Author Archives: jojoal
The story of the relationships between Tauchnitz and Hitler’s Third Reich is a fascinating one, covered in some detail in Michele Troy’s 2017 book ‘Strange Bird. The Albatross Press and the Third Reich’. The rise to power of the Nazi party in Germany largely coincided with the collapse of Tauchnitz into the arms of its much more modern rival, Albatross. From 1934 until the outbreak of war, the two firms were run together under conditions that were extraordinarily challenging.
For almost a century, Tauchnitz had successfully spread both the English language and Anglo-American culture across Europe. Under Albatross control, and even with a Nazi Government in Germany that was publicly hostile to much of the literature that Tauchnitz and Albatross were publishing, they continued to do so. Michele Troy’s book shows how the Government’s need for foreign currency earnings often trumped ideological concerns.
Books by Jewish authors such as Louis Golding and G.B. Stern and by banned writers like D.H. Lawrence and Aldous Huxley, were printed in Leipzig and exported across Europe throughout the 1930s. Editorial control of the combined business was based in Paris and the more controversial books appeared in the Albatross series rather than Tauchnitz, but production of both series was carried out in Germany by the Tauchnitz owners, Brandstetter. Yes, there was an element of self-censorship and certain books could not be sold within Germany itself, but still it is surprising what they managed to achieve.
Astonishingly, even after the outbreak of war in 1939, both Albatross and Tauchnitz were able to continue selling English Literature in continental Europe, although the flow of new titles inevitably dried up. Even after the entry of German troops into Paris in June 1940, and the appointment of a Nazi custodian of the Albatross business, sales continued and the business continued to make a profit.
But the Nazis also had another purpose in mind for Tauchnitz. What it had previously done for English, they reasoned, it could now do for the German language and culture.
The result was a series of German language novels under the heading of ‘Der Deutsche Tauchnitz’. Instead of the usual notice saying that copies were ‘ not to be introduced into the British Empire’, these books now say ‘Nur zum Verkauf ausserhalb des Grossdeutschen Reiches’, or ‘only for sale outside the Greater German Empire’. They were not sold in Germany or the areas annexed into Greater Germany, including Austria, the Sudetenland and Alsace / Lorraine. But they were for sale in Belgium, Holland, France and other areas where the Nazis wanted to spread a Germanic culture.
In this context it’s worth remembering that the Tauchnitz editions in English were not launched by the British, or even by a Briton, in order to spread British culture. They were launched by a German to meet an existing market demand. Tauchnitz Editions in German though were very definitely launched by the Germans to spread German culture. Der Deutsche Tauchnitz was not a product launched to meet market demand. It was a product seeking a market.
That was not easy in wartime Europe. If there had been a natural market for German novels in France or the Netherlands, Tauchnitz might have been amongst the first to launch one, much earlier. The market for English language novels in peacetime had depended on British and American travellers in Europe, as well as on the significant number of speakers of English as a second language. But in wartime there was no demand from tourists and the number of people with German as a second language good enough to read novels, was probably lower than for English. So even without taking into account the natural resentment that many people would have had towards the occupiers, it’s apparent that the task would not have been easy.
The one natural market they did have was amongst the occupiers themselves. German soldiers in the occupied territories may have bought a relatively high proportion of the books that were sold. Certainly by one route or another, many of the copies found today are back in Germany. But that was not the point of these books. It was the local populations that were their target.
Physically the books look very like the pre-war Tauchnitz volumes in English. They have the same brightly coloured covers, colour-coded by genre, and they use the same circular symbol with a small crown over a ‘T’ that had been introduced shortly before the war. For the early editions there are dustwrappers in the same design as the book and the dustwrapper flaps have a short description of the book in English, German and French at the front and an explanation of the colour scheme at the back. Later on, these descriptions move to the inside of the covers, and the explanation of the colour scheme is dropped in favour of additional languages.
One small design change is to abandon the uniformity of style for the book titles on the front cover. Instead there is a profusion of different styles of lettering, giving each title some individuality within the constraints of an otherwise standard series design.
There is no price on the books themselves, or on the lists of titles inside, but the price quoted in ‘A strange bird’ is the equivalent of 1.2 Deutschmarks, which compares with a price of 2 DM for the pre-war Tauchnitz Editions in English. Start-up costs had been covered by the German Propaganda Ministry and Foreign Office, so that the books may have been sold more or less on a marginal cost basis. They may also have had quite long print runs to keep costs low, but with disappointing sales that led to a build-up of unsold stocks.
The series launched in April 1941 and had extended to 18 titles by the end of the year. Volume number 1 was ‘Effi Briest’ by Theodor Fontane, a classic German novel from a 19th century author, although not really typical of the rest of the series. Most of the books were by more modern authors and probably rather lighter, although there were a few other classics including Goethe’s ‘Faust’ and Wilhelm Hauff’s fairy tales. There are no dominant authors – in fact other than Goethe with two, no author seems to have more than one title published in the series. Readers were invited though to nominate their own suggestions for the series, using cards inserted in some of the books.
21 titles appeared in 1942, taking the series on to volume 139, although after volume 130 the dustwrappers were dropped, as they had been on paperbacks in Britain a year or two earlier. Wartime conditions were perhaps starting to bite and the quality of paper used began to deteriorate, although these are still relatively lavishly produced books in comparison with British paperbacks from the same era. Another twenty or so new titles were added in 1943 so that by early 1944 the series had reached volume 166.
Volume 164 was advertised in the list of titles as ‘Petja’ by Marissa von der Osten, although I have never seen a copy and I suspect it was never published. From here on, and not surprisingly given the progress of the war, things start to go rather downhill. I have seen no evidence of books numbered 167, 168, 169, 171 or 173 and I have been unable to find a copy of volume 174, which is advertised as Adalbert Stifter’s ‘Erzählungen’. Again it may well have never been published.
