Monthly Archives: March 2015

DH Lawrence in Tauchnitz and Albatross

For one of the most important writers of the 1910s and 1920s, D.H. Lawrence was strangely neglected by Tauchnitz, which had earlier had an excellent record in identifying and publishing the best works of English literature over a long period.   As with James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, Lawrence seems to exemplify the way that Tauchnitz had rather lost its way after the First World War, lost touch with the latest trends in English literature and most importantly become out of touch with its own customers and potential customers.

Tauchnitz 4825 England my England

Lawrence didn’t appear at all in Tauchnitz until 1928, when a first short story collection, ‘England, my England’ was issued as volume 4825.   A further book of short stories, ‘The woman who rode away’ (vol. 4877) appeared the following year, together with ‘Sons and Lovers’ in a double volume, (4879/ 80), the only one of Lawrence’s full length novels to appear in Tauchnitz.   Two further volumes of novellas / short stories followed, after Lawrence’s death in 1930.  But 6 volumes, mostly of his shorter works, hardly do justice to the works of one of the greatest writers of the period. In fairness it should be said that this was not the universal opinion at the time.  Although Lawrence had many supporters, he also had his critics and was certainly a controversial novelist.   Were Tauchnitz influenced by the controversial nature of some of his works, even in advance of the rise of the Nazi party?

Tauchnitz DH Lawrence spines 2

A battered, but complete collection of the DH Lawrence volumes in Tauchnitz

If they were, they paid the price.  Their neglect of Lawrence and other modern authors, was certainly one of the factors that opened up the opportunity for Albatross to attack their market, which they did with spectacular success from their launch in 1932. Lawrence’s work was prominent in the Albatross list, with ‘Apocalypse’ and ‘The white peacock’ appearing in that first year, followed by a special edition of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ in 1933 (published in plain covers by the Odyssey Press, but effectively Albatross volume 56).   By the time the series reached 100 volumes it already included 7 volumes of Lawrence – more than of any other author – and by mid 1934 when the editorial departments of Albatross and Tauchnitz merged, the volume count stood at 8 in Albatross and 6 in Tauchnitz.

Albatross 98 The trespasser

Albatross volume 98 published in 1934

Running two different brands and series required some decisions about which authors should go in which series, and it’s not obvious looking back exactly how all those decisions were made.   In the case of Lawrence though, the decision was effectively made for them.  From 1933 his works had been banned by the Nazi party in Germany, which made it almost impossible for them to be included in the Tauchnitz series, so it was Albatross or nothing.  He and Aldous Huxley, another banned author, seem to have been singled out as prime Albatross authors, and honoured with a ‘Collected Edition’ of their works.   Not only were further new works issued in Albatross, but those works already published in Tauchnitz were transferred across as reprinting was required.   Although the books were banned in Germany, they were nevertheless printed in Leipzig, with distribution organised from Hamburg.   The publication and sale of an important Collected Edition of Lawrence’s work seems to have gone on under the nose of the Nazis.

Albatross publicity for DH Lawrence Collected Edition

Four of the five Tauchnitz volumes of Lawrence were reissued in Albatross, including ‘Sons and Lovers’, issued as volume 292 in 1936. By the end of 1938, there were a total of 17 volumes of Lawrence in the Albatross Collected Edition, if ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ (always kept slightly separate) is included, but his contribution didn’t end there.   Before the war intervened, there was still time to publish three thick volumes of Lawrence’s letters, taking the total up to 20 volumes.  Finally it could be said that the combination of Albatross and Tauchnitz had done justice to Lawrence’s place in English literature.

Albatross Spines DH Lawrence

The Albatross Collected Edition of DH Lawrence

Martin Chuzzlewit – the Gassmann cometh

Charles Dickens played a key part in the publishing history of Tauchnitz.   The Pickwick Papers was published as volumes 2 and 3 of the Tauchnitz series that eventually ran to over 5000 volumes, and Dickens was one of the first authors to agree to the Tauchnitz proposal of voluntary payment in return for authorisation, in the days before copyright.   Almost all the works of Dickens were published in the Tauchnitz series, including 47 volumes of stories reprinted from ‘Household Words’, the magazine edited by Dickens.   The two men enjoyed a close friendship, and a long correspondence.

