Melbourne Rare Book Week 2023

FeaturedFloating girl
A girl floating over Melbourne carried by book shaped balloons

MRBW to return in 2023

Melbourne Rare Book week will be returning to the Melbourne cultural scene following a three year gap due to the COVID19 pandemic. This popular free festival that celebrates the book and all other printed materials will run again starting on Friday 21st July 2023 and will culminate with the ANZAAB Melbourne Rare Book Fair which will run from July 27th to July 29th 2023 at Wilson Hall at the University of Melbourne.

We anticipate that the full program will be announced in early May and that bookings for our events will be open by late May via the new Rare Books Melbourne Web site.

To receive information about MRBW 2023, please click here to join our news-list.

So note these dates in your diary:

21st to 29th July 2023 for Melbourne Rare Book Week 2023

Melbourne Rare Book Week

For the Love of Books


Price and Provenance 0

An Index to the Price and Provenance Posts

Here is an Index with a brief description for the Price and Provenance posts.


Price and Provenance 1

An Approach to the Investigation of Books


This is the starting point for a series of posts about how to find out information about any particular copy and any particular edition and printing of an old book. As a book collector, these have been topics of great interest to me, so I thought that it might be useful to share and document some of my approaches, methods and findings. I call this series “Price and Provenance” as it is often quite difficult to find out how much an older book initially cost and also who has owned it previously. Both are issues of some interest to a serious book collector. I am taking different editions of the novels of Jane Austen as my starting point for this series of posts, partly as it reflects one of my main collecting interests, and partly as I have quite a few interesting editions to discus.

New books

Let’s start with the situation of new books. It is obviously so much easier to document the price, nature and provenance of a new book. You go to your local bookshop, or if you must, look at online vendors. Whichever way you choose, you browse around the available stock, choose your book, pay your money and take your purchase home so it can join the family of your previous purchases.

Virtually all new books today carry excellent documentation of what they are. Externally, books generally will have a removable price sticker that humans can read and also often a machine readable price bar-code. For most of the 20th century, the price was recorded on the front inner, lower corner of the dust jacket, often below a diagonal line which invited the discerning gift giver to remove the price with a pair of scissors. Dust jackets that have been mutilated in this way are generally referred to as “price-clipped”.

Books will have a title page, which will tell you the book title, author and publisher, generally in that order as you read down the page. It used to be that, through most the past 500 years, the date of publication appeared at the foot of the title page. Today, more often than not, the title page will not have the date of publication printed at the bottom. You will now have to turn the page to find it.

Now for some nomenclature which I will try to introduce gradually through these posts. We call the front of a leaf in a book or right hand page as we view an opened book the “recto” and the rear of that page, normally appearing on the left hand side of an opened book, the “verso.” So, if you look on the other side, the verso, of the title page of a new modern book, you will see a whole lot of detail which gives you a full description of the book. There will be a dated copyright statement, the date of publication, and the full name and address of the publisher, often with addresses of that publisher in multiple countries. Books published in the USA will have a statement about registration with the Library of Congress. In the UK, the equivalent is a statement about a CIP catalogue number registered with the British Library, and in Australia, where I live, there will be an equivalent statement with regard to the National Library of Australia. Towards the bottom of the page the details and address of the printer are usually given.

The details of the edition of the book also generally appear on the verso of the title page. Some times the statement will be simply “First Edition” ; other times it might say “Third impression” or it might read something like “First published in 1963, reprinted 1964 (twice), 1965, 1966”. More recently, this has been codified into a line of numbers. It generally looks like this:

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

or this: 1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2

But is may also look like this: 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

All of these tell you that the book is the first impression (printing) of the first edition. If however the line of numbers should look like this:

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

you are dealing with the second impression of the first edition, and you will find with each new impression, a further digit is removed. For some blockbusters, the publishers just print a number by itself to indicate the impression.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

In modern books, you will also find the ISBN number. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. These started in 1965 as a nine-digit Standard Book Number which in 1967 became the International Standard Book Number. The format was officially established as an international standard in 1970 when a ten-digit ISBN was adopted; the earlier nine-digit numbers were updated by the addition of a leading zero. New books displayed the ten-digit ISBN, as a printed number or as a bar-code from 1970 until 2007 when the ISBN standard was redefined as a 13 digit number. While most countries adopted the ten-digit ISBN in 1970, the UK persisted with the nine-digit format until 1974. Most book readers will be familiar with the appearance of the 13 digit ISBN bar-code format shown below:


Without going into the full complexities of the ISBN system, the principle is that each book should be uniquely identified, just as a URL uniquely identifies a Web page. The structure of the ISBN is built from several elements: a three-digit prefix, currently 978 or 979 known as the EAN (European Article Number), the language and or country of publication, publisher and book details. The final single digit is a technical check-sum. The elements are separated by blank spaces or by hyphens. Different formats of books (hardback, paperback, e-book) each get their own individual ISBN.