That leaves volumes 170, 172, 175 and 176 which certainly do exist, for a total of 69 confirmed volumes over a three year period from 1941 to 1944. On some of the later volumes though, I have seen examples where the phrase forbidding sales within the German Reich has been blacked out, presumably because access to other markets had been lost and copies had been repatriated to Germany towards the end, or after the end of the war.
Overall it seems unlikely that the series was a success in terms of its objective to spread German culture. It was not the only attempt though. Alongside the German language series, Tauchnitz also launched a series of French translations of German novels, including some of the same titles. I’ll come back to that another time.
Cecil John Street, the author behind the two pseudonyms of John Rhode and Miles Burton, was certainly prolific. Over a 35 year career writing detective novels from roughly 1925 to 1960, he wrote more or less continually at the rate of something like 4 books a year, to end with not far short of 150 novels to his name, or rather to his pseudonyms.
He was at the peak of his popularity in the 1930s and 1940s and I’ve written before about his books published in Services Editions for servicemen in the Second World War. They appeared as part of the long series of Services Editions from Collins White Circle, the books having been originally published in the Collins Crime Club series.
Collins also had a close connection with Albatross Books, the European publisher of English Language novels launched in 1932, to rival the long-established Tauchnitz business. Ian and William Collins were on the board of Albatross and were instrumental in the launch a year later of the Albatross Crime Club. All the titles for this series came from the Collins Crime Club and the books were initially printed for Albatross by Collins in Scotland.
John Rhode featured early in the series, with ‘The motor rally mystery’, a new Dr. Priestley novel, included in the first batch of titles. Numbering for the Crime Club titles started from 101 and ‘The motor rally mystery’ is number 105. ‘The Claverton mystery’ was not far behind at number 114, later in 1933, and ‘The Robthorne mystery’ at number 122, early in 1934.
The first two titles would originally have had a transparent dustwrapper, as on The Claverton Mystery above, although few of these survive and those that do are usually torn and tattered. Later issues had a paper dustwrapper in the same design as the book. Most of the early books in the series are not too difficult to find now, although the Rhode and Burton books seem to be a bit harder, and certainly more expensive than most other books in the series. I don’t think any of the books were reprinted, so all copies are first printings.
Each of the first three books was published in Albatross only very shortly after first hardback publication in the UK and long before any of them appeared in UK paperback editions. After that though, a gap was allowed to build up between first publication in the UK and publication in the Albatross series. So ‘Shot at dawn’, first published in the UK in 1934, didn’t appear in Albatross (as volume 136) until 1935. By the end of that year, with the Crime Club series having reached 45 volumes, there were still only four titles by John Rhode and none by Miles Burton.
That was to change though, as a rush of new titles started to appear in 1936. ‘Hendon’s first case’, another Rhode novel, came first as volume 148 of the series, followed by ‘The milk churn murder’, the first Burton title, as volume 150. From then on a pattern was established of issuing Rhode and Burton titles alternately. ‘Mystery at Olympia’ by Rhode appeared as volume 154 and ‘Death in the tunnel’ by Burton as volume 155, both still in 1936. Then in 1937, ‘Death at breakfast’ by Rhode as volume 161, ‘Murder of a chemist’ by Burton as volume 163, ‘In face of the verdict’ by Rhode as 167, ‘Where is Barbara Prentice?’ by Burton as 178 and ‘Death in the Hopfields’ by Rhode as 186.
Then, as far as I can tell, there was a bit of a pause, accompanied by a change of printer and a change in the numbering system. Volume numbers from 188 to 200 seem never to have been used, and all future Albatross Crime Club titles are numbered in the 400s and mixed in with Albatross Mystery Club titles. The Mystery Club had been launched in 1937 for books that didn’t fit into the Collins definition of what a Crime novel should be, with numbers starting at 401.
Numbers 401 to 409 are all Mystery Club titles published in 1937 and printed in Scotland. But from 410 onwards, Crime Club and Mystery Club titles alternate in a more or less regular pattern, and all are printed in Germany, starting in May 1938. In June ‘Death at the Club’ by Miles Burton appeared as volume 414 and then in September ‘Death on the Board’ by Rhode as volume 422. Volume 436 in April 1939 was ‘Murder in Crown Passage’ by Burton and finally, volume 440 was ‘Proceed with caution’ by Rhode. These later titles seem more difficult to find now, although I’m not clear whether this is because of lower print numbers or because of disruption caused by the war that was about to break out.
Certainly the war ended the series in late 1939 and the final tally of 11 John Rhode titles and 6 from Miles Burton gives a total of 17 books for Cecil Street, just ahead of Agatha Christie and more than for any other author in the Albatross Crime Club series.
The recent collapse of the Thomas Cook travel firm brings to an end a history of over 175 years, since the original Thomas Cook (1808 – 1892) founded the firm in 1841. In some ways and at some times in the past, Thomas Cook was not just a travel firm, it was the travel firm – the firm responsible for organising and popularising the idea of travel in the second half of the 19th century.
Many of the travellers in 19th century Europe, particularly the British, would have booked their travel with Thomas Cook. Many of them were also of course customers of Tauchnitz, the dominant publisher of English language books in continental Europe at the time. Bernhard Tauchnitz had founded his publishing firm in 1837, but it was in 1841, the same year that Thomas Cook set out in business, that he launched the ‘Collection of British Authors’, the series that was to make his fortune.
