Monthly Archives: May 2016
The firm of Heinemann & Balestier is little remembered these days, although the Heinemann part is familiar. The publisher William Heinemann still exists at least in name, as part of Penguin Random House, and the Heinemann name lives on too through its educational publishing arm, owned by Pearson. It’s come a long way from the publishing firm founded in Covent Garden in 1890 by William Heinemann, at the age of 27.
Shortly afterwards he formed a partnership with another ambitious young man, only a year or two older. Wolcott Balestier was an American writer who had come over to London in 1888 as agent of the publisher John W. Lovell. He seems by all accounts to have been a remarkable man and a very charismatic one. If his name is less remembered today, it is perhaps because he never had the time to go on and establish it in the way that Heinemann did. But in London he was quickly able to form a range of literary contacts, notably including Rudyard Kipling and Henry James.
Kipling became a close friend and married Wolcott’s sister Carrie, who had come over from America to keep house for him. Wolcott was able to help Kipling with getting his works copyrighted and published in the US, overcoming the piracy of literary works that was still common at the time. Indeed his own firm John W. Lovell, publisher of Lovell’s Library, had been one of the pirates, publishing cheap reprints of English novels in the US, without authorisation.
Balestier’s mission to London was in part an attempt to obtain authorisations from authors in advance of anticipated copyright agreements, much as Tauchnitz had done 50 years earlier. He seems also though to have promoted other strategies, including offering himself as a co-author to provide American copyright protection (an offer apparently refused by Mrs. Humphry Ward), or printing a small number of copies in the US to establish copyright there, in advance of the UK publication.
Together Heinemann and Balestier decided to mount a challenge to the dominance of Tauchnitz in publishing continental editions in English. Throughout most of the 1870s and 1880s, Tauchnitz had faced a varying level of competition from the ‘Asher’s Collection of English Authors’. This had originally been launched by the Berlin firm of A. Asher & Co., but was later taken on by a series of other publishers including Grädener & Richter in Hamburg. Although at certain periods this had been serious competition for Tauchnitz, it had faded by the late 1880s and Tauchnitz had been left largely unchallenged.
The firm of Heinemann and Balestier launched their new series, ‘The English Library’ from Leipzig itself, the home of Tauchnitz, in 1891, although the real base was probably in London. To start the series, Balestier was able to draw on his friendship with Kipling, to publish ‘The light that failed’ as volume 1, and an earlier collection of short stories, ‘The phantom rickshaw’ as volume 7. Kipling, who was at this stage only 25 himself, even younger than the two publishers, had already had one book, ‘Plain tales from the hills’, published by Tauchnitz in 1890, but had not formed the long-term relationship with Tauchnitz that many older writers had.
The Irish writer Margaret Hungerford was another matter. By 1891 she was a well-established and very popular writer, who had already had over 20 books published by Tauchnitz. Two of her books appeared in the Tauchnitz series in early 1891, but her next novel, ‘April’s lady’ was published as volumes 4 and 5 of the English Library, to be followed by another five of her books over the next 2 years.
She was one of the first to abandon Tauchnitz, but she was followed by many others. Given the dominant position the firm had had in English language publishing, it is hardly surprising that almost all of the writers to appear in the Heinemann & Balestier series had already had books published by Tauchnitz. Amongst the writers to defect were Rider Haggard, Hall Caine, W.D. Howells and Arthur Conan Doyle. For several, such as Florence Marryat, Mrs. Alexander, Walter Besant, Helen Mathers and Margaret Oliphant, Tauchnitz was spurned for a second time, as they had earlier had books published in the Asher’s series. Did this show an underlying dissatisfaction with Tauchnitz, or was it simply a question of money?
If Tauchnitz was effectively being outbid, he had already shown more than once in fighting off Asher’s, that he had both the determination and the financial strength to fight back. He was also keen to use his established contacts with authors and his no doubt considerable charm. Writing to one of his longest-established and best-selling authors, Charlotte Yonge, in March 1891, a few months before the launch of the English Library, Tauchnitz had this to say: ‘… At the same time permit me to mention, that a rival undertaking will be started against our Continental Series. It came perhaps already to your knowledge by insertions in different papers, which however are not correct, as almost all our first-rate authors remain attached to us and we sincerely hope that you will be among them. It will give us always a great satisfaction to include your forthcoming books in our Collection, always at terms quite convenient to you.’