Identification and provenance of older books

For any book published before 1970, there is no ISBN, so as collectors, we have traditionally concentrated on the identification of the precise edition, printing or binding of any given book, either from inspection of the book itself, or by recourse to catalogues and bibliographies. Much less effort has been expended on understanding provenance, with the exception of the identification and collection of desirable “Association” copies of books. By Association copy, we mean a book which has been previously owned or inscribed by someone of importance, either to the book itself, or its subject matter or sometimes just by the personal fame of the associated person.

In her recent excellent book “The Lost Novels of Jane Austen”, (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2019, ISBN 978-1-4214-3159-8)  Professor Janine Barchas explores the topic of the provenance of hitherto unregarded, cheaper editions of the novels of Jane Austen as valuable evidence in the understanding of how the popularity of this major author was spread by the publication of editions that were accessible to the broad general reading public. Many of the books that she examined had escaped inclusion in the standard bibliographies.

Professor Barchas also uses the information of prior ownership, in combination with family history research techniques, to rediscover some of the countless unrecognised readers of Jane Austen from the past. This approach has been a facet of my book collecting practice for the past decade or so. In a series of follow-up posts, I will share some of the findings of my exploration of provenance and the previous history of the books in my collection. My first examples, like Janine Barchas’ work, will involve Jane Austen. Here are three copies of Mansfield Park which I will be exploring first.

Read the next posting to learn more about these three books.

Beginners Guide to Collecting Books


What makes a book collectible?

I am often asked by non-book collecting friends what makes a book collectible and how can you tell if a book is valuable. Here are some thoughts on these matters.

Firstly, for a book to be collectible, there needs to be someone out there in the world who desires to own it! That may seem obvious, but really is the sine qua non of any collecting. Similarly, one may ask what is a particular book worth, and one rather obvious answer is “Whatever someone in the marketplace for books is prepared to pay for it!”
For instance, a book dealer may have a rare volume displayed in his or her shop with a price tag of say $500 on it, but if the book has been unsold in the shop at that price for 5 years, then who is to say that it is worth the price on the tag?

If we dig a little deeper into these issues, the four major determinants of “worth”, which may not be the same thing as “value” or “price” are form, content, rarity and condition. Lets consider these four issues in turn.


By form, I mean the physical presentation of the book. Is it a hardback or paperback? Is it a first edition or a reprint? Is it printed or published by a desirable firm? Is it in an attractive or elegant binding? Is it illustrated? Is it signed by anyone special, such as the author, illustrator or a significant previous owner? Does it have an interesting, well designed or famous bookplate? Some of these issues is worthy of some consideration.

Hardback or Paperback

Generally speaking, hardback, or more properly, ‘cased’ books are more collectible than paperbacks. There are many reasons for this. Most books are first published in a fully bound and cased format, at a relatively higher price, before they are then reprinted as a less expensive paperback in card covers, often with the gatherings of the pages glued to a back-strip, in what is misleadingly called ‘perfect bound’. Most paperbacks that one sees are perfect bound. In recent years, in an attempt to contain costs, large format first edition ‘trade paperbacks’ have been published at the same time as an equivalent fully cased hardback first edition. Here in Australia, for instance, in the 21st century, most first edition novels are only available as trade paperbacks, when in the UK and USA they are often published as both hardbacks and trade paperbacks. Often it is then only the trade paperback that is exported from the UK to Australia for retail sale.
Cased books for the last almost 200 years have been bound within board covers that are covered with a substance that can be labelled or decorated. The coverings were traditionally types of animal skins, leathers of various types, or vellum. In the early 19th century, book cloth was popularised as a cheaper and durable alternative to animal products.