So it was fitting that when Thomas Cook (the firm) commissioned W. Fraser Rae to write a 50th anniversary history in 1891, the resulting book, ‘The business of travel’, should also appear in the Tauchnitz series. Corporate histories are not always easy to read or popular to sell, but if anyone was going to be interested in this one, it was likely to be travellers, particularly those whose travel had been arranged by the firm.
‘The business of travel’ appeared as volume 2802 of the Tauchnitz series in January 1892, with an additional introductory chapter written by the author for the Tauchnitz Edition. This chapter, like the rest of the book, lavishes praise on John Mason Cook, the then head of the firm, and rather brushes over the contribution of Thomas Cook, his father. Thomas Cook was at that point still alive, although he died later in 1892. There had been a big argument between father and son, which had led to the founder retiring from the business in 1878. Rae, the author of the history, clearly knew on which side his bread was buttered.
Although the Tauchnitz bibliography shows only one edition of Rae’s volume, a paperback copy of the book dated 1928 on the wrapper is recorded, and the hardback copy in my own collection may be even later, judging by the binding. So it seems it must have sold reasonably well over an extended period, almost until the firm’s centenary was approaching.
By the time that centenary came in 1941, the firm would have been in no mood to celebrate it, and even less likely to ask Tauchnitz to publish a history. But after the war there were various attempts to revive the Tauchnitz brand, including a series of 40 titles published from Stuttgart as numbers 101 to 140 of the ‘New Series’. Volume 127, published in 1953, was ‘The Thomas Cook Story’ by John Pudney, a book that had been published in the UK by Michael Joseph in the same year, although not commissioned by Thomas Cook. It appeared both in paperback and in hardback versions.
The Tauchnitz Stuttgart Editions were not a great success. Post-war market conditions were very different from those that had existed before the war. Amongst other things, the rise of Penguin had brought in a formidable new competitor, so the series was short-lived and sales were almost certainly disappointing. The books continued to be sold for several years after the flow of new titles stopped, presumably to dispose of a substantial level of unsold stock. ‘The Thomas Cook story’ is one of the few titles in this series that I have seen with a dustwrapper on the hardback edition, so it may be that it was added later to freshen up old stock.
In the search for a profitable market in the 1950s, Tauchnitz also looked again at the idea of publishing German translations of foreign books. John Pudney’s book was one of five books translated into German and appearing under the series title of ‘Der Deutsche Tauchnitz’. Rather unfortunately this was the same title that had been used for a series of German novels published under Nazi control during the war, for sale outside Germany, although there was really no connection between the two ventures.
The translation appeared in 1955 under the title ‘Alles inbegriffen’, meaning ‘everything included’ or ‘all-inclusive’. So far as I know it was published only in hardback and sported a brightly coloured dustwrapper. Again, given that the series ran to only five volumes, it seems unlikely that it was a best-seller.
The market for English language publishing in Continental Europe existed well before Tauchnitz came along in 1842. It was dominated by two large French publishers, Galignani and Baudry, both of which published the latest English novels without any authorisation or any payment to the author. But there was also a German publisher, Frederick Fleischer of Leipzig with an interest in the market.
Fleischer’s niche seems to have been publishing series of books by particular authors, starting with Edward Lytton Bulwer (later Bulwer-Lytton) in 1834. Bulwer was only 31 at the time, perhaps a bit young for a ‘Complete Works’, but he was at the height of his popularity with already several novels to his name. Fleischer launched the series with ‘Pelham’ (later to be the first novel in the Tauchnitz series as well) and followed up with another five volumes of the series in that first year.
By the end of 1935 Fleischer had more or less caught up with Bulwer Lytton’s published output to date and celebrated with his portrait and signature as a frontispiece to volume 10. This might well have reinforced the impression that the series had his authorisation, which it certainly didn’t.
The publisher would now have to wait for new works – not for long as Bulwer was a prolific writer, but in the meantime it was time to launch a new author. Fleischer now settled on Frederick Marryat, another popular and prolific novelist and particularly a writer of sea stories. He too was given the honour of a ‘complete works’ series, although not the honour of any payment.
Eight novels by Marryat were published in 1836 and three more in 1837 and 1838, taking the series to eleven volumes, while the Bulwer Lytton series gradually extended to 15 volumes over the same period.
But by 1838 there was a new literary star on the horizon. The Pickwick Papers, serialised in the UK in 1836/7 and published in book form at the end of 1837, had been a huge success. Charles Dickens was now the author everyone wanted to read and Fleischer was not going to disappoint them. The Pickwick Papers appeared as the first two volumes of a new Complete Works of Charles Dickens in early 1839.
The suggestion of a ‘Complete Works’ of Dickens in 1839 was even more odd than it had been for Bulwer five years earlier. Dickens was barely 27 years old and had just two or three published works to his name. ‘Sketches by Boz’ had appeared in 1836 and ‘Oliver Twist’ appeared in book form in April 1839.
But Fleischer was far from alone in seeing the potential of Dickens. Both Baudry and Galignani had already published pirate editions of Pickwick in English in 1838 (with Galignani probably the first). J.J. Weber had also published a German translations in parts in 1837/8 and 1839 saw a second translation from Vieweg & Sohn of Braunschweig.
Fleischer followed up with ‘Oliver Twist’ as volume 3, ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ as volumes 4 and 5 and ‘Sketches’ as volume 6, so that by the end of 1940 he was up to date with Dickens’ works. Three volumes of ‘Master Humphrey’s Clock’ followed in 1841/2, taking Dickens to 9 volumes, while Bulwer gradually increased to 20 volumes and Marryat to 14.