But Tauchnitz also played a key part in the publishing history of Dickens.  After that landmark agreement on authorisation, Dickens or his publishers would supply Tauchnitz with early copies of the text of his novels, in the form of proof sheets or part-issues.   Tauchnitz was able to bring out a continental edition almost simultaneously with the UK edition, or sometimes even earlier, so that in some cases the Tauchnitz edition is the worldwide first edition in book form.   Nobody quite know how many of the Dickens novels this applies to. It needs book historians to carry out a lot more detective work yet.   But certainly one example is ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, the first of Dickens’ novels to be published in an authorised edition by Tauchnitz.

The agreement had come in 1843, after Tauchnitz had already published 7 unauthorised volumes by Dickens, including ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ as well as ‘The Pickwick Papers’.   The publication of ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ had already started in monthly instalments in the UK and would continue through to July 1844 before a complete edition of the novel in book form was published.  But by December 1843, in return for payment of £5 10s, Dickens was able to issue the first volume of the book, covering chapters 1 to 25 (almost the first 10 parts).   This volume appeared 6 or 7 months ahead of any publication in book form in the UK.   The second volume of the book appeared in the Tauchnitz edition in July 1844, almost at the same time as the UK edition.

Martin Chuzzlewit 2

A first printing of the Tauchnitz Edition of Martin Chuzzlewit

Like all Tauchnitz editions, it was published as a paperback, but the tradition on the continent was that many of the buyers would have the books privately bound by a book-binder.   It is very rare for early editions to survive in paperback form, but easier to find copies in a variety of private bindings.   Unfortunately most bookbinders would discard the paper covers, and often the half-title as well, which provided the only reliable evidence to identify first printings.   So many of the remaining copies of ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ in the Tauchnitz Edition cannot be reliably identified as being from that very first printing in 1843/1844.

Martin Chuzzlewit volume 1 title page

Title page of the first printing

Certainly if the publisher’s name on the title page is shown as ‘Bernhard Tauchnitz’ rather than ‘Bernh. Tauchnitz Jun.’, it is not a first printing, and comes from 1852 or later.  If the title page refers to ‘Copyright edition’ rather than ‘Edition sanctioned by the author’, again it cannot be a first printing and comes at the earliest from 1846, when the first copyright treaty between Britain and Germany came into force.   So first printings must show ‘Bernh. Tauchnitz Jun.’ and ‘sanctioned by the author’ on the title page.  But there is no way at present of telling whether more than one early printing share these features, so the only way of being absolutely sure that a book is a first printing, is if the original paperback covers survive.

Martin Chuzzlewit volume 1 bookplate

Fortunately there is at least one copy where they have survived, and it’s a rather unusual copy.  It seems to have been acquired by a circulating library in the town of Solothurn in Northern Switzerland, effectively a small business that acquired books and lent them out for a fee.  The German term is ‘Journalzirkel und Leih-bibliothek’, which seems to suggest that it circulated journals or magazines as well as lending books – almost a cross between a library and a reading group.   The books are in a rough binding and the first volume has their bookplate inside the front cover.   Crucially it also has the original paper covers bound in. The back cover shows a list of the other books printed in the Tauchnitz Edition, and includes only those books printed before December 1843.  The reference to ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ in the list mentions only volume 1 as having been printed.  The similar list on the back of volume 2 refers naturally to both volumes and also includes a further 5 volumes printed between December 1843 and July 1844.   This looks to me like fairly conclusive evidence that both volumes are from the earliest printing, and in particular that volume 1 pre-dates any UK edition other than the monthly parts, and any other edition in book form anywhere in the world.

Martin Chuzzlewit volume 1 front cover and bookplate

Martin Chuzzlewit volume 1 back cover   Martin Chuzzlewit volume 2 back cover

The back covers of both volumes – more titles listed on volume 2

Volume 2 does not have the library bookplate, although it does have the same binding and the library number on the cover.  Instead it has an ex-libris bookplate for ‘Valentin Nueschi’, who presumably acquired the book from the library when they no longer wanted it.  Circulating libraries had to be responsive to consumer preferences, acquiring the latest novels and selling on those that were seeing less demand.

Martin Chuzzlewit volume 2 bookplate

The firm that ran the library, Jent & Gassmann, seems also to have been a small publishing firm and linked to the printing and publishing firm of Gassmann, founded in Solothurn in 1780, and still existing today, now run by the 7th generation of the Gassmann family.   They are presumably proud of their family’s history, but may not be aware of the small but significant part they played in the publishing history of Charles Dickens.

The German Albatross editions

In 1938 Albatross was riding high, publishing about 50 books a year under the Albatross brand and another 50 or so under the Tauchnitz brand.  There were some problems in operating in Germany under a Nazi regime, but the business was an undoubted success, and there was clearly a market for English literature on the European continent.  They were about to launch a new series of Albatross Giants, for novels that were too long for the main series.   But the market for novels in the original language was inevitably limited, so it was a fairly natural extension to think of publishing English language novels in translation.