Since the later part of the 19th century, cased books have also been covered by paper wrappers called a dust wrapper or dust jacket. These were initially disposable, plain paper covers to protect the printed pages before they were cased by a book binder, or to protect them on the journey between the publisher and the retail bookseller. As the years went by, the dust jackets were seen as a useful, if perhaps ephemeral part of the book, which could also be decorated and so be useful in the marketing of books. For the collector of Modern First Editions (however defined), the dust jacket is a highly desirable if not essential component of the book for it to be deemed complete and collectible.
Some paperbacks are highly prized and collectible, particularly certain books which were only published in paperback format, or books from certain paperback publishers, such as Penguin, Albatross, Tauchnitz and Pan.

First editions

Everyone knows that first editions are very collectible and are often highly desired. But if you give this a little thought, it does require some explanation. One thing that you can be sure of is that every book that has ever been published has existed as a first edition. Indeed, the vast majority of books, once published in their first edition, have probably failed to sell sufficiently well, and so have never been  reprinted or re-issued! So why the importance of first editions?  Collectors will generally say that the first edition is the first appearance of the book and as the initial form of the book that the world ever sees, it has a particular power and importance beyond the raw text. They will also say that the first edition also represents the author’s freshest and new ideas and inventions. However, the first appearance of a book, which is strictly the first state of the first impression of the first edition ( I will explore these terms more in a following blog) in the original publisher’s binding and dust jacket will often contain errors (known in the book collecting world as points) that are most commonly introduced by the printer, but sometimes by the editor or the binder. Thus the earliest form of the book may not represent the author’s true intentions, and it may be later states that correctly reflect the text as presented in the author’s manuscript.


Generally, the original publisher’s binding of  a book is the most desired form. However, from the earliest times, it has been quite common for books to be given different bindings after their purchase, that are often more ornate and attractive than the publisher’s binding. Sometimes, particular book buyers or collectors had a preferred or personalised form of binding that they always applied to their books. Some private, public and school libraries also adopted this practice. From  early Victorian times, it was quite common to replace the publisher’s cloth binding with a half or quarter bound casing that used different leathers and boards, often with marbled end papers. On occasions, the publishers themselves produce a limited number of copies of a book that are bound in higher quality, more expensive bindings. 

In mid to late Victorian times, many publishers adopted more highly decorated cloth styles, with the use of impressed or embossed gilt designs or coloured cloth decorations, sometimes on beveled or more elaborately incised boards. All of these superior Victorian cloth bindings are very collectible in their own right. In addition the cheap ‘yellowback’ bindings of crime and sensational novels of the late Victorian and Edwardian age are also now highly collected.

From the early years of the twentieth century, books were mostly bound in cloth which had become very plain and undecorated, particularly after World War One. As the cloth became plainer, so the dust jackets gradually became more highly decorated. In the Art Deco period, from the early-1920s until the end of the thirties, an expectation of elegantly decorated dust jackets began to become the norm for high quality books. For some crime fiction and thrillers, some of the dust jacket decorations became quite lurid and sensational. There are collectors out there for all of these. A few authors even designed their own dust jackets, Evelyn Waugh with ‘Vile Bodies‘ and Ian Fleming with ‘Moonraker‘ are two famous examples, and Len Deighton designed a few decorated Penguin covers in the 1960s.

Signed books

Names or signatures in books can add to their desirability. However, it does matter whose name and signature it is. ” To little Freddy  from Auntie Nell, Xmas 1984, XXX “, scrawled across the title page of any book with purple broad tip Texta pen will almost certain detract from the books desirability. 

However, a copy of the James Bond book ‘Dr No‘, neatly signed “Ian Fleming” on the end-paper would be desirable. If it were inscribed “Peter, here is my latest book; your brother Ian” it would probably be more desirable. If it were to be signed “to Sean Connery from Ian Fleming, loved your performance”, it would be very highly desirable. I’m sure that you get the idea.  Certainly a plain signature, probably written en masse for a bookstore appearance, is probably less desirable that a dedication to an unknown person, and certainly less desirable than a dedication to a famous person or a person who has some significant relationship to the book. 
Ownership signatures from famous, previous owners of the book, neatly written on an end-paper are also highly desirable. In this regard, a copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, with Sir Winston Churchill’s ownership signature would be desired by all collectors of war books or Churchilliana.


Bookplates are the often decorative labels pasted onto the end-papers of books to assert ownership. Many people had personalised bookplates designed for them and the presence of a discreet and tasteful book plate does not generally lessen the desirability of a book; if the bookplate is particularly well designed, or sufficiently grotesque  and unusual, or if it belonged to a famous or significant person, then it probably adds to the desirability of the book.


Content is a fairly straight forward matter to consider in book collecting. By content, I mean the text and the illustrations (if any). 


