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Aldous Huxley in Tauchnitz and Albatross – Part 2

For Part 1, follow this link.

In 1934 Tauchnitz was on the point of collapse.   Its brash new rival, Albatross, had succeeded far beyond its expectations and had stripped Tauchnitz of its sales, its authors and its prestige.   Tauchnitz was ready to admit defeat and to agree to being bought by Albatross, but one thing stood in the way.  The National Socialists, the Nazis,  had just come to power in Germany, and Albatross was a company with multiple Jewish connections.    In the political climate of the time, such a transaction was impossible.

Instead a complicated arrangement was put in place where Tauchnitz was bought by Brandstetter, the German printing firm that printed Albatross books.  Brandstetter passed editorial control to Albatross, but kept the printing work for itself.   From 1934, editorial control of both series was handled from Paris by Albatross.

Aldous Huxley smoking, circa 1946

Aldous Huxley

With Huxley and various other writers though, they had a problem.  Their books were being burned by the Nazis and were appearing on various lists of banned books.   Albatross / Tauchnitz had to tread carefully along a narrow line if they were to survive at all in Germany.   They had to exercise some self-censorship not only in terms of what they published, but how they published it and where they sold it.  The story is told in some detail and in very entertaining form in Michele Troy’s new book ‘Strange Bird.  The Albatross Press and the Third Reich’.

Strange Bird

On the face of it, it made little difference whether books were published by Albatross or by Tauchnitz.  Editorial control of both series was from the same office in Paris, the books of both series were printed at the same printer in Leipzig, and they were distributed by the same distributor in Hamburg.  But the evidence of the books suggests a different story.  Tauchnitz after all was a German firm, with a higher proportion of its sales in Germany, and had to be extremely careful about publishing writers that were not approved of by the German government.  Albatross, although coming under considerable German control, seemed to be allowed a little more freedom.   Its books, printed in Germany, but sold across Europe, earned valuable foreign currency for Germany and the Nazis were prepared to be a bit more tolerant.

But it seems clear that Huxley was no longer to be tolerated as a Tauchnitz author.   He had moved to Albatross anyway for new publications, but even works for which Tauchnitz already had the rights were not reprinted.   The Tauchnitz bibliography records reprint dates for the six Huxley volumes in Tauchnitz editions.  Each was reprinted several times, but none of them after the end of 1934.   A similar pattern exists for D.H. Lawrence and other writers not approved of by the Nazis.

Instead Huxley’s books were transferred across to the Albatross series.  The two volumes of short stories, ‘Two or three graces’ and ‘Brief candles’ were reprinted in 1935 as Albatross volumes 246 and 247, followed shortly afterwards by ‘Music at night and other essays’ as volume 260.  ‘Point Counter Point’ appeared in April 1937 as volumes 331 and 332.

Two volume, or even three volume novels had been a long tradition for Tauchnitz, although gradually dropping out of favour by the 1930s.  For Albatross, they were almost unheard of.  Longer novels appeared, not in two volumes, but in a larger ‘extra volume’ sold at a higher price.  Presumably they could have done that with ‘Point Counter Point’, but, perhaps for contractual reasons, they chose to retain the Tauchnitz two volume format.  Unlike Tauchnitz though, they offered the two volumes for sale together in a slipcase.

Point counter point with slipcase

This transfer of Huxley’s books across to Albatross was probably made necessary by implicit censorship, but it made some sense anyway for editorial reasons.  Albatross had been the more modern, edgier series, and Tauchnitz the more traditional, conservative one, even before the takeover.   With new books still being added to both series, there had to be some basis for deciding which books appeared in which series and Huxley fitted better into Albatross.  The opportunity to develop a ‘collected edition’ of Huxley’s works in Albatross may have been too good to miss.

Huxley Collected Edition ad

On the other hand, shifting books from one series to the other could also have a financial impact.  The two firms had different ownership structures, so profits from the books could end up in a different place.  The Tauchnitz bibliographers, Todd & Bowden, accused the Albatross managers, particularly John Holroyd-Reece, of systematically transferring profits away from Tauchnitz, to the detriment of the new owners, Brandstetter.

This is probably unfair, and seems to take no account of the difficult circumstances in Germany at the time.  Whether the various dealings were fair to Brandstetter or not, depends upon the basis on which they went into the arrangement, what the ongoing financial arrangements were, and also on what was politically possible in 1930s Germany.   They did after all buy Tauchnitz at a time when, without the support of Albatross, it had little future or value at all.  It is likely that Brandstetter’s financial interest came more from printing the books of both firms than from the profits of publishing.  But the details of the arrangements were to be of vital importance later when war came to separate the firms.