A single Albatross edition in German had appeared much earlier, in 1934, but that had been a one-off, a prestige publication to mark the release of a previously unpublished Dickens manuscript.   There was no attempt at the time to follow this up with other German language publications, and it was not until 1939 that a series was launched under the title ‘Deutscher Albatros’.   Even then, the books were not published by Albatross themselves, but by the publisher W. Spemann in Stuttgart.   There was certainly still some involvement by Albatross though, and the books were printed by Brandstetter in Leipzig, who was not only the printer for both Albatross and Tauchnitz, but also at this point the owner of Tauchnitz.  In recognition of this, after a first volume published only in Stuttgart, the title pages of the remaining pre-war volumes show the place of publication as Stuttgart and Leipzig.

Deutscher Albatros 1 Mein Vater das Genie paperback

The first book, ‘Mein Vater das Genie’ was a translation of a book that had earlier appeared as Tauchnitz volume 5286.  It was published in paperback, in a similar format to the standard Albatross and Tauchnitz editions, although with an illustrated cover, which is actually an integral dustwrapper, folding over plain card covers.  Advertising on the flap announced a further 7 books to be published, all translations of books that had appeared in either the Albatross or Tauchnitz series.   Just three of these were published before the outbreak of war a few months later and as far as I can tell all three appeared only as hardbacks.

Deutscher Albatros 4 Mekkapilger

A pre-war hardback edition – volume 4 in the series

After the war, another one of the books from the original list was published in 1946, although with some noticeable differences.  ‘Encore for love’ by Katherine Dunlap had appeared as Tauchnitz volume 5313 in 1938 and a translation with the title ‘Glückliche Tage auf Schloss Boisbrault’ was announced in 1939.   By the time it appeared in 1946 as volume 5 of the series, the title had changed to ‘Und noch einmal Liebe’.   Brandstetter, whose premises had been destroyed in a bombing raid in 1943, was no longer the printer, and the title page now again refers only to Stuttgart.

Deutscher Albatros 5 Und noch einmal Liebe dustwrapper

Was this post-war publication approved by Brandstetter, who presumably held the copyright, or by Albatross whose brand and logo were being used?   Or was it just resuming work that had been planned before the war, as if nothing had changed?  At more or less the same time, rival Albatross and Tauchnitz firms, in Paris and in Hamburg, were publishing from the Tauchnitz backlist with probably little recognition of Brandstetter’s rights.   Was Spemann a third firm doing much the same?

A sixth book in the series, ‘Silber in Burma’, again one that had been previously announced, was published in 1948, and at least two of the pre-war titles were re-printed around the same time.  The two remaining unpublished books from the pre-war list are again announced, to be published in 1949, but I can find no evidence that they actually appeared.   Were sales disappointing, or had Wolfgang Brandstetter asserted his rights, as he seems to have done with the Tauchnitz Hamburg operation?

Oh, Oh, Oh what a lovely war!

There’s been no shortage of World War I plays recently.    After seeing Regeneration in October, followed by ‘The Christmas Truce’ in December, we’ve now been to see the grand-daddy of them all – ‘Oh what a lovely war’ at the Theatre Royal, Bath in a production by Terry Johnson that comes from Stratford East, where it was originally created in 1963.

At least with this play there’s no doubt where it stands, and there’s none of the risk of over-sentimentality that hung over ‘The Christmas Truce’.  The shocking statistics of the war are regularly run on an electronic ticker tape across the stage and despite the jauntiness implicit in staging it as a music hall show, it’s always a subversive jauntiness ready to undermine any hint of patriotism, sentimentality or sanctimoniousness with a vulgar comment or a hard statistic.

'Oh What A Lovely War' Musical performed at the Theatre Royal Stratford E15, London, UK

It probably seemed much more subversive in 1963 than it does now.   The image of lions led by donkeys has since become the standard view of the First World War, and we have no difficulty in imagining that the officer class were callous and out of touch, or that businessmen were profiteering from the war.   But the bigger difference may be that a good half of the audience then would have had personal memories of the war, as well as familiarity with the music hall tradition and all the old songs.  Now it’s in danger of appearing like a quaint period piece, rather than a biting satire, despite efforts to maintain its relevance that included a reference to donkeys that cut to a picture of Nigel Farage, and an interruption to the curtain calls to remind us that the ‘game of war’ is still being played.