If the book is a classic or prize winning or ground-breaking work, then it will be intrinsically more desirable. For most authors, there are one or a few stand-out titles which are the most collected. For George Orwell for instance, I think that everyone would identify “Animal Farm” and “1984” as his most desirable books. On the other hand, almost anything by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen or the Brontes would be very desirable.
The nature of the text is also important. Most collectors prefer the detective fiction of Dorothy Sayers to her religious works; similarly, the Narnia books and the three space fiction novels of CS Lewis are more collected than his academic or religious books. Most collectors would rather have Rider Haggard’s “King Solomon’s Mines” or “She”, rather than his scarce first book, “Cetewayo and his White Neighbours”, or his later books on farming. 
Charles Darwin’s “On The Origin of Species” probably is a unique book in its profound impact on human ideas and life. Any copy of this text has some interest to collectors, from the first edition of 1859 down to the many modern reprints that have appeared since.


Illustrated books also have a content collectibility over and above the written text. Many books have been published in un-illustrated first editions, which, after the book’s success as text has been established, are re-issued in lavishly illustrated and finely bound editions that many collectors crave. For collectors of English books, the golden age of book illustration is generally held to be the period 1875 to 1914.
I personally have collected editions of the Alice books of Lewis Carroll illustrated by many illustrators over the last hundred years or so. Although the original illustrations in the first editions of 1865 and 1871 were famously and iconically created by Sir John Tenniel, many famous illustrators have produced wonderful illustrations since then. In a future blog, I will discuss these books and illustrations.


Rarity is determined by a number of factors. Age is certainly one, and although old books are not necessarily highly collectible, there is no doubt that age will have an effect on survival of any book, and so will affect rarity.
The size of an edition is also a key factor. The first edition of the first book by an unknown author is usually published in very small numbers, as the publishers want to limit their risk of losses. If the book is successful, then the publisher can print more copies and issue new editions, according to the book’s popularity. Nowadays, if a film is made of the book, new editions are published to take advantage of the marketing of the film.
An interesting recent example of the first book phenomenon is offered by the Harry Potter books of J K Rowling. The first book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone” (1997), as the first book by an unknown author, was published in a standard small first UK hardback edition of 500 copies in laminated boards, along with a paperback edition of a few thousand books. 300 of the 500 hardbacks were sold to the English School Library system, where they will have been read to destruction, leaving only 200 copies for book collectors. These now attract massive prices, around $50,000, in specialist book auctions. Copies signed by Rowling will cost even more.
The second book “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (1998) and third book “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (1999) were both published in UK hardback first editions of about 10,000 copies each. These are also highly collected and quite expensive, generally costing around $1000 , depending on condition and issue, rising to $7500 if they are signed by the author.
By the fourth book “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire“, (2000), the Harry Potter phenomenon had well and truly taken off. The first UK hardback edition numbered one million books! Although these are still collectible, they are easy to find, and not very expensive. The same is true for the last three books, published in massive first editions and therefore relatively common and easy to find. Interestingly, the first UK hardback edition of the first James bond book “Casino Royale” (1953) is also very rare and highly desirable, due to a small edition being printed (about 4500 books), of which half went to the UK Public Library Service and were read to destruction… a similar story to the first Harry Potter book.

In a parallel story,  the first edition of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species“, was published by John Murray on 24th November 1859 in a first edition of only 1250 copies of which 1170 copies were available for sale. 500 of these were purchased by Mudie’s Library and all of the rest were pre-sold before publication, mainly due to the intense interest in the subject at the time. Many ended up in institutional libraries, so that the number of copies in private hands, which are those that tend to become available to the rare book trade, was very limited. A first edition can still sometimes be offered for sale in 2015, but it will cost around $250,000. A copy famously sold for around this price on the 150th anniversary of its publication in 2009.


