Jarrold and the Jackdaws

It’s usually only people from Norwich who recognise the name Jarrold.   In that area it’s well known as the name of a big department store, and was for a time the name of a stand at Norwich City’s football ground.  The Jarrold Group that run the store was also for many years involved both in printing and in publishing.  The John Jarrold Printing Museum in Norwich is a lasting reminder of their connection with printing.

The name is less well remembered in publishing, but it has a history stretching back almost 200 years.  According to the history on the company’s website, John Jarrold had established a printing press in 1815 and was moving into publishing by 1823.  Jarrold & Sons, as the business became known, was never a major publisher, but it had some striking successes, notably publishing the first edition of ‘Black Beauty’ in 1877.

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The first printing of ‘Black Beauty’, published by Jarrold and Sons

After that the company history becomes a bit vague about what happened to the publishing business.  Wikipedia says Jarrold Publishing was sold to Sutton Publishing in 2007, but the story must be more complicated than this.   It seems clear that at least by the end of the 1930s, the publisher Jarrold & Sons was part of the Hutchinson Group, the group of companies put together by Walter Hutchinson.     The group included John Long, Hurst & Blackett, Stanley Paul, Rich & Cowan, Skeffington and others, as well as Jarrold and Hutchinson itself.  I’m not clear how separate all these companies were.  Each continued to publish books under its own imprint, but particularly in paperback, the books increasingly resembled each other, and sometimes books from different publishers appeared in the same series.

By October 1936, when Jarrold launched a new paperback series, the Jarrolds’ ‘Jackdaw’ Library, the whole paperback  publishing industry in Britain was in turmoil.  Penguin’s launch a year earlier had completely changed the basis of competition in the industry.  Illustrated covers suddenly looked either old-fashioned or down-market or possibly both.

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The Hutchinson Group had already reacted by launching a new Penguin-style series, the Hutchinson Pocket Library, just three months after Penguin.  Alongside this, it had started the companion ‘Crime Book Society’ series, and also a more down-market series of mostly romances, the Hutchinson Popular Pocket Library.

So quite why it needed another paperback series competing in the same market, is far from obvious.  Perhaps Jarrold was at this point operating independently from the Hutchinson Group?  Perhaps there was some perceived distinction between the type of stories in the Hutchinson Pocket Library and the sort published by Jarrold?  In retrospect it seems surprising that they didn’t just combine the series, but at the time they no doubt had their reasons.

They were far from the only company to choose another bird’s name for a series competing with Penguin, and the choice of Jackdaw probably owed something to alliteration.  In most other respects they followed the Penguin model directly – same size, same price, same standard designed cover with a strong series branding, same variety of bold colours, same use of dustwrappers in the same design as the covers.

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In some of the details though they were a bit quirkier.   Their title panel, a white circle on the cover, was copied directly from Collins rather than Penguin, and the choice of colours on the books seems initially to be fairly random, rather than representing genre.  Later on they came into line with almost everybody else by mostly allocating green covers to crime books.  Another quirk was the picture of the jackdaw, which varied slightly from book to book.  There were at least five different drawings, all perched on a post and creating much the same visual impact, but adopting different positions.

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The type of book published was very similar to Penguin.  One of Jarrold’s leading authors at the time was Ethel Mannin, and they had already sold paperback rights for two of her novels to Penguin before starting their own series.  Now another five appeared in the Jackdaw Library, alongside three others by Margery Allingham, later acquired by Penguin.  The highlight of the short series though was Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s ‘Scots Quair’ trilogy.  All three volumes appeared in the series, although slightly oddly, not in the ‘right’ order.  Also included was ‘Spartacus’ written under the same author’s real name, as J. Leslie Mitchell.

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The first eight Jackdaw books appeared together in October 1936 and were followed by another eight in the first three months of 1937, bringing the series up to volume 16.  Volumes 17 to 20 were published in June 1937 before they seemed to run out of steam.   Perhaps they weren’t selling well, or perhaps it was just that as a small publisher they didn’t have enough titles to maintain such a fast pace.

A further two titles appeared a year later in June 1938, both crime titles, and after another year’s gap the series re-launched as the Jackdaw Crime Series, with the numbering starting again from one.  Presumably the crime titles were selling better than the general fiction.

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An early Jackdaw Crime Series title and a later one, unusually in yellow

But by this time war was on the horizon.  Eight Jackdaw Crime Series titles were published in 1939 and another eight by about the end of 1940.  But the books became thinner and lost their dustwrappers as wartime conditions and paper rationing started to bite.  The numbered series ended at volume 16, with a few more unnumbered books appearing later, with the price increased to ninepence.

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A wartime unnumbered title at ninepence

The Hutchinson Services Editions later included a small number of Jarrolds Jackdaw titles and there were even a few more Jackdaws published after the war, but that’s another story.   As a branded series of paperbacks, the Jarrolds Jackdaw Library really lasted only about four years, between 1936 and 1940.  I don’t imagine many people collect them today, or even remember them.  They were though an important part of the great flourishing of paperback series that occurred between the launch of Penguin and the Second World War.