There was plenty to like in the production, with some strong acting, great singing, some very funny scenes and the occasional emotional tug.   I thought some of the scenes with the pierrots rather lacked energy, but there was plenty of vitality elsewhere.  The incomprehensible sergeant major was a great laugh, as was the incomprehension between the French and British generals, and the stylised football game between Germans and Brits worked rather better than the real kick-about on stage in ‘The Christmas Truce’.

Tauchnitz in Hamburg – a post-war stutter

Before the Second World War, Max Christian Wegner and John Holroyd-Reece had worked together in Paris to launch Albatross, first in competition to the old-established firm of Tauchnitz, and then to run the two companies as a joint operation.   Wegner seems to have been more in control of the editorial side in the early years, but relations between the two may have soured, and in 1936 he moved from Paris to Hamburg, taking over the sales and distribution business from Kurt Enoch.  From that point on, Holroyd-Reece ran the editorial side of the business from his home and office on the Ile de la Cité.

When the war came, the two found themselves on opposite sides.   Holroyd-Reece had been born in Germany as Johann Hermann Riess, but had become British and fled to London, with the Nazis appropriating the business and appointing a German manager to run it.   After the war, he re-launched the business from the same offices, although he himself continued to live in London.

Wegner meanwhile set up in effective competition, using the Tauchnitz brand from Hamburg.  His short-term ambitions were relatively modest, and by 1948 he had re-issued about 10 of the previous Tauchnitz books in a new series, with no new publications at all.  Those 10 were selected from the more than 5000 previously published by Tauchnitz.  On the face of it, it’s quite odd to publish them as a new series, rather than under their original Tauchnitz series numbers, but it probably reflects the lack of clarity over rights to the Tauchnitz brand and copyrights.  Wegner had no ownership of the original Tauchnitz firm and had simply created a new company, Tauchnitz Edition GmbH in Hamburg, taking advantage of the uncertainty over property rights in post-war Germany, as Holroyd-Reece was doing from Paris.

Tauchnitz New Series 2 Saint Joan   Tauchnitz New Series 3 The good earth

The post-war conditions in Germany however meant that the books were printed on poor quality paper and did not look attractive, either in comparison with the pre-war publications or with some of the same books being issued from Paris under the Albatross brand.  Perhaps not surprisingly they don’t seem to have been a great commercial success.

Of even more concern for Wegner though was that by 1948 Wolfgang Brandstetter, the owner of the firm Oscar Brandstetter, had succeeded in re-establishing his ownership rights over Tauchnitz.   Wegner was effectively forced into a short term partnership with Brandstetter as joint Managing Director.   As well as extending the series further to an eventual total of 18 titles, they also created a new Students’ Series aimed at German schools, again using texts that had already been published by Tauchnitz in its pre-war Students’ Series.

Tauchnitz Students Series Hamburg 1   Tauchnitz Students Series Hamburg 2

The partnership between Wegner and Brandstetter was short-lived, and by 1950 Wegner was moving on again, forced out of Tauchnitz for the second time in his career.   The Tauchnitz name and business was sold off, although the Students’ Series continued for several more years under a Brandstetter imprint.

The end of Albatross: not with a bang but a whimper

The attempt to revive Albatross after the Second World War lasted only 3 or 4 years, from 1947 to 1950.  In fact most of the new works published in this period, at least in English, came in 1947.  After that only a handful of new books were added to the main Albatross series, although it continued to re-issue books published before the war, and it also diversified into books in other languages.

Albatross had been very successful as a publisher before the war, both in economic terms, and in literary terms, offering the first European publication to a succession of major novels by writers such as James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Robert Graves and Evelyn Waugh as well as crime writers like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.  For much of that period it had been led by John Holroyd-Reece, who was also responsible for the post-war revival.  Why could he not continue the record of success?

Albatross 514 Grandma called it carnal  Albatross 516 The legacy (post-war)

Volume 514 (pre-war) and volume 516 (post-war)

The business re-started more or less where it had stopped eight years previously at the outbreak of war.   The last books to be published had been numbered up to volume 514 and then volume 518, with 515 to 517 not appearing.   After the war, the numbering re-started from 550, but three volumes with earlier numbers also appeared (516, 517 and 521), presumably because they were about to be published with those numbers when war intervened.   It’s almost as if somebody just dusted off the old files and went back to where they were.