There was perhaps an element of wishful thinking here given the number of authors who did defect, but Charlotte Yonge was one of those who remained. As when Tauchnitz had been faced with the first challenge from Asher’s Collection 20 years earlier, he responded by redoubling his efforts. From publishing around 70 volumes a year, the number published in 1891 increased to just over 100, in comparison to the 75 or so issued by Heinemann and Balestier in just the later part of the year. In 1892 the two firms were roughly level at around eighty volumes each, but the challenger was already fading.
In December 1891 Wolcott Balestier had died suddenly from typhoid fever in Dresden, a week before his 30th birthday. His death probably robbed Heinemann & Balestier not only of his youthful dynamism but also of his editorial and literary contacts, although William Heinemann himself must have had considerable strengths in both areas. The publishing programme of the firm in 1892 remained a strong one, and included various works as a tribute to Balestier.
For the 100th volume in the series, they published his early work, ‘The average woman’, together with a Biographical Sketch written by Henry James. This publication also announced as ‘In the press’, two other works. Volume 150 of the series was ‘The Naulakha’ a novel on which Kipling and Balestier had collaborated, with Kipling writing scenes in India and Balestier scenes in America. The other work referred to was Balestier’s novel ‘Benefits forgot’, published posthumously in London by Heinemann and also in New York by Appleton, but I have not been able to find any evidence to confirm its appearance in the English Library. The series did though publish Kipling’s ‘Barrack-room ballads, and other verses’, which opens with a poem and a dedication to Balestier.
Without Balestier, and facing a competitor as formidable and as financially strong as Tauchnitz, the challenge of The English Library could not be sustained. The volumes issued in 1893 fell to only around 20 and most of the authors returned to Tauchnitz, later including even Kipling. A smaller number of volumes were published in 1894 and then intermittently right through to at least 1903, although rarely more than 2 or 3 a year. Might it have been different if Wolcott Balestier had survived?
As it turned out, it was the last great competitive challenge for Baron Tauchitz himself. By the time he too died in 1895, he could be confident of having seen off this competitor as he had so many previous competitors. He had run his firm for almost 60 years, publishing over 3000 volumes in his ‘Collection of British Authors’, and left it once again in a dominant position in the continental European market.
I’ll come back in another post to some of the more bibliographical points about the Heineman & Balestier series and to a slightly odd later revival of it under the imprint of F. Brockhaus of Leipzig. (Follow this link for part II)
My first post on this subject covered the early George Eliot novels published in Tauchnitz from 1859 to 1863. After this early burst of creativity in her writing career, there was a longer pause before her next novel, ‘ Felix Holt the Radical’, was published in the UK in 1866. The continental edition did not immediately follow and Eliot had to write to Blackwood, her UK publisher, in February 1867 to pass on comments of ‘deep regret that Felix Holt is not published in the Tauchnitz Edition’.
Tauchnitz had perhaps hesitated following disappointing early sales of ‘Romola’, but he needed no second prompting. Terms were agreed the following month and ‘Felix Holt’ appeared in May 1867 as volumes 897 and 898 of the Tauchnitz series. The first printing is distinguished by a list of Eliot’s five previously published titles on the half-title verso of volume 2. Later printings list other titles published later than 1867.
Perhaps Eliot remembered the initial lack of enthusiasm from Tauchnitz over ‘Felix Holt’ when her next novel, Middlemarch’ was published in 1870. She might also have had in mind that Tauchnitz had purchased the rights to ‘The lifted veil’, but had still not published it. Or perhaps we need no reason other than money to explain why she decided to abandon Tauchnitz and entrust her novel to a untested publisher launching a new series.
A. Asher & Co. was an established German publisher in Berlin, run by Albert Cohn, a literary scholar and Anglophile, but it had no track record in publishing English literature in the original language. It must have paid heavily to acquire the rights to ‘Middlemarch’, probably significantly more than Tauchnitz had ever offered, and used it as the basis to launch a series in competition to Tauchnitz. To recoup its costs, Asher split Middlemarch into 8 separate volumes and charged a premium price for them. For a period it was a very significant competitor and tempted many authors away, but in the end most of them, including Eliot, returned to the Tauchnitz fold.
In 1874, Asher’s Collection, by then under the imprint of Albert Cohn, also published ‘The legend of Jubal’ and other poems. By 1876 though, when ‘Daniel Deronda’ was published, the series had been taken on by a new publisher and was no longer a serious competitor for Tauchnitz. It was probably at this point unable to offer the same level of advance payment, whereas the generosity of Tauchnitz had been stimulated by the loss of Middlemarch.