How an albatross gave birth to an entire aviary

When Albatross Books was launched in 1932 to compete with Tauchnitz selling English language books in continental Europe, the name was said to have been chosen because it was almost the same word in all European languages.  The elegant silhouette of an Albatross was a nice design touch, but it seems unlikely that they started off with the idea of having a bird as a motif and then settled on an Albatross as the most suitable bird.

But that seems to be precisely what many other publishing companies did in the years that followed.  The first imitator was Penguin Books, who launched their paperback series in the UK just 3 years later.  Before the launch Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin, had explored the possibility of a joint venture with Albatross.  When that didn’t work, he decided to go it alone, but copied all the principal design features of Albatross, including the use of a seabird as the logo and name of the series.

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Penguin’s launch in the UK was such a success that a large part of the UK publishing industry felt it had to respond by launching similar series, copying many of the design features that Penguin in turn had copied from Albatross.  Perhaps most importantly this meant scrapping cover art and using instead a standard cover design, mostly typographical, and designed to provide a strong identity for the series rather than the individual book.

But for several publishers, copying Penguin’s design features also meant copying their use of a bird as a logo.   The Hutchinson Group even had two goes at it, with the series of Toucan novels, and the Jarrolds Jackdaw series. When the Lutterworth Press launched a series of children’s books, it looked for a correspondingly small bird and came up with Wren Books.  Another publisher of children’s books, Juvenile Productions Ltd., started the Martyn Library, featuring a bird that is presumably meant to be a martin, although I can’t explain the slightly odd spelling.

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One publisher, Methuen, settled on the kingfisher as a logo, but resisted the temptation to call their series Kingfisher books, choosing instead the more prosaic ‘Methuen’s Sixpennies’.  Penguin meanwhile, perhaps concerned that it was losing its distinctiveness, decided to lay claim to all the other birds it could think of that began with a P.  So its non-fiction series was called Pelican Books, its children’s series was called Puffin and there was even a short-lived series of miscellaneous titles at the end of the war called Ptarmigan Books.

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I make that at least eight series of paperback books in the UK given bird logos just between 1935 and 1939, with one later on in 1945.  Not bad for the brood of a single Albatross.

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How Crime became green

The launch of Penguin in July 1935 changed many things in British paperbacks.  Most of their design innovations were copied from the continental publisher Albatross, but other publishers quickly copied them from Penguin and in just a few years they became the standard market practice.

One of these changes was the use of colour to signify the genre of the book.  For Penguin, orange meant  fiction and crime was green.  These two became the dominant colours in the Penguin series, although there was also blue for biography, cerise for travel, red for drama and so on.

For Albatross though, green had meant travel, and they had used red for crime, both in the main series and in the Albatross Crime Club series, which had distinctive red and black covers.  Was red a more appropriate colour for crime?  On the other hand Collins had already issued Crime Club paperbacks in the UK, predominantly in green, so perhaps it was the more natural choice in the UK.

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Pre-Penguin crime paperbacks in the UK were often green

But for Albatross in continental Europe, crime was always red

When it became clear that Penguin’s experiment was a success, others rushed to follow, including of course Collins, who relaunched their Crime Club paperbacks in 1936 in a Penguin style format, with no cover art.  They naturally chose green, using a stylised illustration of two figures with knife and gun, later adding westerns in yellow and mysteries in purple.

Hutchinson had launched its rival Penguin-style series in October 1935, using a variety of colours, but no clear indication of genre.  In June 1936 it added an associated crime series under the ‘Crime Book Society’ brand, and again used a range of colours.

Early Crime Book Society titles used all sorts of colours

But their distinctiveness didn’t last for long.  Within a year or so they too had accepted that crime meant green.  From about September 1937 onwards, all Crime Book Society paperbacks appeared in green covers. They were soon followed by two other imprints, both related to the Hutchinson Group, the Jackdaw Crime series and the Crime Novel Library.  Both series used only green covers and the convention now seemed to be well established – green means crime.

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Tauchnitz ‘Cabinet Editions’

Tauchnitz Editions sold for around the equivalent of 1s 6d, certainly much cheaper than the typical 7s 6d price for a hardback in the UK in the 19th century, but they were not exactly cheap paperbacks.   In the UK paperbacks rarely sold for more than 6d, even for much of the first half of the twentieth century, and were often more like 3d or 4d.

Although the Tauchnitz Editions were mostly sold as paperbacks, the expectation was that many of them would be privately bound and so the quality of the paper, the printing  and the binding had to be consistent with this.  They had a delicate balance to strike between quality and price – not such high quality that they were too expensive to be bought as paperbacks, but sufficiently high to be privately bound and last for hundreds of years.

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A typical 19th century Tauchnitz paperback, selling for ½ Thaler

But doesn’t every publisher dream of being able to escape from the constraints of price and produce higher quality editions?   Tauchnitz certainly did, and the result was a very short series of gift books, known as the ‘Cabinet Edition of English Classics’, starting in 1862.