Then in 1942 the rival Tauchnitz series launched, also in Leipzig, and it was very quickly all over for Fleischer. Even before Tauchnitz in mid-1843 landed the hammer blow of obtaining authorisation from the authors in return for payment, Fleischer had more or less given up. The final volume, ‘The last of the barons’ by Bulwer, appeared in 1843 and Fleischer, one of the last of the pirates, hauled down his Jolly Roger and went back to publishing books in German.
Where I left the story in my last post (US Penguins 1942 – 1945), Ian Ballantine had left the business to help found Bantam Books. For a period, Allen Lane sent Eunice Frost out to New York to work with Kurt Enoch, probably not just to help him out, but to keep an eye on him.
That was only ever a temporary measure – Eunice Frost was too valuable back at Head Office – but Lane had his eye on a longer term solution. He had made contact with Victor Weybright, an American with publishing experience who had been working at the American Embassy in London during the war.
Allen Lane needed someone to act as a balance to Kurt Enoch, whom he no longer fully trusted. Enoch had taken the business a long way away from the founding principles of Penguin, competing head-to-head with Pocket Books, Dell Books and others on their terms, rather than trying to change the market. US Penguins had adopted illustrated covers on US style glossy card and the standard size of other local competitors. And the quality of the list was arguably not consistent with Penguin’s UK positioning either.
But Enoch had a personal stake in the capital of the US business and as he had organised the capital raising, some of the rest was held by his friends and associates. So both Allen Lane and Victor Weybright had to tread carefully at first.
Lane’s policy seems to have been one of constructive ambiguity – sending Weybright out more or less to negotiate his own way into the business. When he arrived, Enoch claimed not to have heard of him and was unwilling to meet him. After a two hour wait outside a closed door, there followed a week of talks mostly conducted through lawyers. The story is told from Weybright’s point of view in his autobiography, although this is highly self-serving and may not be entirely reliable.
But in the end an agreement was reached, which Weybright characterised as ‘absolute parity’ for the two men in terms of status within the organisation. Enoch would concentrate on production and distribution and Weybright on the publishing programme and public relations, an area where he considered Enoch’s abilities extremely limited. Perhaps surprisingly after such a difficult start, they formed an effective partnership that not only stayed together for many years, but was highly successful in a very competitive market. Enoch initially saw Weybright simply as a stooge for Allen Lane, but it was not long before the two of them were united in negotiating a break from Lane and from Penguin Books.
It’s hard to know exactly when Weybright’s influence began to be seen in terms of the series itself. He arrived in August 1945, but probably had little effect on the books published in the following few months. They included notably ‘Trouble in July’ by Erskine Caldwell, an author not approved of by Lane, but who became enormously important for the business over the following years.
Weybright almost certainly though was influential in the major changes that took place from January 1946 and included a significant redesign in the look and feel of the books, as well as the launch of a non-fiction Pelican list. Both were important developments that had long-lasting effects, but I’ll leave discussion of the US Pelican list for another day.
In some ways the re-design was just another step in the gradual transition that had been going on for three to four years already, away from the UK Penguin style and towards fully illustrated covers. It introduced full colour printing and illustrations stretching right across the front cover, and perhaps even more symbolically, it abandoned the colour-coding that had been such a key part of the Penguin brand, in favour of a bizarre system of different shaped symbols to indicate genre. The changes could be seen as the final break with the sober traditions of Penguin in the UK.
But in another way the business was actually moving back towards some of the key Penguin attributes in the UK. In particular the size of the books changed back to the standard UK size, distinguishing them from most other US paperbacks. And although not immediately apparent (perhaps not even to Allen Lane), the nature of the list was changing to one that was maybe more in line with Penguin principles.
A more literary list?
From a list that throughout most of 1944 and 1945 had been dominated by crime novels and relatively light fiction, there were now indications of more serious literature. D.H. Lawrence and E.M. Forster appeared in the January 1946 list, Virginia Woolf, Jack London, Sherwood Anderson and John Steinbeck over the next few months, and then in July, three plays by Bernard Shaw were issued to mark Shaw’s 90th birthday. Weybright was diplomatically taking some of the best of Penguin’s output from the UK and mixing it with more specifically American titles.
There were still plenty of lighter novels, and several that were too racy for Allen Lane’s taste. Weybright records that Lane seemed annoyed by the fact that Erskine Caldwell’s ‘God’s Little Acre’ was a runaway success, supporting the business through a difficult time. But the proportion of crime stories certainly went down and there does seem to have been a serious attempt to position the series as rather more up-market and literary. Indeed I’d suggest that the 80 or so books published in 1946 and 1947 stand comparison with almost any run of 80 books appearing in the UK Penguin main series.
In September 1946 Lady Chatterley’s Lover appeared as volume 610 and it was followed in November by E.V. Rieu’s new translation of ‘The Odyssey’ published by Penguin in the UK. Early 1947 saw Henry James and Joseph Conrad added to the list followed by William Faulkner’s ‘Sanctuary’. Lane disapproved of Faulkner, but when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, Weybright must have felt vindicated, as indeed when Lane later fought a court battle to publish Lady Chatterley in the UK.
Of course part of Allen Lane’s disapproval stemmed from the illustrated covers rather than the actual contents of the books. The covers were undoubtedly becoming more colourful and striking (regarded by Weybright as a necessity to compete in the US market), but Lane’s generalised slur on illustrated covers as nothing but ‘bosoms and bottoms’ would not have been a fair description of them, at least in 1946/1947.
Most of the covers were designed by Robert Jonas, often featuring stylised images evoking the spirit of the books rather than specific scenes from them. The Jonas covers are often described as having a distinctive style, but in fact several of the covers by other artists seem to me to be consistent with them, so it may be more of a house style influenced by Jonas rather than just the style of one artist.