Condition is the final factor that I will consider here. Book collectors want the best possible condition of any book that they want to collect. The book should ideally be complete, in the original binding and dust jacket, with no marks, tears, scribblings, sticky tape scars, water or light damage, library detritus or stains. It should ideally look like a brand new copy of the book on the day of issue, before it has been read.
This Ideal is not always attainable, and so the more scarce and desirable a book is, the more collectors will compromise on condition. Small stains and small repaired tears and creases in the dust jacket are often acceptable. All illustrations must be present in an illustrated book, but looseness of tipped-in illustrations can be acceptable and can be easily repaired. The title page must be present and all of the text must be present, but some people will accept the loss or disfigurement of the free front end paper (the blank page often found at the front of a book, before the title page). Looseness or defects in the binding, usually found in the “gutters”, the region where the pages are attached to the boards, are grudgingly acceptable to most, and the absence of tissue guards, the protective tissues for illustrations, particularly frontispieces are common and also generally acceptable.
Foxing, the appearance of brown stains due to a mould within the paper is common and also acceptable if not too severe. (A well known comical book on book collecting, illustrated by Ronald Searle, is famously titled “Slightly Foxed, but Still Desirable”, echoing the description often given in book dealer’s catalogues.)
Not surprisingly, the older a book is, the more damaged and worse for wear it is likely to be. Most collectors will accept this and take a pragmatic view of this issue. Thus I expect a much higher standard for my Terry Pratchett first editions, all of which were published after 1983, than my Charles Dickens first editions, all of which were published between 1834 and 1870.


Chris’s Book Blog Site

This is my attempt to create a web presence about Old and Rare Books and Book Collecting. It is an entirely personal viewpoint and represents my own views and tastes, and so will reflect my own collection and collecting interests. I will try to link to useful resources and devise original posts that may be of interest to some book collectors out there.

My collecting tastes are very catholic but are generally in the area of English and children’s literature from the 19th and 20th centuries. Wow, (I hear you say), that’s a huge scope. Yes it is, but I narrow it by collecting authors who I enjoy and like, books that I admire for their form as well as their content, and some particular areas of English writing, including some travel writing by favourite authors, and detective and crime fiction by authors who use this genre to explore particular times, places and cultures.

I am also an avid collector of Penguins, now going for 85 years. I will try to gather together here some useful information, ideas and sources for Penguin collectors.

The Routledge and Warne publishing families: Part 4

The start of Routledge’s Railway Library

George Routledge continued to operate as a publisher at 36 Soho Square through the mid 1840s, and published an eclectic mixture of titles, mainly reprints of English and American fiction and non-fiction. He continued to publish the very successful biblical commentaries of the American Reverend Barnes that he had started selling in the early 1840s. He introduced the world at large to the unconventional, socially-concerned fiction of Henry Cockton (1807-1853), by reprinting “The Life and Adventures of Valentine Fox, the Ventriloquist”, an expose of the parlous state of British mental asylums and lunacy laws, first published in 1840, and “The Life and Adventures of George St. Julien, the Prince of Swindlers” (1841). Both were first reprinted by Routledge in 1844. He was probably able to publish these books because of the bankruptcy of Cockton in 1842. Routledge continued to publish reprints of “Valentine Fox” for many years, and more than 400,000 copies of this now mostly forgotten title were published by the end of the 19th century.

Most of the Routledge reprints of Cockton’s books reproduced the illustrations by Thomas Onwhyn from the first editions. Onwhyn had gained notoriety following his publication of pirated versions of Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby containing his own illustrations; Dickens famously complained of “the singular vileness of the illustrations.”

Routledge also published reprints of some of the novels of William Harrison Ainsworth during this period. Ainsworth, a friend and collaborator of Dickens, had come to the public’s notice with the publication by Richard Bentley of his first novel, “Rookwood”, in 1834. Just as with Cockton, Routledge republished Ainsworth’s novels with their original illustrations, many of which were by Dickens’ main illustrators, Cruikshank and “Phiz”.

George Cruikshank illustration from Ainsworth’s “The Tower of London” reprinted by Routledge

By the end of the 1840s, Routledge was trying to find a better way of publishing his reprints. He had noticed the reprinted novels published by Simms and McIntyre in Belfast in 1846 under the series title of “The Parlour Novels”, which in 1847 became “The Parlour Library”. These were low-price publications in attractive embossed cloth bindings. Routledge used to travel around the country selling his own books directly to provincial booksellers. He started doing this by stagecoach, but by the mid to late 1840s he travelled on the rapidly-developing British railway system, which had become both extensive and cheap in the period 1835-1845. During these journeys, he noticed the growing popularity of reading on trains, an activity which had become possible due to the much smoother ride that the railway offered, compared to the stagecoach.

Routledge put these two observations together and decided to produce high quality but low-cost reprints, specifically targeted at the growing population of railway travellers. This became Routledge’s Railway Library, which was launched in 1849. The books were mainly sold by the bookseller W.H. Smith, who had developed the first bookstalls in British railway stations in 1848. Routledge’s Railway Library was a huge success, and although it was soon copied by other publishers, it was the financial making of George Routledge. The series was launched with about a dozen titles available in 1849. By 1898, when the series ended, more than 1270 titles had been published in the Routledge Railway Library series.