Two of the volumes, ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ by Byron, and ‘The lady of the lake’ by Walter Scott, were lengthy narrative poems that had already been published by Tauchnitz as part of larger volumes of poetry.  The other two were Shakespeare plays, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’, available both as individual plays and as part of longer volumes.  So all four were already sold by Tauchnitz, and at much cheaper prices. Here each is extracted to form a small gift-book on its own and is given a cloth binding with both gilt and blind-stamped decoration,  an engraved frontispiece, higher quality paper and all edges gilded.  Everything needed for them to appear like an attractive gift or keepsake.

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There is little information on the series in the Tauchnitz bibliography by Todd & Bowden, partly because the authors were able to find just a single copy of two of the books and no copy at all of the other two.  This no doubt partly reflects the low numbers produced and the even lower numbers now surviving, but also probably that being unlike most other Tauchnitz editions, they are rarely found in the standard Tauchnitz collections.  They are undoubtedly rare, but perhaps not as rare as the evidence of the bibliography would suggest.  There are now copies of all four in my own collection, and I have seen evidence of several other copies.

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The evidence of the copies I have, contradicts the numbering and the dates assigned to them by Todd & Bowden.  The books themselves are not numbered, but the bibliography gives ‘The lady of the lake’ precedence over ‘Hamlet’ on the incorrect assumption that they were published in 1862 and 1863 respectively.  In practice the dates were the other way round, so that ‘Hamlet’ was one of the first two volumes, together with ‘Childe Harold’.   The final volume was ‘Romeo and Juliet’, published in 1864.

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The frontispiece to Hamlet

Incidentally the photo above shows each in a different colour cover, but it may not be as simple as this.  I have seen ‘Childe Harold’ in bindings of two different colours and with other differences as well, so it’s not clear exactly what else may exist.

The price they were sold at, according to Todd & Bowden (referencing the 1880 German Book Catalogue) was 3 Marks (or 1 Thaler) for each of the poems, and 2 Marks (around 0.70 Thaler) for the Shakespeare plays.  As far as I can tell, this price sounds reasonable for what they are, but the individual Shakespeare plays sold in paperback for 0.1 Thaler, so they may have looked expensive in comparison.

Anyway as the series extended to only these four volumes, it seems safe to assume that they were not a success.  At least one of the books though seems to have enjoyed a second life as a tourist souvenir in Rome.  A range of Tauchnitz books with Italian themes or settings were produced by or for the Italian tourist trade in the 1870s and 1880s, bound in vellum and mostly extra-illustrated.  ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ was too small to be extra-illustrated with postcards, but it is now found in a variety of vellum bindings that seem to come from Italy.  They’re likely to be quite a bit later than the original issue of the book.  Did Tauchnitz have left over copies that they were happy to recycle in this way?  Or did Italian bookbinders order new sets of printed pages for binding?

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An Italian vellum bound edition

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Four versions in custom bindings, each one slightly different

Penguin’s highbrow reputation

I keep coming back to the launch of Penguin Books in July 1935.  In publishing terms it was an absolutely seminal event, and this blog is after all called Paperback Revolution.

But one of the reasons I keep coming back to it is that I still feel it’s an event that is often misunderstood.  Some people seem to think paperbacks didn’t even exist before Penguin, although they had already existed for centuries.  Others think they were the first to sell at 6d, although lots of paperbacks were sold at 6d before Penguin, and at cheaper prices too. There was even a series of hardback books at 7d, launched shortly before Penguin. Another claim is that Penguin’s key breakthrough was to publish contemporary literature in paperback, within a year or two of first publication.  In practice though, their first ten books were published on average 12 years after first publication, and for the second ten this rose to 17 years.

But one of the most persistent beliefs is that Penguin were the first to sell quality highbrow literature in paperback, whereas most previous paperbacks were downmarket and trashy.  There’s enough truth in this one to encourage its adherents, but it needs to be examined critically.

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Pre-Penguin Paperbacks from 1905 and from around 1930

These were the first ten Penguins, published in July 1935:

  1.  Ariel by Andre Maurois
  2. A farewell to arms by Ernest Hemingway
  3. Poet’s Pub by Eric Linklater
  4. Madame Claire by Susan Ertz
  5. The unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers
  6. The mysterious affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  7. Twenty-five by Beverley Nichols
  8. William by E.H. Young
  9. Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
  10. Carnival by Compton Mackenzie

There can be no doubt about ‘A farewell to arms’.  This is a genuine classic, the reputation of which was already established by 1935 and has only continued to grow since then.  But what about the rest of them?

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‘Ariel’, a biography of Shelley translated from the original French, was surely a serious highbrow book?  Well, not really.  It’s an example of a romance biography, which had been a relatively new style in the 1920s (the book was first published in France in 1923, and in Britain in 1924), combining fictionalised elements with a description of Shelley’s life.  Described by one recent reviewer as ‘a featherlite meringue of a book … Shelley’s short life as a Hollywood melodrama … Skin-deep characterisation, shamelessly invented conversations and pulse-pounding dramaturgy put the whole experience closer to Downton Abbey than anything resembling scholarly rigour’.  That doesn’t sound as if it’s a revolution from the paperbacks that were on offer before Penguin arrived.