Cover designs not by Robert Jonas
When Allen Lane visited New York in April 1947 it became clear that a split with the UK business was inevitable. The terms were negotiated in October of that year and by February 1948 the changes were under way. Penguins were to be re-branded as Signet Books, while Pelicans became Mentor Books – the overall business becoming the New American Library. For a period in early 1948 books were branded as ‘Penguin Signet’ but from August 1948 references to Penguin were dropped and the business was on its own.
Freed of UK constraints, the cover art took another turn. Robert Jonas was for a time Art Director, but from about November 1947 his stylised designs started to give way to a more brash style of which Allen Lane would certainly not have approved. Penguins had come a long way in a relatively short time.
Penguin’s attempt to woo the American market had started in 1939 with the establishment of an office in New York under the twenty-three year old Ian Ballantine, importing Penguins from the UK. It was not a great time though to be shipping books across the Atlantic and by 1941 it was clear that the operation had no future unless books could be produced locally.
A small number of UK books were reprinted in the US, but to extend the operation and move into local publishing, Allen Lane would need a more experienced publisher. He was perhaps lucky to find Kurt Enoch, one of the founders of Albatross Books, and a Jew who had been forced by the Nazis to leave Germany and then subsequently had had to flee for a second time from Paris, after it fell to the German army ( for the full story, see ‘A strange bird’ by Michele Troy).
Enoch had recently arrived in the US, was looking for work, and suggested to Lane that he could raise the capital to launch a local publishing programme. Lane took him on as Vice President responsible for production and design, with Ballantine in charge of distribution / sales. That leaves it a little unclear who was responsible for the core function of choosing and commissioning new titles. Enoch was the one with experience in this area at the time, so presumably took the lead, although Ballantine later went on to become a hugely successful publisher in his own right.
Albatross Books had been in many ways the model for Penguin, so Allen Lane might reasonably have expected to find in Kurt Enoch somebody who shared his ideals and vision for the business. But from the start Enoch seems to have had doubts about key parts of the Penguin brand that had been so successful in the UK.
The parents of American Penguins – rather different from the child
Penguin’s UK launch had been almost an overnight success and had transformed the UK paperback market, with almost all competitors adopting the main elements of the Penguin ‘package’ – size, price, colour coding, dustwrappers and so on, but above all, no cover illustration. The first tentative steps in the US market had not triggered any similar revolution and Enoch seems to have been sceptical that it ever could. Almost from day one, he seems to have had his eye on illustrated covers.
For Allen Lane and others back in Harmondsworth though, this was an article of faith. Before Penguin’s UK launch, there had been plenty of people saying that non-illustrated covers could never work in the UK market and they had proved them all wrong. Now they saw the brightly striped and immediately recognisable covers of Penguin Books as their main weapon in conquering new markets. The scene was set for a struggle that could have profound consequences for Penguin’s future.
In early 1942 the new US Penguin series launched, with numbers starting from 501. The first two books, numbers 501 and 502, appeared with the iconic striped covers. First blood to the Brits. But by volume 503 the design had changed significantly to one that allowed space on the front for a brief written description of the book, and on the back for advertising or for information about the author. Enoch must have been planning this for some time, perhaps waiting for approval from Head Office.
While Lane may not have been happy with any move away from the classic design, this change looks as though it may have been deliberately designed to get approval. It retains enough elements of Penguin identity to still look Penguin-ish and it’s still a very restrained design that doesn’t introduce any illustration to the front cover. It also retains the principle of colour coding used in the UK. Crime is still green, although perhaps strangely, the classic Penguin orange for novels is replaced by red, and yellow is more widely used for a range of books including non-fiction and westerns.
But this was by no means the limit of Enoch’s ambitions. He wanted cover illustration, and as it happened he had the right opportunity to get a foot into the door. A short series of classic texts illustrated by woodcuts had appeared in the UK in 1938 as Penguin Illustrated Classics. They had used illustration on the covers and had included ‘Walden’ by Thoreau, an American classic that would fit well into the new US Penguin series. How could the UK Head Office possibly object to a cover illustration that they had themselves used? The book appeared as volume 508 and was the first American Penguin to feature cover art.
Once the principle had been breached, Enoch was not going to let go. He had shown how a simple illustration could (not coincidentally?) fit well into the cover design he had introduced and others would follow. The first was ‘Tombstone’ by Walter Noble Burns, volume 514 published in October 1942, and from then on illustrated covers were the norm. It may have grated even more in the UK that the process started with a western – at this stage considered too down market for Penguin in the UK, although later on in the series, a few did appear.
The first illustrations were quite small, but it was not long before they were taking up the entire panel. And in the meantime, Enoch was attacking another of Penguin’s key brand attributes – the size of the books. Penguins had always been roughly 11 cm by 18 cm, a format based on the golden ratio and again copied from Albatross. But paperbacks in the US and particularly those from the main competitor, Pocket Books, were shorter and squatter. So Penguin moved in line with them.
This was in November 1943, barely 18 months after the launch and already Penguins had little in common with their UK parents and looked more like the local competitors. Even the glossy card covers and the red page edges looked more American than British. Any idea of changing the market had been abandoned. It was the Penguins that were having to change.
From late 1943 onwards, the rate of new titles started to increase and the cover illustrations became more and more dominant, with the single colour of the covers increasingly used within the picture as well. From volume 566 in October 1945, a second colour is used on the cover before moving on to full colour shortly afterwards.
This was though another turbulent period for the business. Some time around the end of 1944 or the beginning of 1945, Ian Ballantine resigned to work on the launch of a competitor, Bantam Books. He had learned what he could from Enoch and was ready to take the next step in his publishing career. Allen Lane however was not prepared to leave Kurt Enoch in sole charge of Penguin’s US business. Eunice Frost, originally Allen Lane’s secretary and still in her twenties, but in practice one of his closest aides in London, was sent out to New York to hold the fort, while Lane attempted to make more permanent arrangements.