The changing styles of the card-bound books issued as part of the Railway Library over its first fifteen years are illustrated above. The left-hand panel shows James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Pilot”, published in 1849 as the first book in the series. The British copyright for Fenimore Cooper was held by Richard Bentley at this time, but Routledge ignored this, and in fact published six Fenimore Cooper titles in his first ten Railway Library books. Later on, after the success of the Railway Library had been assured, Routledge belatedly paid Bentley his royalties for the copyright infringements, and entered into an arrangement with Bentley to reprint thirty-six of Bentley’s Standard Novels as Routledge’s Standard Novels, a series that ran from 1851 to 1860.

The middle panel shows another American book, this time by Nathaniel Hawthorne, reprinted by Routledge in the Railway Library series in 1852. You can see that by this time, the success of the Railway Library had allowed Routledge to move his publishing business to 2 Farringdon Street, a much better address than 36 Soho Square, although Soho Square remained the family home until the late 1850s. The business move to Farringdon St. happened in the second half of 1851.

In the right-hand panel, we can see that by 1863, the firm had matured into Routledge, Warne and Routledge, by the inclusion into the partnership of George Routledge’s brother in law, Frederick Warne, and Routledge’s eldest son Robert Warne Routledge. The firm was still operating at 2 Farringdon Street at this time, and the book shown is by an English author, Mrs. Catherine Gore, who was one of the most prolific and popular writers of the 19th century. Her obituary in The Times in 1861 described her as “the best novel writer of her class and the wittiest woman of her age.”

Note that the price of the Railway Library books had been kept at one shilling for all three of these books issued over a 14 year period. The basic price remained at one shilling for the card-bound books until the 1870s, although cloth-bound versions, which shamelessly copied the binding style of the Simms and McIntyre Parlour Library, were also available at 1s 6d.

The first ten books issued in the Railway Library series were:

1The PilotJames Fenimore Cooper
2Jane SinclairWilliam Carleton
3The Last of the MohicansJames Fenimore Cooper
4The PioneersJames Fenimore Cooper
5The PrairieJames Fenimore Cooper
6The Dutchman’s FiresideJames Kirke Paulding
7The SpyJames Fenimore Cooper
8Sense and SensibilityJane Austen
9The Water WitchJames Fenimore Cooper
10Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen

An almost complete list of the first 100 titles can be found here.

The success of The Railway Library series encouraged George Routledge to take a considerable financial gamble in 1853. On December 27th of that year, he signed a contract with the author Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton for the right for ten years to publish reprints of nineteen of Lytton’s novels in The Railway Library series, for what Routledge described as “the immense sum of twenty thousand pounds.” It turned out to be a successful investment, so much so that when the contract expired in 1863, Routledge agreed to pay a further ten thousand pounds to extend the publication rights for another ten years. The outcome of these arrangements is that novels by Sir Edward, later Lord Lytton, are the commonest titles from Routledge’s Railway Library to be found in the secondhand book world today.

In later years, the appearance of the Railway Library series continued to change. By the mid 1850’s the very popular “Yellowback” binding style had been adopted by Routledge for the Railway Library, which made the books look rather similar to books from several other publishers of cheap reprints at that time. Some examples of these Routledge Railway Library Yellowbacks, which were priced at 2 shillings, are shown below.

In the next installment of this series I will look at the changes that occurred in George Routledge’s family and his business in the years 1850 to 1870.

The Routledge and Warne publishing families: Part 3

Starting out together in the book trade.

In Part 1 of this series, the Cumberland origins of George Routledge and how he started as a Soho bookseller are described. In Part 2, the Gloucestershire origins of the Warne family and how Frederick Warne became a neighbour of George Routledge is explained. This post, Part 3, will cover how the Routledge and Warne families started working together in the book trade.

The Beginnings of George Routledge, Publisher

George Routledge arrived in London in October 1833, having just completed his apprenticeship as a bookseller in Carlisle. He rented 11 Ryder’s Court in Soho as his home. For the next three years, he worked for an established bookseller/publisher, Baldwin and Craddock of Paternoster Row. In September 1836, following the failure of the firm of Baldwin and Craddock, George Routledge set himself up as a bookseller at 11 Ryder’s Court. He published his first book from that address just before the end of 1836.