In a section of George Eliot’s letters, referring to the continental edition of Middlemarch, there is a footnote in the Tauchnitz Edition to record that ‘The author was subsequently induced to publish “Daniel Deronda” and her succeeding works again in the Tauchnitz Editions. Baron Tauchnitz paid £250 for “Daniel Deronda”.’. Does the eagerness of Tauchnitz to record this betray his pain at the loss of Middlemarch, or at the subsequent cost of recovering the author for his series? Certainly the amount paid was considerably higher than the £50 he had paid for Adam Bede, and the £100 for ‘The mill on the Floss’, although these were when Eliot was much less well-known.
On the other hand, it’s a long novel, and Tauchnitz could cover his costs by stretching it out into four volumes, and so it appeared in December 1876 as volumes 1617 to 1620 of the Tauchnitz series. No first printing copies in the original wrappers are known to have survived, but privately bound copies in the original state are less difficult to find, listing 6 other titles by Eliot on the half-title verso of volume 2.
Deronda was the last of Eliot’s novels, but not the last of her writing, and first there was some unfinished business for Tauchnitz. He had bought ‘The lifted veil’ back in 1859, but still not published it, and now saw the opportunity to put it together with another earlier work, ‘Brother Jacob’. The two appeared together as volume 1732 in April 1878, and were followed in June 1879 by ‘Impressions of Theocrastus Such’ as volume 1828. Paperback first printings of both are pictured below, and bound copies are identified by listing 7 titles and 8 titles respectively on the half-title verso, in each case only the titles previously published.
First printings in original wrappers of ‘The lifted veil / Brother Jacob’ (above – from March 1878) and ‘Impressions of Theophrastus Such’ (below – from June 1879)
Eliot died in 1880, but interest in her work and her life continued. As well as continuing to reprint earlier works, Tauchnitz in 1884 (volume 2229) published ‘Essays and Leaves from a note-book’ – mostly early essays that had been published in the ‘Westminster Review’. The first edition lists 9 previous works by Eliot on the half-title.
Then the following year Tauchnitz published in four volumes ‘George Eliot’s Life as related in her letters and journals’, edited by John Cross, the husband she had married shortly before her death. This is volumes 2318 to 2321 of the series and as it is the last of her works to be published, all ten previous titles are listed on the half-title (of the second volume). There is therefore no easy way of recognising later reprints of privately bound copies, although it’s likely that it was reprinted.
Overall from 1859 to 1885, Tauchnitz published 22 volumes of George Eliot, including almost all her significant works other than Middlemarch, which remains an unsightly gap in the record.
George Eliot’s works in the Tauchnitz Edition, in the usual mix from luxurious private bindings to scruffy (but rare) copies in the original wrappers
There’s still one minor footnote to record. In 1886 Tauchnitz launched a new ‘Students’ Series for School, College and Home’, made up of English texts with German footnotes and and a German introduction. He chose ‘The mill on the Floss’ as volume 2 of this series, although it is considerably longer than most other volumes and sold at a premium price of M1.70 for the paperback edition. Like most of the George Eliot works it was reprinted regularly over the next 40 years.
I should be clear up front. ‘Middlemarch’ does not appear in the Tauchnitz series. It’s probably the single most famous novel from the whole of 19th century or early 20th century English literature that never appeared in a Tauchnitz Edition. The story of how and why it went missing can be found here. George Eliot without Middlemarch may seem a bit like Hamlet without the Prince, but the author of ‘Silas Marner’ and ‘The mill on the Floss’ amongst others, would deserve her place in history even without Middlemarch.
The first of Eliot’s works to be published in book form was ‘Scenes of Clerical Life’, reprinting a series of articles from Blackwood’s Magazine. It first appeared in the UK in 1858 and the two-volume continental edition followed in February 1859 as volumes 462 and 463 of the Tauchnitz series. Tauchnitz had offered £30 in November 1858 for the continental rights, as recorded in Eliot’s letters, later also published in a Tauchnitz Edition.
As always the Tauchnitz volumes were issued as paperbacks, although no copy of the 1st printing is known to have survived in its original wrappers. I believe the copy pictured above is the earliest known paperback copy. The back wrappers advertise the 15th edition of the Tauchnitz English-German dictionary, which date them to 1864 – 1865 and other titles advertised in the series confirm a date of 1864. Most other surviving copies have been privately bound, and the original wrappers discarded. They then can’t be dated as precisely, but examples of the first printing should list no other titles by Eliot on the half-title verso.