That eventually led to the appointment of Victor Weybright to work with Enoch, and to a whole series of other developments. I’ll come back to them in another post and also look separately at the US Penguin Specials, an important series in their own right, which had been published alongside the main series throughout the period I’ve been talking about.
By the time P.G. Wodehouse first appeared in a Tauchnitz Edition in 1924, he was already a well-established and successful writer with around 20 novels to his name. For an author who went on to have around 40 books published by Tauchnitz, this was a surprisingly late start. But Wodehouse had started to come to prominence just as the First World War effectively took the German firm out of the market for new English language books, and the effects of the war lingered on for several years afterwards.
It was at least 1923 before Tauchnitz could get back to anything like a normal publishing programme and it never really recovered its former dominance of the market. The ability to spot promising new writers and publish their latest works almost simultaneously with the first UK editions, had been a defining feature of the business for much of the nineteenth century, but by the mid-1920s it was a fading memory. And Tauchnitz was entering a period that would prove to be one of the most turbulent of its existence. So we should perhaps be grateful that they were able to publish Wodehouse at all.
As usual with a new writer, Tauchnitz were keen to start with Wodehouse’s latest new work, rather than going back to earlier works. So the first in the series was a volume of short stories, ‘Ukridge’, published in the UK in June 1924, and then two months later in Tauchnitz as volume 4651, dated August 1924 at the top of the back wrapper on the first printing.
As always with Tauchnitz paperbacks, it’s the date on the back wrapper that’s important for dating, rather than the date on the title page, which remains fixed at the first printing year, even on reprints many years later. First printing paperbacks from this period also have a distinctive two column format for the latest volumes, which was not used on reprints.
For Tauchnitz Editions from the 1920s and 1930s far more copies do survive in paperback than is the case for 19th century novels and they’re much easier to date than bound copies, so I’ve focused on these.
Wodehouse’s next new novel was ‘Bill the Conqueror’, published in the UK in November 1924 and again following rapidly in Tauchnitz as volume 4669, dated January 1925 in the first printing (and listing only ‘Ukridge’ on the back of the half-title). Another volume of short stories, ‘Carry on, Jeeves’, appeared in the UK in October 1925 and the novel ‘Sam the sudden’ came out in the same month. Both were taken up by Tauchnitz – ‘Carry on, Jeeves!’ as volume 4710, dated November 1925 and ‘Sam the sudden’ as volume 4714, dated January 1926.
The pattern seemed to be set, with Tauchnitz taking each new work of Wodehouse’s as quickly as possible after UK printing. But prolific as Wodehouse was, new works were not coming fast enough to satisfy the appetite of continental readers, and there was still a temptingly long list of older works that could be issued. So along with the next volume of short stories, ‘The heart of a goof’ (volume 4641, dated July 1926), Tauchnitz also published a much earlier work ‘ Love among the chickens’ (volume 4640, July 1926), that Wodehouse had first written in 1906 and then rewritten in 1921.
Two other older works, ‘Psmith, journalist’ (vol. 4776, April 1927) and ‘Leave it to Psmith’ (vol. 4777, April 1927) followed in 1927 and from then on two or three new volumes were added almost every year, in a mix of completely new works and older works, both novels and short story collections. By mid 1929, when Curt Otto, the Managing Director, died, fourteen volumes of P.G. Wodehouse had been issued by Tauchnitz.
The incoming General Manager, Christian Wegner, set about making some significant changes, starting with a modernisation of the cover design for the series. After keeping essentially the same cover design for the first 70 years of its existence, a first real change had come in 1914, and now it was entering on a period of continual change. The new design appeared on a Wodehouse novel for the first time, with publication of ‘Mr. Mulliner speaking (vol. 4963, November 1930), followed quickly by ‘Very good, Jeeves!’ (vol. 4983, March 1931) and ‘Summer lightning’ (vol. 4995, June 1931).
Fourteen books appeared in the revised design taking the total to 28 and then from 1935, there was another change. Wegner had left under a cloud, but by mid 1934 he was effectively back as one of the managers of Albatross Books, which took over editorial control of Tauchnitz. The two lists for Albatross and Tauchnitz were managed together, but with Wodehouse remaining very much a Tauchnitz writer, with no entry to the (arguably more prestigious) Albatross list.
Another new cover design was launched in mid 1935, this time colour-coded to indicate genre. All Wodehouse volumes were coded orange, the colour for ‘tales and short stories, humorous and satirical works’. Shortly afterwards the size of the books changed to match the size of the Albatross volumes and dustwrappers in the same design as the covers were introduced, again in line with Albatross.
A further new design was introduced in 1938 that used colour more strikingly, but by this time war was approaching fast, and with it the end of the Tauchnitz series.
‘The code of the Woosters’, issued in June 1939 as volume 5357, was the last Wodehouse title to appear in the series before the outbreak of the Second World War, but it was not to be the last title of all. Wodehouse had been living in Le Touquet in France and was interned by the Germans after the invasion of France. He wrote ‘Money in the Bank’ on a typewriter provided by the Germans while in internment and the text was made available to Tauchnitz. It appeared in August 1943 as the very last volume in the Tauchnitz series, volume 5370, bringing the total number of Wodehouse works published in the series up to thirty-nine. It was the only new writing in English to be published in the Tauchnitz series after 1939.