In 1827, Frederick Warne, then aged 2, together with his five year old brother, William Henry Warne (1822-1859) moved with their parents and siblings from 5 Ryder’s Court to live literally just around the corner at 41 Lisle Street where Frederick was to remain until 1852. The move allowed his father Edmund to separate his family home from his business by also renting 42 Lisle Street as a workshop and showroom. The first known interaction between the Warne family and George Routledge was the witnessing of the will of Frederick’s oldest and short-lived brother Robert Alexander Warne (1808-1834) by George Routledge in 1834. This was followed by three other much more significant events.

Shortly after he opened his bookshop at 11 Rider’s Court in 1836, George Routledge engaged the fourteen year old William Henry Warne as his assistant and apprentice. Although the main business from 11 Ryder’s Court was selling books, George Routledge began to publish books in 1836 and these early Routledge publications from Ryder’s Court are now very scarce. Shown below are two early Routledge title pages, both published from Ryder’s Court in 1840.

It was very common in the 18th and 19th century for booksellers to become publishers. This made a lot of sense, as it provided a ready supply of books for sale, both through retail via a bookshop, but also to the wholesale market, the circulating libraries and within the book trade to other booksellers. These last three activities helped to mitigate some of the economic risks of publishing. Sometimes two or more booksellers would combine to publish a book in order to share the risks, and the profits.

George Routledge marries.

The ties between the Warne family and George Routledge became even closer on 25th January 1837, when George Routledge married Marie Elizabeth Warne (1814-1855), the sister of Frederick and William Henry Warne. The wedding took place at the church of St. Anne’s Soho, in Westminster. This was the local parish church for the Warne family and for George Routledge and, despite being largely destroyed in 1940 in the Blitz, it was rebuilt and is still the parish church today.

St Anne’s Soho in the 19th century by J. McN. Whistler

In 1839, the links between the Warne family and George Routledge strengthened, when the fourteen year old Frederick Warne joined his older brother William Henry as an assistant to George Routledge, bookseller. George and Marie Routledge lived above the bookshop at 11 Ryder’s Court, where the first four of their eight children were born. These included the two oldest sons of George Routledge, Robert Warne Routledge (1837-1899) and Edmund Routledge (1843-1899), who were both to play important parts in Routledge publishing history.

36 Soho Square

In May 1843, the Routledge family and business were still at 11 Ryder’s Court. Sometime in the second half of 1843, George Routledge, his wife and four children, and business, all moved from Ryder’s Court to much larger premises at 36 Soho Square, about 300 metres north of Ryder’s Court. George continued to refer to himself as a bookseller for the next few years, but gradually changed his description in the later 1840s to “Bookseller and Publisher”.

The next three Routledge children, Maria, William Henry and George, were all born at 36 Soho Square. The building has survived in good shape into the 21st century, where it is a Grade II listed building that is rented for office space. For much of the 20th century, it housed the music publishing department of Oxford University Press. It clearly provided good accommodation in the upper floors for a growing family, while providing the bookshop and publishing spaces on the ground floor.

36 Soho Square today

The page below is from one of the most profitable series of books published by Routledge from Soho Square in the 1840s. It is one of twenty-one volumes of Rev. Albert Barnes’ commentaries on the bible. Barnes was an American pastor who was a prolific author of religious books. Routledge published all 21 volumes of Barnes’ commentaries, starting in 1845. The page shown is an advertisement for the series from my copy of the Thessalonians commentary published in 1846.

Advertisement page from 1846

In Part 4 of this series of posts, the development and expansion of Routledge’s publishing activities from 1845 to 1865 will be discussed.

The Routledge and Warne publishing families: Part 2.

Frederick Warne (1825 – 1901)

Frederick Warne and his siblings

Frederick Warne was born at 5 Ryder’s Court in Soho, London on 13th October 1825. He was the eleventh of the thirteen children born to Edmund Warne (1783-1870) and his wife Matilda Stannard (1787 -1863). Only one of his twelve siblings, Maria Warne (1809-1810), died in infancy, while one other sister, Louisa Jane Warne (1818-1833), died at the age of 14. All of Frederick’s other ten siblings lived to reach adult life, with four of them dying relatively young, between the ages of 25 and 45, while four others lived beyond their 80th year, including Frederick’s closest sibling in terms of birth year, Stannard Warne (1824-1919), who lived for over 95 years. The life expectancy for Frederick and his siblings would have been 33 years according to London records. Their actual average lifespan was 57 years, showing that the family must have been quite well housed and fed, in spite of their large size. Frederick’s older brother, William Henry Warne (1822-1859) was to play an important role in the development of Frederick Warne as a publisher.

