipcase

Aldous Huxley in Tauchnitz and Albatross – Part 1

By 1928, when Aldous Huxley’s work first appeared in the Tauchnitz series, he was already a well-established writer.   Tauchnitz was still the dominant English language publisher in Continental Europe, but it had struggled during the First World War and the difficulties that followed in Germany.  It was no longer quite at the cutting edge of English literature, where it had been for most of its long existence, and British publishers were becoming reluctant to allow continental reprints as soon after UK publication as they previously had.  Still, to join the near-5000-volume-strong Tauchnitz series was recognition that you had reached a certain level in your profession.  The honour was as much to Huxley as it was to Tauchnitz.

‘Two or three graces’, a collection of Huxley’s short stories appeared in early 1928 (or possibly late 1927) as volume 4810, and the satirical novel ‘Those barren leaves’ followed shortly after as volume 4816.   Although both volumes are dated 1928 on the title page, the first printing of volume 4810 is dated December 1927 at the top of the back wrapper, while volume 4816 is dated January 1928.  There are multiple reprints of both books, identifiable by later dates on the back wrapper.

 Tauchnitz 4810 Two or three graces  Tauchnitz 4810 Two or three graces rear wrapper

 Tauchnitz 4816 Those Barren Leaves  Tauchnitz 4816 Those Barren Leaves rear wrapper

Sales must have gone well, and having identified Huxley as a promising young writer, Tauchnitz were keen to extend the relationship.  The following year they published his new novel ‘Point Counter Point’, a longer work that stretched over two volumes, numbered 4872 and 4873, and dated March 1929 in the first printing.  That was followed up by ‘Brief candles’, another collection of short stories, (volume 4958, dated October 1930) and by ‘Music at Night and other essays’ (volume 5017, dated October 1931).  Both works appeared in Tauchnitz very shortly after first UK publication.

  Tauchnitz 4872 Point Counter Point Vol 1  Tauchnitz 4873 Point Counter Point Vol 2

 Tauchnitz 4958 Brief Candles  Tauchnitz 5017 Music at Night

Tauchnitz though, by this time, was in turmoil.  Hans Christian Wegner had been appointed to manage the firm in late 1929, after the death of Curt Otto, and was keen to modernise the series, encouraging writers such as Huxley, D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce.   But his ideas were too radical for the Tauchnitz board and he left in 1931, becoming one of the key founders of the rival firm Albatross.  At last, Tauchnitz had a serious competitor.

Wegner would have had a relationship with Huxley’s agent and UK publisher and been well aware of which works had already been published by Tauchnitz.  He wanted Huxley for his new Albatross series, and saw an opportunity to win him over by publishing some of the earlier works that had been ignored by Tauchnitz

‘The Gioconda Smile and other stories’ appeared as volume 2 of the Albatross series in 1932.  It brought together most of Huxley’s short stories from the two collections published in the UK as ‘Mortal Coils’ (1922) and ‘Little Mexican’ (1924).  ‘Antic Hay’, another early work from 1923, followed as volume 24, with ‘Crome Yellow’, his first novel from 1921, published as volume 64 in 1933.  Inbetween though came the real prize.  Having won Huxley over and published his early work in far more attractive editions than the drab Tauchnitz volumes, Albatross was rewarded with his latest new work, ‘Brave new World’ published early in 1933 as volume 47 of the series.

     

A further volume of short stories appeared  under the title ‘Uncle Spencer and other stories’ later in 1933, as volume 87.  It combined the two remaining stories from ‘Little Mexican’, with five stories that had appeared in Huxley’s first collection ‘Limbo’ in 1921.  So in the first 100 volumes and the first two years of Albatross, five Huxley volumes had been published.  The tally at that point stood at six Huxley volumes in Tauchnitz and five in Albatross.  Not bad for a writer who was still in his thirties.

Huxley in Tauchnitz and Albatross to 1934

But then two other events intervened that were to have significant effects on Huxley’s continental publishing history.  The first was the near collapse of Tauchnitz, unable to compete with its much more modern rival, and the second was the rise to power in Germany of the Nazi party.  I’ll come back to the effects of those two events in my next post.

La France classique – The French Tauchnitz

Tauchnitz made its name publishing contemporary English literature in Germany and selling it throughout continental Europe, in a series that ran to over 5000 volumes over a period of 100 years from 1841.  Publishing contemporary French literature might have seemed a natural brand extension, but they never tried it.

In modern day terms, the reasons may seem obvious.  English is much more widely spoken than French, particularly as a second language, so the market for French literature would be much smaller.  But it’s not obvious that would have been so much the case 175 years ago, when Tauchnitz launched.  You only need to read Tolstoy to know that in the early 19th century, French was the second language for many educated Europeans.  And the Napoleonic Wars had left much of Europe under French control, barely 30 years before Tauchnitz started publishing.