Albatross 269 Beyond the Mexique Bay

There was still the question of  whether any further new works of Huxley’s could be published.  ‘Beyond the Mexique Bay’, appeared in Britain in 1934, nominally a record of Huxley’s travels in Mexico and Central America, but also including long sections that were critical of fascism and offensive to the German government.   It could not appear in translation in Germany but it might be more tolerated in English.  It did appear in 1935, as Albatross volume 269, but only after considerable self-censorship by the Albatross editors – “die Schere im Kopf”, or the scissors in your own head, as described by Michele Troy’s book.  Even then it’s an open question as to how openly it could be sold in Germany as opposed to other European countries.

It was followed by ‘The olive tree and other essays’ in August 1937 (volume 336) and then by ‘Eyeless in Gaza’ in January 1938 as volume 358.  Finally in July 1939, only a few weeks before the outbreak of war, came ‘Along the Road’, another collection of essays, originally published in Britain as early as 1925, so another example of catching up with Huxley’s earlier works.

In total then, 14 Huxley volumes in Albatross, five of them transferred across from Tauchnitz (and one more that never transferred), covering almost all his pre-war novels and short stories, as well as a representative selection of his essays and travel writing.   In the end only D.H. Lawrence accounted for more volumes in the series, although Agatha Christie was level on fourteen.  For a series that was printed in Germany in the 1930s and a writer whose books were burned and appeared on banned lists, that was quite an achievement.

Albatross Spines Aldous Huxley no slipcase

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Tauchnitz ‘Cabinet Editions’

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

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

tauchnitz-1233-front-wrapper

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

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

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

 cabinet-classics-1  cabinet-classics-4

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

cabinet-classics

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

cabinet-classics-hamlet-frontispiece

The frontispiece to Hamlet

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

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

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

childe-harold-vellum-2

An Italian vellum bound edition

cabinet-edition-g1-variant-bindings

Four versions in custom bindings, each one slightly different

The earliest known Tauchnitz paperback?

The Tauchnitz ‘Collection of British Authors’ launched in 1842 (or possibly late 1841) with ‘Pelham’ by Bulwer Lytton as volume 1 and Dickens’ ‘The Pickwick Papers’ as volumes 2 and 3.   I’ve written about both of them here and I have copies of (what I believe to be) a first printing of each of them.   But in both cases what I have is a hardback, privately bound, copy of a book that would originally have been issued as a paperback.   Most of those first printings may have stayed as paperbacks, but if they did then they suffered the usual fate of paperbacks.  It’s pretty tough for a paperback to survive over 170 years.   So far as I know, no paperback first printing of volumes 1, 2 or 3 has made it through.   Only copies that were taken to a bookbinder and given a sturdier binding, have survived.

Tauchnitz 4

A paperback copy of volume 4 from 1842

It’s possible that a first printing of volume 4 has survived, but first we need to know how to recognise a first printing.  For Tauchnitz Editions unfortunately, the date on the title page is of little use and there is no printing history on the back.  Luckily most paperbacks are easier to date than hardbacks.  From 1872 to 1934 they generally carry the true printing date at the top of the back wrapper and there are also differences in the format of the first printing wrappers that distinguish them from reprints.   Before 1872 it’s more difficult, but copies can usually be dated by reference to the other books that are advertised on the wrappers.   So any early paperback from 1842 should not advertise more than a handful of other titles – the series had reached volume 32 by the end of the year, and a first printing copy should not advertise any titles published much later than itself.

The Tauchnitz bibliographers, Todd & Bowden, found very few copies that came even close to meeting these conditions.      An early copy of volume 1, held in the New York Public Library, lists other titles up to volume 52 and a copy of volume 8 in Paris lists titles up to volume 79. More promising are a paperback copy of volume 12, also in the Bibliotèque Nationale in Paris, advertising titles up to volume 21 and a copy of volume 31 in the Netherlands (in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Hague) listing nothing later than volume 32.   Both of these are likely to be first printings as volume 12 was issued out of sequence and roughly at the same time as volume 21.

Tauchnitz 4 back wrapper

Advertising just 7 books in the series – possibly the earliest Tauchnitz paperback to survive.

Even earlier though are two copies in my collection that list only 7 titles on the back wrapper.  One of these is volume 7 itself, ‘Paul Clifford’ by Bulwer Lytton, so is almost certainly a first printing.  The other is volume 4, ‘Eugene Aram’, also by Lytton.   Tauchnitz announced the publication of volume 4 at the end of December 1841 and didn’t announce volume 7 until nearly the end of February 1842, so it’s perhaps unlikely that the first printing of volume 4 would advertise volume 7 as having been printed.   However there’s considerable doubt about exactly when the early books were published, and some evidence of announcements coming significantly ahead of actual printing, so until someone can produce an earlier copy, I still cling to the hope that my copy may be a first printing.