Number 3, ‘Poet’s Pub’ is a sub-P.G. Wodehouse comic novel, while Number 4, ‘Madame Claire’ is a light romantic story, at best middlebrow.  Neither has laid any claim to literary posterity.  Numbers 5 and 6 are both crime stories, relatively classic ones, but from a genre that was widely available in paperback long before Penguin.  ‘Twenty-five’ by Beverley Nichols, is then an early ‘autobiography’ from someone now best known as a gardening writer.  In reality though it’s more an account of the various celebrities he had met.  In modern terms it’s almost celebrity journalism.

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Number 8, ‘William’ by E.H. Young, is another light romantic novel by an author who was bestselling in her day, but has been forgotten by history, as is Number 9.  Mary Webb, author of ‘Gone to Earth’ wrote what have become known as ‘loam and lovechild’ stories of rural life, aping the style of Thomas Hardy.  Webb’s style had already been parodied by Stella Gibbons in ‘Cold Comfort Farm’, which might have been a more radical choice for Penguin’s ‘first ten’.  It did appear later.

That leaves ‘Carnival’ by Compton Mackenzie, the oldest book in the first batch, having been first published in 1912.  It’s the story of a dancer, her life and loves, which had been very popular in its day and twice made into a film.  Maybe a slightly more serious choice, but certainly not a revolution in terms of the type of book available in paperback.

As an aside, two of those ‘first ten’ authors,  Compton Mackenzie and Eric Linklater, were active in the Scottish National Party, formed only a few years earlier, even though Mackenzie was born in England and Linklater in Wales.  Perhaps their political legacy is greater than their literary legacy?

Overall it seems to me hard to sustain an argument that Penguin’s early success was due to publishing more highbrow literature than had previously been available in paperback.  The story is more complicated than that.  Penguin undoubtedly did go on to publish serious literature and established something of a highbrow reputation through ventures such as Pelican and the Penguin Classics.  But I’d argue their early success was more to do with getting rid of illustrated covers, than with the actual quality of the literature.  Penguin’s real trick was to make you feel you were reading serious literature, rather than another trashy paperback.  But what it actually served up within those iconic covers, was often very similar to what had gone before.

Dickens – the extra Christmas numbers in Tauchnitz

Bookdealer Jeremy Parrott hit the headlines last year when he discovered a remarkable set of bound volumes of ‘All the Year Round’, the periodical founded and owned by Charles Dickens.  The volumes had been annotated by Dickens himself to show the names of the authors of each contribution.

All articles, stories and poems had originally been published anonymously, with only Dickens’ own name appearing as editor. The authors of many had remained unknown for well over 100 years.  It had become one of the great literary puzzles that scholars debated endlessly, and at one stroke Jeremy Parrott seems to have solved it.  It’s hard to imagine the excitement that he must have felt when he realised what he had discovered.

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But a small dent had been made in this puzzle much earlier.   One of the many firsts that the German publisher Tauchnitz achieved, was to be the first to identify who had written what in some of the Christmas numbers of ‘All the Year Round’.  Here’s how it happened.

It had become a tradition for Dickens each Christmas to publish a special Christmas number of ‘All the Year Round’ (and before that ‘Household Words’), which contained a series of short stories by different authors linked into a single overall framework.  Dickens himself would write at least one story, as well as forming the framework, and other contributors would write the other stories, or chapters.  As usual, contributors other than Dickens were mostly anonymous.

In 1862 Tauchnitz reprinted the stories from ‘All the Year Round’ of 1859, 1860 and 1861 as volume 609 of the Collection of British Authors, under the title ‘Christmas Stories’.  The paperback wrapper described the stories as being by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins etc., but the title page, listed all the separate authors for each story.   Dickens and Collins are given precedence in each case, followed by the other names, so it is not made clear exactly which parts were written by which author.  But at least the names are there, and according to research by Neville Davies in 1978, this is believed to be the first time that they had been identified.

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Tauchnitz volume 609 – crediting all authors

Tauchnitz had been caught out before by reprinting works from ‘Household Words’ and seeming to attribute them just to Dickens.  In 1856 he had started a series of ‘Novels and Tales  reprinted from Household Words, conducted by Charles Dickens’, where most of the writing was by other authors.  This was in the tradition of ‘Household Words’, but it became a bit much when all of volume 4 of the series and most of volume 5 were devoted to a single novel, ‘The dead secret’, written by Wilkie Collins.   Although Collins was credited on the contents page, the only author’s name on the title page and the wrappers of the first printing was that of Dickens, and this really did seem unfair.  On later printings, Collins was properly credited.  Once bitten, Tauchnitz may have been twice shy.  When it came to reprinting the Christmas stories, he wanted all authors credited.