Along with the infamous broadcasts on German radio, this was another example of Wodehouse being perhaps too willingly duped by the enemy. Certainly for them it was a publicity coup, and the book seems to have been printed in substantial numbers, although it’s hard to imagine much market in Germany in 1943 for Wodehouse’s brand of comedy.
The story should really end here. Shortly after publication of ‘Money in the bank’, the Tauchnitz premises were destroyed in an Allied bombing raid and after 100 years and 5370 volumes, the Tauchnitz Collection of British (and American) Authors came to an end.
But in fact it’s not the end of the story. After the war there were various attempts to revive Tauchnitz. A series of books reprinted from Hamburg, included ‘Money in the Bank’ as volume 16 in 1949. Then a short series of mostly new works published from Stuttgart, included two Wodehouse volumes -‘The mating season’ (volume 107 in 1952) and ‘Ring for Jeeves’ (volume 137 in 1954).
Neither of these post-war ventures was much of a success, and although no new volumes were published after 1955, unsold stock hung around for many years. In an attempt to shift it, more modern covers were added in the early 1960s and ‘Ring for Jeeves’ was certainly one of the books to appear in this style, at least the eighth style of wrapper to be applied to Wodehouse volumes by Tauchnitz.
There were a large number of fiction magazines in Victorian Britain, publishing short stories and /or serialised versions of full novels. Dickens had been one of the pioneers of the format, editing ‘Household Words’ and ‘All the year round’ for many years. By the 1890s, there were many more magazines and a small industry of authors providing appropriate material for them.
So, it was probably natural that Tauchnitz, the dominant publisher of English language books on the continent, should be interested in the idea of publishing a continental equivalent. The Tauchnitz Magazine was launched in August 1891 as a monthly magazine of 80 pages, usually with between five and seven short stories, followed by some publishing industry gossip and a review of the latest volumes of the Tauchnitz Edition.
Each issue was sold in light blue wrappers, highly decorated, with a heraldic crest at the top combining the arms of both Britain and the United States with those of Tauchnitz himself. The eighty pages of text were preceded by around six pages of adverts and there was also advertising on the back and on the inside of the covers, often but not always for other Tauchnitz publications.
According to an introduction in the first issue, the magazine aimed ‘to satisfy a want long felt by all readers of English and American literature on the Continent, and especially by English and American tourists’. The price is at first shown as 50 pfennigs or 65 centimes, but on later issues only as 50 pfennigs, suggesting that sales may have been limited principally to Germany. This is also suggested by the German language being used in some of the advertising in later issues for Tauchnitz Dictionaries and the Students’ Edition.
The first few issues were edited in the UK under the control of James Payn, editor of the Cornhill magazine and a regular Tauchnitz author. From issue number 6 onwards they were edited in Leipzig, but followed the same format, with many of the stories appearing also in one or other of the UK fiction magazines, such as the Strand magazine, the Idler or Longman’s magazine. It’s possible that in other cases the Tauchnitz magazine may have been the first or only publication for a story, but I’m not aware of any comprehensive research into this.
Generally the stories were by much the same authors as appeared in the main Tauchnitz series, among them Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and Jerome K. Jerome. But there were less familiar names too such as George Burgin, Francis Gribble and George Lionel Stevens.
The magazine survived for only two years from August 1891 to July 1893. Circulation is likely to have been low, possibly only a thousand copies or so, and few have survived. Copies in the original wrappers are now rare (do contact me if you have any), but some copies were bound, usually in volumes containing six issues. In most cases the bound volumes do not contain either the original wrappers or the advertising pages, but of course they’re much more likely to survive than unbound magazines.
I’ve been collecting UK Services Editions for around thirty years. I can remember the moment I started, when I was looking for something else and came across a couple of Guild Books Services Editions in the Hay Cinema bookshop in Hay-on-Wye. I can remember other important moments along the way as well, when I suddenly found one I’d been particularly looking for, or found a whole batch of Services Editions together. After thirty years, I have put together a collection of around 400 different titles, but there are probably about 500 altogether, so I still have 100 to find. And I’ve ground to a halt. Almost nothing new for a couple of years now.
So I need help. I should say that the books are certainly rare, but sadly not very valuable, at least in monetary terms. Most of the copies I have, cost me no more than two or three pounds each. A few were more expensive, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that I’d have wanted to buy, but didn’t because it was overpriced. The problem is not that I can’t afford to buy copies that come up for sale. The problem is more that when copies turn up, they’re more likely to be thrown away as worthless, rather than even offered for sale.
These are thin paperbacks, printed on poor quality wartime paper (sometimes apparently made from barley, instead of esparto grass, which was more or less unobtainable in wartime) and often in poor condition, tattered and written on. But there is no collection of them in the British Library, or the Imperial War Museum, or the Bodleian Library. Collins, who published over 150 of them, have no record of them in their archives. There is not even a comprehensive list of what exists, so far as I know, although I’m doing my best to compile one. I have come across one other collector interested in them, but that’s it. I really feel that if I can’t find the remaining titles, they will be lost forever.
The longest series of Services Editions came from Guild Books. They’re very recognisable, as ‘Services Edition’ is scrawled right across the front of the covers, but they do come in two different formats, narrow and wide, as illustrated below. The wide format ones are all from 1946 and are mostly reprints, although not marked as such, so are of less interest, although there are a few I’m looking for – ‘Death in the doll’s house’, ‘Those Sinning girls’ and ‘Men of Branber’.
I still need far more of the narrow format Guild Books editions. They’re too many to list, and in many cases I don’t even know the titles. But any narrow format book dated 1943, many dated 1944 and almost any with red covers are difficult to find, and there’s a fair chance I’m looking for them.
