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

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Posted on March 29, 2015, in Vintage Paperbacks and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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