Napoleon

Nor is it obvious that French literature would have been any less popular, or less widely read.  The romantic novels of Walter Scott had been successful in Europe and with the rise of  Charles Dickens, English literature was perhaps entering a golden age.  But in France, writers such as Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas were similarly popular.  Was there not a market for publishing their works in the original language in other countries in Europe, including Britain as well?

There almost certainly was a market, but not it seems one where Tauchnitz felt he could achieve any competitive advantage.  The difference seems to have been that French literature was already widely available throughout Europe in cheap editions.  These were often pirated by Belgian publishers, but even the French originals were significantly cheaper than British novels.  Given the very public stance that Tauchnitz had taken on paying authors for copyright in respect of English language novels, they could hardly take a different approach with French authors, and they perhaps saw no easy way to compete.

La France Classique 16 Corneille I front cover

Instead Tauchnitz tried for a period to sell classic French works, from long-dead authors, where the question of copyright payments was no longer relevant.   Their series ‘La France Classique’ was launched in 1845, just 3 years or so after the ‘Collection of British Authors’, but ran to just 18 volumes over a 14 year period, so presumably was not a success.

Half of those volumes appeared in the very first year, 1845, including works by Racine, Voltaire and Rousseau, as well as an edition of the fables of La Fontaine.   1846 saw a four volume edition of the works of Molière, but after that there was nothing further until two single volumes in 1849 and 1850.  It was clear by then that there was little interest in extending the series, although a two volume edition of Corneille was published in 1852 and a final volume of Voltaire’s ‘Henriade’ in 1859.

La France Classique 9 Saint-Pierre title page

The first printings of all bar the final volume showed the publisher’s name on the title page as ‘Bern. Tauchnitz Jeune’.  The final volume and reprints of earlier volumes show the publisher as ‘Bernard Tauchnitz’ (using the French, rather than German spelling of Bernard).  I haven’t seen enough copies to be able to distinguish any other variants, although as always paperback copies can be distinguished by which other volumes in the series they advertise on the wrappers.   It seems likely that the series continued to be sold even after the final volume appeared in 1859, although possibly only until stocks were exhausted.

La France Classique spines

Like other Tauchnitz Editions, the French volumes are now found in a wide variety of bindings

Having failed to achieve any competitive advantage in publishing French literature, Tauchnitz then retired from the fray and concentrated on English literature.  The firm did eventually return to publishing in French many years later, but not until the Second World War.  By then the circumstances were very different, and that’s another story.

Happy Birthday, HarperCollins

I used to work for a company, Eagle Star Insurance, which claimed to have been founded in 1807.   It was useful for an insurance company to have been around for a long time.  It gave you more confidence that it might still be around when you came to make a claim, or when your 30 year pension policy finally matured.

The claim was nonsense, really.   Eagle Star had actually been founded by Edward Mountain as the British Dominions Marine Insurance Company in 1904.  It later bought up older companies, including the Eagle Insurance Company (founded in 1807) and the Star, before renaming itself as the Eagle, Star and British Dominions in 1917.   Twenty years later it dropped the British Dominions bit to become just Eagle Star, and adopted the history of the Eagle company, as well as its name.  In my time there, Eagle Star employed an archivist and had a small museum with such treasures as an insurance policy issued to Charles Dickens.

Eagle star 1918 advert

An early advert from 1918, just 14 years after the British Dominions company was formed, shows it already using the date of 1807 in its masthead

Eagle star 1918 advert close-up

But when Eagle Star in turn was bought up by Zurich Insurance Company, that history was no longer wanted.  Zurich had a little earlier celebrated the 125th anniversary of its founding in Zurich in 1872 and had its own museum.  It had no interest in tracing new roots back to London 65 years earlier.  The Eagle Star museum was closed and a new home was sought for the archive.  It ended up in the City of London’s Guildhall Library, where it still is, including that Dickens policy.

harpercollins 200

Publishing is another industry, like insurance, where large numbers of companies have been amalgamated into a small number of modern conglomerates.   So when HarperCollins, a business that has been around for less than 30 years, announces that it is celebrating its 200th anniversary, it’s a reasonable question to ask exactly what it is that goes back 200 years.  For example, Thomas Nelson, one of the many publishing companies belonging to HarperCollins, was founded in Edinburgh in 1798.   It could have celebrated its 200th anniversary almost 20 years ago.  ‘William Collins, Sons’ was founded in Glasgow in 1819, so still has two years to wait.

Thomas Nelson

Perhaps not surprisingly, the company that dates back 200 years is the American firm of J & J Harper.  I suppose they’re regarded as the company that came out on top in the various mergers, and it’s the winners who get to write the history.   So the history of HarperCollins starts in 1817.  And it has to be said that it’s an impressive history, showcased in their wonderful anniversary website at http://200.hc.com/

Christie-with-Collins-768x604

Agatha Christie with Billy Collins of William Collins, Sons

The business has combined so many publishing companies over the years that the list of books first published by its various subsidiaries is long and includes many titles that have become part of the culture.  William Collins was Agatha Christie‘s publisher for most of her books, J. B. Lippincott was the publisher of ‘To kill a mockingbird’ and Lippincott’s Magazine saw the first publication of the Sherlock Holmes novel ‘The sign of (the) four’.    Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was first published by George Allen and Unwin, C.S. Lewis’s early Narnia books were published by Geoffrey Bles, and Harper Brothers published American classics such as ‘A tree grows in Brooklyn’, ‘Charlotte’s Web’, and later ‘The Exorcist’.  All of these are now part of HarperCollins.  It has collected history as if it were collecting stamps.