Five years later in 1867, he brought the series up to date by publishing the Christmas stories from 1862, 1863 and 1864 as volume 888 in the series, and those from 1865 and 1866 as volume 894.  Perhaps surprisingly, this time the title page shows only the name of Dickens, although it does add ‘and the authors named at the head of the stories’.   Although this is in some ways a step backwards, the real difference here is that at the start of the stories, each chapter has the name of the author against it, so that we can now see exactly who wrote what.   Again this is believed to be the first time that this information had been revealed.  Presumably it was done with the approval of Dickens, and the same information appeared in Britain the following year, after the final Christmas story of 1867, when a Collected Edition of all the 9 stories from 1859 to 1867 was published.

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Tauchnitz volume 888 – ‘Charles Dickens and the authors named at the head of the stories’

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That final 1867 story – ‘No thoroughfare’, which was written by Dickens and Collins only, was published in a Tauchnitz Edition in June 1868, as volume 961, and both authors are fully credited.  But the story was not long enough to fill a volume on its own and so another story that had been published in ‘All the year round’ was included with it.  ‘The late Miss Hollingford’ had been written by Rosa Mulholland, but was published anonymously, leaving the rather unfortunate impression that it too had been written by Dickens and Collins.

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‘The late Miss Hollingford’ – not by Dickens and Collins

 

America’s Overseas Editions

By March 1944, the Council on Books in Wartime, the body responsible for publishing the US Armed Services Editions, was already starting to think about the need for books in post-war Europe.  Not in an entirely disinterested way, of course.  This was a project sponsored by the Psychological Warfare Branch, made up of members of the US Army, the Office of War Information and the OSS, a wartime intelligence agency that was the predecessor of the CIA.  In the words of the official history of the Council, ‘Books were wanted which would give the people of Europe a picture of what Americans are like and what we had been doing since communications were closed’.  Not to put too fine a point on it, this was a propaganda exercise, and one that led to a substantial publishing programme.

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The Americans were undoubtedly right though to identify the need for books, and to prepare for it.  Within a relatively short time the US, along with the other Allies, found itself directly administering some quite large areas of Europe, and present in much wider areas.  Its ambitions were far more than just to keep the peace.  It wanted to do what it could to ensure there would never be another European war, and in pursuit of that goal it wanted to spread what it saw as American values of freedom and democracy, and suppress what remained of the philosophy of totalitarianism.

Within the directly administered areas in Germany, Austria and Italy, the US took wide-ranging control of almost all aspects of the media, through the Information Services Branch (ISB).  Press and radio were tightly controlled, as were other aspects such as theatre, cinema and even art.  But publishing was clearly an important area for the spread of ideas and as well as trying to influence and control the output of local publishers, the Americans issued their own publications, as did the British.

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For the British, the series of Guild Books editions, published in Germany and in Austria, were the gentlest form of propaganda.   The American equivalent, the ‘Overseas Editions’, were both more political and more explicit in their aim.  As John Hench described it in his ‘History of the Book in America’, the books were “intended  to reacquaint Europeans with the heritage, history, and fundamental makeup of the USA, plus a picture of our role in the war.”

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Overseas Editions were produced by a subsidiary of the Council on Books in Wartime, and shared some of the same production methods and some of the same titles as the Armed Services Editions.  But in other respects they were very different and posed particular problems.  The most obvious difficulty was the intention to publish in foreign languages.  That required translations, which took time, and it also required typesetters competent in those languages, who were in short supply.  Plans to publish in both Chinese and Japanese had to be dropped at a late stage.

Finance was also a significant problem, only solved in the end by an offer from Pocket Books to use its credit, in return for having its imprint on the finished books.  When this led to further problems though, Pocket Books waived its rights and no imprint appeared.

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In shape and size, the books were closer to Pocket Books than the unconventional oblong shape of the Armed Services Edition.   In one respect though they differed from both  Pocket Books and Armed Services Editions and almost all other American paperbacks of the time.   US paperbacks were almost defined by the colourfulness, even brashness  of their covers.  Yet the Overseas Editions have an extraordinarily restrained standard typographical cover, with just a small logo.   Did the Americans decide that brashness would not go down well in a more sober Europe, or was it just inappropriate for the more serious subject matter here?

Most of the books, including the Italian translations, but interestingly not the German ones, carry a short message on the front cover referring to how free publishing had been ‘interrupted by Axis aggression’.

A total of 72 books were published – 22 in English, 22 in French, 23 in German and 5 in Italian.  Some of the same titles appear in all four languages, but there’s also some variation.  Most of them are unashamedly patriotic works – Stephen Vincent Benét’s ‘America’, Bernard Jaffe’s ‘Men of Science in America’ and Walter Lippmann’s ‘US War aims’ were typical selections.  But there was also room for a small number of novels, notably Hemingway’s ‘For whom the bell tolls’ and William Saroyan’s ‘The human comedy’.

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Over 3.6 million books were printed, all of them in 1945, with the final shipment in November 1945.  The overall cost was $411,000, equivalent to around 11½ cents each, and as the books were sold at retail prices in each market, the project produced a profit for the Government, something that wasn’t in its original objectives.  Indeed a note in the books is quite specific that they are published by a non-profit organisation.