In that first year of the re-launch, a total of 27 books were added to the series – not quite up to the rate at which books were being published before the war, but respectable enough.  A significant number of volumes from the pre-war Albatross series were also reprinted, as well as a selection of pre-war Tauchnitz volumes in Albatross branding.  It seems clear though that sales were not up to expectations and a high proportion of the books languished in warehouses.

Albatross 559 Brideshead Revisited

Albatross 559 published in 1947

In literary terms, the highlight of the publishing programme was ‘Brideshead revisited’, newly published in the UK in 1945.   Virginia Woolf’s pre-war novel ‘The years’ was also included, and there are books by Rosamond Lehmann, Agatha Christie, Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves, but the list lacks some of the sparkle of the pre-war years.  Despite the backing of Collins, there was no return for the Albatross Crime Club, and only a small number of crime titles were added to the main series.

With sales disappointing, the new publishing programme had to be cut back drastically, and I can only track down about three new titles published in 1948, another three in 1949 and then six in 1950 before the series finally expired.

Quite why it failed, is hard to say with confidence, 65 years later.   But conditions in the market had changed irreversibly.   The massive success of Penguin, with their print runs of 100,000 copies, may have made it all but impossible for a small scale publisher specialising only in the Continental European market, to compete.  Obtaining the agreement of authors, their agents or their UK publishers, to sell European paperback rights separately, may also have been increasingly difficult, when the market could be adequately covered by Penguin or other UK paperback publishers.

The business did have some success with foreign language translations of English novels, and bound editions of the Albatross titles (possibly unsold stock re-bound?) continued to be sold in Europe, possibly for several more years after 1950, although it’s hard to be sure.  But for the most part, by 1950 the game was up.  The Albatross brand was about to disappear, followed not long after by that of Tauchnitz, the business it had first vanquished and then revived.

Portuguese Albatross P3 O caso dos suicidos  Spanish Albatross 6 Jim se va a su casa

Portuguese and Spanish Albatross editions from around 1948

The Pickwick Pirates

The Tauchnitz ‘Collection of British Authors’ started in late 1841 with ‘Pelham’ by Bulwer Lytton.  Neither the book nor the author are much remembered today.   But it was followed by what has surely become one of the best-known and best-loved books of the entire 19th century, written by the century’s most famous author.   ‘The posthumous papers of the Pickwick Club’, or as it’s better known today, ‘The Pickwick Papers’ by Charles Dickens was published in two volumes as volumes 2 and 3 of the Tauchnitz series.

Tauchnitz 2 half-title recto  Tauchnitz 3 half-title recto

Dickens was only 24 when he started to write the Pickwick Papers, which appeared in monthly instalments over 1836 and 1837, with the first publication in book form in 1837.   It was a publishing sensation in Britain and not surprisingly, rapidly attracted the attention of continental publishers.  By the time Tauchnitz published it at the start of 1842 (or possibly late 1841), it had already appeared in English language editions published by Galignani and by Baudry in Paris and by Friedrich Fleischer in Leipzig.  It had also been published in German language translations by Weber in Leipzig (from 1837) and by at least two other publishers (Eduard Leibrock and Vieweg und Sohn).

Tauchnitz 2 frontispiece

Frontispiece portrait of Dickens

All of these, and the first Tauchnitz publication too, were pirated.  There was no international copyright agreement and none of those publishers would have paid Dickens a penny for the right to publish his work.   Although Tauchnitz went on to make his name and fortune by offering payment to authors, notably Dickens, for the right to publish authorised editions, he too started off by effectively stealing their work.   He went on to publish 5 further pirated volumes by Dickens, before finally offering payment for the publication of ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ in 1844.

Tauchnitz 2 title page

First and second editions have no reference to ‘Copyright Edition’ on the title page

Tauchnitz 2 final page

Text finishes on page 444, followed by Contents on pages 445-446

So the earliest Tauchnitz editions of The Pickwick Papers carry no reference to authorisation on the title page.   As the book went on to be reprinted many times by Tauchnitz over the next 100 years, later printings are described as ‘copyright edition’, and the vast majority of copies now found are of this type.   But at least the first two editions are distinguished by having no mention of copyright on the title page.   The first edition had 446 pages in volume 1 (and 427 in volume 2), but the first volume was quickly re-set with 432 pages, so few copies have survived of the very first printing.  I have one in my collection and there are two copies in the Pressler collection, now in the National Library of Scotland.  The bibliography records no other copies, although there are surely some out there.   It’s certainly possible though that not a single copy in the original paperback state has survived.   If anyone has a paperback copy, or even has ever seen one, please let me know.