So Happy Birthday, HarperCollins, and congratulations on your first 200 years … or so.

Charles Dickens – The lost Leipzig letters

The relationship between Charles Dickens and Bernhard Tauchnitz was much closer and friendlier than is often the case between authors and publishers.  The letters between the two men were both very numerous and very cordial.   They were also preserved for a long time.  But where are they now?

“I really do not know what it would be fair and reasonable to require from you.’, writes Dickens in 1846, “But I have every reason to rely upon your honourable intentions; and if you will do me the favour to state your own proposal, I have little doubt that I shall be willing to assent to it …”.   Then in 1854, “… It was a matter of real regret to me that I was abroad when you were in London.  For it would have given me true pleasure to have taken your hand and thanked you with all heartiness for your friendship.  I hope to do so on the occasion of your next visit, and also that it will not be long before you return here.  Mrs. Dickens and her sister unite with me in best regards to yourself and family.”.

    Tauchnitz 2 frontispiece

Bernhard Tauchnitz and Charles Dickens

The two men had known each other since 1843, when Dickens was 31 and Tauchnitz just 26.  Dickens was undoubtedly the star author in the Tauchnitz series.  The Tauchnitz Editions were the only authorised editions of Dickens’ work to be published in continental Europe in English, and covered all of his novels, as well as a long series of volumes reprinted from ‘Household Words’.  So the correspondence between the two men is evidence of a long and trusting relationship.

The letters from Dickens were kept by Tauchnitz, along with correspondence from other authors.  When the firm celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1887 by publishing an anniversary history and catalogue, the book included excerpts from letters sent to Tauchnitz from various authors who had by then died, including Dickens.   A shorter anniversary publication 25 years later in 1912 gave even greater prominence to the correspondence.  This time a dedicated section on letters from Dickens preceded a general section on letters from all other authors.

Letter from Dickens in The Harvest

Facsimile letter from the Centenary publication

In 1937 the Centenary publication contained facsimiles of a small number of author letters, with pride of place again going to a letter from Dickens.   This was followed by a selection of contemporary letters of congratulation on the centenary from prominent people such as the British Prime Minister and the Archbishop of York.  At that point it seems clear that the archive of author correspondence was still in existence.  Presumably it remained the property of Tauchnitz, by then legally owned by Brandstetter, the firm that printed both Tauchnitz and Albatross books.  However Albatross, based in Paris, exercised editorial control over both firms, so it’s certainly possible that some or all correspondence had moved location.

In December 1943, the printing works of Brandstetter in Leipzig were destroyed in an Allied bombing raid, and it has since been widely assumed that the archive was destroyed at that time.  On the 125th anniversary of Tauchnitz in 1962 what remained of the Tauchnitz firm, by then based in Stuttgart, published a final short Festschrift.  It again quoted extracts from two letters from Dickens, but as both of these had already been published in the earlier anniversary histories, they do not provide evidence that the archive was still in existence.  Instead, rather ominously the Festschrift (roughly translated) says that ‘… most of the documents relating to the history and development of the firm in its old home town of Leipzig were destroyed in 1943, or are currently unobtainable as a result of the unhappy division of our country’.

125th Anniversary publication

The 125th anniversary Festschrift

That unhappy division came to an end in 1990 and with it the first evidence that at least some of the documents had survived.  For that evidence we are indebted to Gunter Böhnke, who discovered and transcribed some of the letters from Dickens to Tauchnitz, and to his son, Dietmar Böhnke, a lecturer at the University of Leipzig, who has more recently published them.  Gunter Böhnke in 1991 discovered 34 of Dickens’ letters to Tauchnitz and about 30 others by various Dickens family members and other publishers, in the archive of one of the state owned publishing and printing firms that were about to be dismantled following German reunification.  He photocopied and transcribed them before handing them back.   Unfortunately they have since been lost and there is now no record of what has happened to them.

Other evidence that the archive may have survived comes from a single letter that I was able to buy at auction several years ago – see my post on A letter from Charles Dickens.  This letter was not one of those transcribed by Gunter Böhnke, and was not acknowledged in the auction as being from Dickens, so presumably it must have been separated from other letters, probably before 1991.

24. Auktion

One stray letter, separated from the archive

It appears that at some stage the Tauchnitz archive was broken up.  Large parts of it may by now have been lost or destroyed, even if they survived the 1943 attack.  But there does remain the intriguing possibility that other letters, including those seen in 1991, still exist and may turn up again some day.   That could include not only multiple letters from Dickens, but a treasure trove of letters from other leading authors of the 19th and 20th centuries.