The books were widely sold, not only in occupied Europe, but also in North Africa, Syria, Turkey, the Philippines, China and Japan.  They’re still relatively easy to find in second hand markets in Europe, in Holland and Belgium as well as in Germany, France and Italy.

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Overseas Editions in German, numbered G1 to G23

 

 

 

 

A Victorian satirist in Tauchnitz Editions

The name of Eustace Clare Grenville: Murray is hardly well-known these days, and so far as I know no photo of him survives.  But between 1871 and 1883, ten of his books, accounting for a total of 17 volumes, were published by Tauchnitz in its Collection of British Authors.   Although the first three were published initially under a pseudonym, he clearly became a well-enough known writer to sell significant numbers of books on the European continent, as well as in Britain.

One of the reasons for his relative lack of public profile, then as now, was that much of his work, both as an author and as a journalist, was published anonymously or under pseudonyms.  And with good cause.   A lot of his output was highly satirical, or even scurrilous, mocking public figures mercilessly.  He almost single-handedly invented, or at least developed, the style of journalism that in today’s Britain would appear in Private Eye. In his own day though, he wrote extensively for ‘Household Words’, the journal edited by Charles Dickens, as well as for various newspapers and briefly for his own publication,’The Queen’s Messenger’.

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Extracts from ‘The Queen’s Messenger’

For much of his life he combined his writing with work as a diplomat, based in Vienna, Constantinople and Odessa amongst other places, and he didn’t hesitate to lampoon his colleagues and even his direct superiors in the diplomatic service.  The Ambassador in Vienna became Lord Fiddledee in Grenville Murray’s writings, while the Ambassador in Constantinople was immortalised as Sir Hector Stubble.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, he failed to progress in the service, and was shunted into various diplomatic backwaters before being dismissed in 1868.

The cover of anonymity failed again to protect him from trouble the following year, when he published an article satirising Lord Carrington and mocking his late father.   Carrington attacked him physically, outside the Conservative Club, leading to a series of court cases, and eventually to Grenville Murray’s exile in France.  That was far from the end of his journalistic career, but it was the stimulus for his career as a novelist, and as a Tauchnitz author.

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His first novel to appear was ‘The member for Paris: a tale of the Second Empire’ written under the pseudonym of ‘Trois-Etoiles’ and published in 1871 in two volumes (vols. 1183 and 1184).  It was followed by two other novels under the same pseudonym, the partly autobiographical ‘Young Brown’ in 1874 (vols. 1444 and 1445), and ‘The boudoir cabal’, in 1875 (vols. 1514, 1515 and 1516).

Grenville Murray had arrived in Paris shortly before the Franco-Prussian War, the siege of Paris in 1870/71 and then the repression of the Paris Commune with much bloodshed.  It was the worst of times, but for a journalist and an author, it was also the best of times. There was both a wealth of material and intense public interest, in Britain and on the continent, in the events of the time and in the regime that had preceded it.

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A rare paperback first printing

He followed up those first three novels with two series of sketches of French life, called ‘French Pictures in English Chalk’, for the first time published under his own name, and now acknowledging his authorship of the earlier volumes as well.  The first series appeared in 1876 (vols. 1612 and 1613) and the second in 1878 (vols. 1770 and 1771).  In-between, ‘The Russians of Today’, a satirical review of Russian life drawing on his experiences in Odessa, was published as volume 1742.  A single volume of ‘Strange Tales’ (vol. 1793) was his third publication in 1878, followed in 1879 by another two volume novel ‘That artful vicar’ (vols. 1820 and 1821).

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Astonishingly, as well as those three books published by Tauchnitz in 1878, he was also able in the same year to have a fourth book issued in the rival ‘Asher’s Collection’ then published by Karl Grädener in Hamburg.  Another series of sketches of French life, ‘Round About France’ appeared as volume 145 in Asher’s Collection.  This seems though to have been the only title he denied to Tauchnitz.

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Grenville Murray died in Paris in 1881, but there must still have been the appetite in continental Europe for more of his writings, as two posthumous volumes followed.  ‘Six months in the ranks’, a novel of military life, was published in 1882 as volume 2064, and ‘People I have met’, a series of comic character sketches, as volume 2129 the following year.

Like all Tauchnitz Editions, the books were originally published as paperbacks, but few first printing copies remain in their original wrappers.  Most surviving copies have been rebound, and are found now in the usual variety of bindings.

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I can’t finish this post without first acknowledging the biography of Grenville Murray written by  Professor G.R. Berridge, called ‘A diplomatic whistleblower in the Victorian era’.  And secondly I have to deal with the question of that odd name.

At his birth in 1824 his name was recorded simply as ‘Eustace, son of Richard and Emma Clare’.  But Clare seems to have been an invented surname to cover up his illegitimacy. The actual parents were Richard Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, and Emma Murray, an actress.   He grew up with his mother and first took her surname, becoming Eustace Clare Murray.   Only later did he add his father’s surname as well, to become Eustace  Clare Grenville: Murray.   The colon seems to have been nothing but an affectation.  In the long run, as in the short run, his true fate was to become anonymous.