The other long series came from Collins and are less easy to spot. They’re distinguished from other Collins White Circle paperbacks by having ‘Services Edition’ printed on the cover, but this is often quite small and easily overlooked. There are still fifty or sixty I’m looking for, particularly any dated 1943 or 1944 and any yellow westerns of whatever date.
Between them those two series account for almost 400 titles and the other series are relatively short. I have all the red-striped Hutchinson editions and all the Penguin Services Editions (although Penguin Forces Book Club editions are always welcome). I’m a bit less sure what exists from Hammond, Hammond & Co., Nicholson & Watson and Methuen, but I may well have all of these too. But there are certainly more of the H&S Services Yellow Jackets than I’ve been able to find, including ‘Greenmantle’, ‘Riders of the plains’ and ‘The range boss’.
Perhaps slightly outside the strict definition of Services Editions, I’m also keen to find copies of the Hutchinson ‘Free Victory Gift’ paperbacks, almost any of them, but certainly including ‘Feud at Silver Bend’, ‘Amazing Spectacles’, ‘The banner of the bull’, ‘Further adventures of Dr. Syn’, ‘Team work’, ‘The gentle knight’, ‘Contraband’, ‘Crime at Crooked Gables’ and ‘Keep it dark’.
And finally, the rarest of them all, in my experience, are the Indian editions, produced for the Army and the RAF in India and South East Asia. Around 40 different titles were produced for this series, but I have only been able to find copies of five, and I know of no other collection of them anywhere.
So I need help. If you have any of these books that you can offer to me, or can point me in the direction of where I might find some, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me through the ‘About Al’ page. And if you have hard-to-find books you’re searching for yourself, do let me know, particularly if they’re paperbacks.
There is a long history of English language books published in Continental Europe that goes back way before the launch of the Tauchnitz series in 1841. One of the most significant series in the period just before Tauchnitz, and one that almost certainly influenced the young Bernhard Tauchnitz, was Baudry’s Collection of Ancient and Modern British Novels, published in Paris from 1831.
Louis-Claude Baudry (or sometimes Claude-Louis Baudry) seems to have been established as a bookseller in Paris from around 1815 and perhaps a little later as a publisher. Early on he decided to specialise in foreign language publications. A printing in English of ‘The letters of Junius’, published by Baudry & Lance in Paris in 1819, refers to their business as the ‘English, Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese Library’. References to Lance soon disappear and the description of the business changes over the years, sometimes referred to as ‘Baudry’s Foreign Library’, but it eventually settles on ‘Baudry’s European Library’.
A New Year catalogue for 1829 makes clear the specialisation of the business in foreign language books and refers to the availability of “more than 40,000 volumes of the best works in English, Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese, ancient and modern, new and second-hand”.
It’s unclear how many of these books would have been actually published by Baudry, rather than just sold by the bookshop. But shortly after this, the firm launched numbered series of books in several European languages, including in English, ‘Baudry’s Collection of Ancient and Modern British Novels and Romances’. The reference to ‘Romances’ was later dropped, but seems in particular to have been applied to the novels of Walter Scott, which featured heavily in the early titles, accounting for rather more than half of the first 50 volumes, including the first volume, ‘Waverley’.
Scott was still alive when the series started, but died in 1832 and would have received no payment at all for the use of his work. There were no international copyright agreements at this time, and publication of foreign titles with no payment to the author was standard practice. It seems ironic that one of the Scott novels published by Baudry was ‘The Pirate’ (volume 22 of the series), given that Baudry was a pirate publisher on a grand scale.
After the initial concentration on Walter Scott, the series settled down to cover a wide variety of authors, with Fenimore Cooper, Bulwer Lytton, G.P.R. James and Captain Marryat prominent among them. Like Tauchnitz after him, Baudry seemed to draw no distinction between British and American authors. Although the series title referred to British novels, it included numerous volumes by Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving, as well as other Americans such as Alexander Mackenzie and George Bancroft and a Nova Scotian in Thomas Haliburton.
Like Tauchnitz, and like most continental publishers of the time, Baudry published their books as paperbacks. But many were then taken to the bookbinder, and as these are generally the copies that survive best, in practice most of the copies found nowadays are hard bound.
Also like Tauchnitz, it’s difficult to distinguish first printings. As far as I can tell, most copies are correctly dated, in the sense that the date on the title page is the actual printing date of that copy. However with no indication of previous printings, it’s not easy to tell whether earlier printings exist or not. I’ve been unable to find a full bibliography of the main series, but I do have a rough list of numbers and dates that I’d be happy to share with anyone who’s interested.
There seem to have been around 450 numbered volumes in the series published between 1831 and 1850, of which about 350 appeared in the decade before the arrival of Tauchnitz to the market. After that the rate of publication of new volumes slows down noticeably, presumably because of the increased competition.
Baudry had sold its books partly on price, claiming to be far cheaper than the same books sold in Britain. The standard price per volume was 5 Francs, equivalent to around 4 shillings in UK Sterling at the time, for books that might have sold for 12s 6d or more in Britain in hardback. But Tauchnitz volumes, considerably smaller in terms of the amount of paper used, sold for more like the equivalent of 1s 6d and would have undercut Baudry.
In the end though the business was killed off, not directly by Tauchnitz, but by legislation. An Anglo-French Copyright treaty was signed in 1851, making it impossible to continue to publish English novels without authorisation. And as Tauchnitz had obtained exclusive authorisation from almost all the leading English novelists, Baudry had little room for manoeuvre. An International Copyright Act followed in 1852. The series of English language novels came to an end, although Baudry’s European Library continued, publishing mostly books on learning foreign languages, particularly English.
The English language series is the only one that I’ve looked into, but there were parallel series in several other languages, certainly Italian and Spanish, running at much the same time.