In July of 1859 Tauchnitz paid Eliot a further £87 10s, made up of £50 for ‘Adam Bede’ and £37 10s for her novella, ‘The lifted veil’. ‘Adam Bede’ was published immediately as volumes 482 and 483, and reprinted many times by Tauchnitz over the next 80 years, but ‘The lifted veil’ was held back and did not appear in the series until almost 20 years later. It seems very untypical of Tauchnitz to pay for a work and not publish it, but ‘The lifted veil’ is untypical of George Eliot, so perhaps it was appropriate. It was also too short to fill a volume of the Tauchnitz Edition on it own, so perhaps had to wait for a suitable accompaniment.
As always, copies of ‘Adam Bede’ in the original wrappers are scarce. The less-than-perfect copy pictured above is certainly very close to a first printing, with the list of other titles on the wrappers going up to ‘Barchester Towers’ by Trollope (volumes 491 and 492), published in October 1859. It may be that again this is the earliest known surviving copy, although the Tauchnitz bibliography lists two other early copies (in Budapest and in Western Ontario) advertising the 11th edition of the Tauchnitz English-German dictionary, which puts them no later than the end of 1860.
It’s interesting to look at Eliot’s choice of a male pseudonym in the Tauchnitz context. In 1859, when her first works appeared, around 40% of all novels published by Tauchnitz were by female authors and by 1865 the women were at parity, if not in a small majority – a position that they maintained for most of the next 20 years. So it was clearly not that she would have had any difficulty in getting published under her own name.
But there was undoubtedly a difference in the type of novel published by female authors, which tended to be light romances, or more often, sensation novels – the style popularised by Mary Braddon and Mrs. Henry Wood, as well as Wilkie Collins. Eliot had published an anonymous essay in 1856 attacking ‘Silly novels by Lady novelists’ and clearly did not want her own work to be categorised in this way.
Despite sitting on ‘The lifted veil’, Tauchnitz was keen to publish all of the novels of George Eliot as soon as they were available. ‘The mill on the Floss’ appeared in April 1860, only a matter of weeks after the first UK publication, as volumes 509 and 510. The price paid increased again to £100, presumably on the basis of the successful sales of ‘Adam Bede’. ‘Silas Marner’ followed in May 1861 as volume 550 and then ‘Romola’ in December 1863 as volumes 682 and 683.
For all of these volumes, the first printings according to the bibliography should not list any other titles by Eliot on the half-title verso, as well as conforming on other points too detailed to mention here. However it’s worth noting that for other Tauchnitz volumes issued around the same time, versions with no other titles listed, and versions with all previous titles listed, seem to have been issued more or less simultaneously. A version of ‘Silas Marner’ exists listing only the three Eliot works published ahead of it, and a version of ‘Romola’ listing only the four previously published titles.
It’s possible, particularly in the case of ‘Romola’, that both versions were published simultaneously. However my paperback copy (again I think the earliest known copy) shows no later published titles in the advertising on the wrappers, so is almost certainly a first printing, and it has no other titles listed.
‘Romola’ was not as commercially successful in the UK as Eliot’s earlier novels, and the same may have been true on the continent in the first few years. Early copies are relatively scarce. In the long run though, it was almost certainly the most successful in sales terms of all the Eliot novels published by Tauchnitz, because it was taken up for sale as a travel souvenir by the Italian book trade. A series of Tauchnitz Editions, all with Italian settings, were sold in large numbers in Italy, in custom made vellum bindings, often richly decorated, and extra-illustrated with albumen tourist postcards bound in. They seem to date mostly from around the 1880s, so are almost always reprints, although as the half-titles are rarely bound in, they are impossible to date accurately. ‘Romola’, with its Florentine setting, seems to exist mostly in bindings by G. Giannini in Florence, with postcards of Florence bound in.
By the end of 1863 (and the end of this first part), the Tauchnitz series contained a total of 9 volumes by George Eliot, and covered all four of her novels up to that date. There is some evidence of early reprints, but from what evidence there is, I suspect that sales were respectable, but not outstanding in the early years. Tauchnitz probably sold enough to make them profitable, which may have been as few as 2,000 copies or so, but the real value came from the fact that they continued to sell, year after year. There were certainly plenty of reprints later on, and Tauchnitz bought the copyright of almost all the books he published with a single advance payment rather than ongoing royalties. So it was books that generated continuing sales that became the most profitable over the long term, and Eliot’s novels were certainly in this category.
I’ll come back to the story of George Eliot’s later works in a second post.