A century of celebrations and the celebration of a centenary

Tauchnitz loved issuing celebratory volumes and had plenty of occasions to do so.  The 500th volume of the series in 1860, the 1000th volume in 1869 and the 2000th in 1881 were all marked by specially commissioned volumes and by specially bound presentation copies to be offered to authors, friends and business contacts.

Then in 1887 it was time to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the business, with a specially published history.  Much of this is taken up with a long list of the works published by the firm, making it a rather luxurious catalogue, but it also includes excerpts from authors’ letters to Tauchnitz, which was to become a feature of subsequent histories.

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Title page of the 50th anniversary history

Volume 3000 seemed to slip by largely unnoticed, but volume 4000 in 1909 was marked by a ‘A manual of American literature’.   This gave full recognition for the first time to the huge contribution from American authors to a series that for 70 years had been called ‘The Collection of British Authors’.

Then in 1912 another anniversary history to mark 75 years.  The catalogue of publications has now disappeared, and more prominence is given to letters from authors, with Charles Dickens pre-eminent among them.

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A selection of letters from Dickens in the 75 year history

The milestone of the 5000th volume was reached in 1931 and celebrated with an ‘Anthology of Modern English Poetry’, but by then the business was tottering.  It was sold in 1934, and lived on until the outbreak of war effectively as a sub-division of Albatross, the firm which had defeated it commercially.

So when the time came to write its centenary publication in 1937 it must have felt to some in the firm more of an obituary than a celebration.  The task of writing it fell to John Holroyd-Reece, the Managing Director of Albatross, and in the end he did Tauchnitz proud, although an early draft had contained a paragraph seeming to celebrate his own role rather too much.  Again the publication included a selection of letters from famous authors, including Dickens and Disraeli, this time in facsimile form, and also a range of congratulatory letters from well-known people, including the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin and the Archbishop of York.  Slightly oddly, it was given the title of ‘The Harvest’, perhaps suggesting that the firm was now reaping the benefits of previous efforts, and no longer sowing new seed for the future, a position uncomfortably close to the truth.

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The book appeared in two different forms, one with cream paper boards, and one with gold wrappers, each with a blind-stamped Tauchnitz Centenary logo on the front.  Neither version is difficult to find today.  More interesting are the presentation copies prepared for authors and other friends of the firm.  These are identical to the gold paperback edition, but the half-title is replaced with an individual printed page with the name of the person to whom it was presented.   The copy illustrated here was presented to Janet Beith, the author of ‘No second spring’, published as volume 5157 in 1934.  Other copies in public collections have the names of W.W. Jacobs, Louis Golding, H.M. Tomlinson and Helen Simpson.

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Presumably copies were printed with the names of all Tauchnitz authors still alive in 1937, which would have included, amongst many others, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Graham Greene, Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Daphne du Maurier, Aldous Huxley, P.G. Wodehouse and A.A. Milne.   As Louis Golding, whose copy survives, was published only by Albatross, never by Tauchnitz itself, this suggests copies may also have been presented to all Albatross authors.   In that case, copies may exist with the names of Agatha Christie, Evelyn Waugh and Ernest Hemingway, amongst others.

An intriguing question arises though from the fact that several of the Tauchnitz authors, including for instance Joyce, Wells and Huxley, had been placed on the list of banned authors, by the Nazi party, then in power in Germany.  Albatross, whose editorial offices were based in Paris, continued to publish works by banned authors, but always in the Albatross series rather than in Tauchnitz, and presumably for sale only outside Germany.  Interestingly the Albatross books were still being printed in Germany, just down the road from where other works by some of the same authors were being burned.  But did Tauchnitz in 1937, a German-owned firm based in Leipzig, print special celebratory volumes for authors at that time banned in Germany?  A copy printed for James Joyce would be an interesting find …

Jane Austen in Tauchnitz Editions

Before the Tauchnitz series started in 1841, there was a flourishing market of pirate editions of English language novels in continental Europe.   Indeed Bernard Tauchnitz himself started off as a pirate before eventually turning to the straight and narrow.  The novels of writers such as Charles Dickens, Walter Scott and Bulwer Lytton were widely published in France and in Germany, both in English and in translation, without any authorisation and with no payment to the author.

Jane Austen however seems to have been of little interest to the pirates.  Her novels were translated into French and later into German, but I can find no evidence of her work being published by any of the main English language publishers in Germany or France.  The copyright on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ expired in 1841, so after that she could have been published freely anyway, even with the introduction of international copyright agreements.  But still there seems to have been little interest.

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A French translation of Pride and Prejudice from 1832

Once Tauchnitz got into his stride, his interest was mainly in publishing contemporary English literature.  Most of his publications came out very quickly after first UK publication, and for many of the more established authors, publication in the UK and in the Tauchnitz Edition happened almost simultaneously.  But he still found room in the series for earlier novels and out of copyright works, often using them to fill gaps in the publishing schedule and keep the printing works busy.  Over a period of 20 years he published almost all of the works of Walter Scott, who had died in 1832, and of course he included the works of Shakespeare in the series and other early novelists such as Swift, Smollett, Defoe and Sterne.  But for the first 20 years, no Jane Austen.

Perhaps she was too English to be of interest to continental readers?  That seems unlikely to be the whole story though, as a significant part of the Tauchnitz market was selling to British and American travellers on the continent.  The more likely explanation is that she was simply out of fashion, even with British readers.  Although her works had been reprinted several times, sales were slow in Britain and they were not yet seen as classics of English literature.

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A rare paperback first printing of Sense and Sensibility

In 1864 though, Tauchnitz decided to dip a toe in the water, with publication of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ as volume 735 of his Collection of British Authors.  Like all Tauchnitz Editions it was originally issued in paperback and the first printing is distinguished by reference on the wrapper to the 15th edition of the Tauchnitz English-German dictionary.  Later paperback printings will generally have a date at the top of the back wrapper.  Most surviving copies though have been bound and first printings can only be identified by the absence of any other works by the same author listed on the back of the half title.

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Reference to the ‘Fifteenth Stereotype Edition’ of the English / German Dictionary confirms this is a first printing

Presumably sales were sufficiently encouraging, because ‘Mansfield Park’ followed in 1867 as volume 883 of the series.  Publication seems to have been planned for March of that year, but the book did not appear until June, after volume 893, probably again being used to fill in a gap in the schedule of more up-to-date works.  The paperback 1st printing referred to the 17th edition of the English-German dictionary and again the half-title showed no other works by Austen.

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For ‘Mansfield Park’ the first printing shows no other titles by Austen on the half-title verso

Still there was no hurry to issue ‘Pride and Prejudice’, but it did eventually appear in 1870, as volume 1112, almost 30 years into the Tauchnitz series and over 50 years after first publication in the UK.  Arguably publication was long overdue, but in the end the timing was good. Jane Austen’s nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, had published ‘A memoir of Jane Austen’ in 1869 and it sparked a renewed interest in the author, with her novels being republished in Britain as well.

The paperback first printing of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is identified by its reference to the 21st edition of the English-German dictionary and the half-title lists the two other works previously published by Tauchnitz.  Later printings list 4 works.  As with most Tauchnitz Editions of this period, first printing copies are of course rare, and paperback first printings particularly so.

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A list of four other titles identifies this as a reprint (two for the first printing)

Tauchnitz followed up the increased interest in Austen by publishing a combined edition of ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion’ as volume 1176 in October 1871.  The bibliographers were unable to find a single copy of the first printing in paperback, so I can’t confirm any identifying marks, but it might be expected to refer to either the 21st or 22nd edition of the English-German dictionary.  Certainly on bound editions, the first edition should list only three (rather than four) other works by the same author on the half-title verso.

The set of Jane Austen editions in Tauchnitz was still not completed until finally ‘Emma’ was published in 1877, 13 years after ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and over 60 years after first publication of the novel in the UK.   The volume number is 1645 and the first printing in paperback is dated February 1877 at the top of the back wrapper.  Later printings exist dated April 1900 and December 1905, possibly amongst other dates.  For bound editions though there is no easy way of distinguishing first editions.  All copies list the four other books by Austen on the back of the half-title, and the only other clue to date is likely to be the binding.

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For ‘Emma’ all editions list four other titles.  This may or may not be a first printing.

I don’t quite understand why it took so long to get all of Austen’s novels published in the Tauchnitz series, but I can only assume that sales had been slow.  Given Tauchnitz’s aspirations to include all the best of English literature in his series, he would surely not have passed up the opportunity to publish all the Austen novels, now well out of copyright, if the early ones he published had been selling well.

After the publication of ‘Emma’ though, the other books were all reprinted, with the reprints in each case showing all four other books on the half-title verso.  Over time sales must surely have built up and been profitable for Tauchnitz.  At least three of the novels were still in print in Tauchnitz Editions in the 1930s although surprisingly ‘Emma’ seems not to have been.

Reprint copies of most of the books are probably not rare now in comparison to other Tauchnitz Editions.  They do though seem to be more sought after and so prices are higher, in some cases much higher.  Presumably Jane Austen collectors are either very numerous, or have particularly deep pockets – perhaps both!   Since the Tauchnitz Editions of Austen are effectively all reprints 50 to 60 years after first printing anyway, it’s not obvious that they should feature highly in an Austen collection.

First printings however are undoubtedly rare, as with almost all 19th Century Tauchnitz Editions.  The combination of that rarity, together with the demand from Jane Austen collectors, can sometimes push prices very high.  Over the last 25 years I have seen several first printings of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ offered for sale (and many more reprints masquerading as first printings), but they have never been at prices that I’ve been prepared to pay.   So for the time being my Tauchnitz collection includes only a later reprint.  I’ll keep looking!

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A motley selection of Austen titles in Tauchnitz Editions, paperback and bound copies