Origins of the Warne family

Frederick Warne’s father Edmund Warne (1783-1870) worked in London as a carpenter, surveyor and builder, but was not born in London. He was christened on 1st January 1784 in Newent, a small medieval market town in Gloucestershire, about 10 miles (16 km) north west of the city of Gloucester. Newent was a initially Romano-British settlement and is mentioned in the Domesday Book as belonging in 1066 to the king Edward the Confessor, as part of the Royal Forest of Dean. Edmund Warne’s father, also an Edmund Warne (1745 – 1818), grandfather John Warne (1711-1786) and great grandfather Thomas Warne (c1675-c1765) all lived in Newent and worked as carpenters.

Frederick Warne’s paternal grandparents

Edmund Warne senior (1745-1818) was christened in Newent on 1st January 1746 and married Anne Beale (1751-1827) at Eldersfield in Worcestershire on 31st January 1777. Eldersfield, which is now in Gloucestershire, is a small town about 10 miles (16km) north east of Newent. Edmund Warne and Anne Beale had eight children all of whom were born in Newent between 1778 and 1787. The couple had 4 sons and four daughters. Edmund Warne senior seems to have moved with his family to St. Pancras, London in 1787. This can be inferred by the birth of his youngest son James Warne in 1787 in Newent, followed by the christening of James Warne on 30th August 1787 at Fitzroy Chapel in Maple Street, St. Pancras in London. The next mention of Edmund Warne in London is as a master carpenter living in St. Pancras who takes on an apprentice on 30th August 1791. In 1798 and 1799, Edmund is recorded as renting premises at 12 shillings from Lord Southampton on the west side of Tottenham Court Road. Presumably he both lived and worked in that building, which might have been 120 Tottenham Court Road as that was Edmund Warne’s son William Warne’s business address as a carpenter in 1810. 120 Tottenham Court Road is on the west side of the street, within 100 meters of Maple Street, where the Fitzroy chapel was before its destruction in 1945. In the early 19th century, Baron Southampton was the major owner of the buildings and land on the west side of Tottenham Court Road, whereas the Duke of Bedford was the owner of the premises on the east side.

Edmund senior died in January 1818 in the parish of St. Pancras, but was buried in the nearby St James parish church in Westminster, rather than in the parish of St Pancras. Nine years later, his widow Anne also died as a resident of St Pancras in 1827, and was buried at St James parish church in Westminster, presumably in the same grave as her husband Edmund Warne senior.

The Warnes and the Stannards: a triple wedding

Edmund Warne junior (1783-1870), the father of Frederick Warne married Matilda Stannard (1787 -1863) at St Anne’s Soho in Westminster on 18th May 1805. Remarkably, two of Edmund’s brothers William Warne and George Darling Warne married two of Matilda Stannard’s sisters at the same church on the same day: William Warne (1780-1863) married Mary Elizabeth Stannard (1781-1837) and George Darling Warne (1782-1843) married Ann Stannard (1785-1852). The three Stannard sisters were the daughters of Robert Alexander Stannard (1757-1823) and Martha Negus (1764-1819). Robert and Martha had also married at St Anne’s Soho on 29 October 1780 and had eight children, six daughters and two sons. Robert Alexander Stannard was a painter and glazier by trade. He was originally from Norfolk and was probably born in Norwich. His father Robert Stannard seems to have moved the family from Norfolk to London in the 1770s.

The Stannard family lived at 16 Ryder Court in Soho, the same court where Edmund Warne junior and George Darling Warne set up as carpenters together at number 5, specialising in the manufacture of “reeded handrails for staircases”, and where George Routledge, at number 11, established his first book business in London. Ryder’s Court, which no longer exists, was just to the north of Leicester Square and was owned in the early 19th century by the Marquis of Salisbury.

It seems that the Warne brothers set up their carpentry business in Ryders Court because they had married the Stannard sisters who were already living there, as there was no record of the Warne brothers’ business in Ryder’s Court in the tenant’s list for 1806, the year following their marriages, but the name Warne does appear on the tenant’s list for 1808 and Edmund and George Darling Warne are listed as carpenters in Ryder’s Court in a trade directory for 1810. Rental records show that George and Edmond Warne were joint tenants from 1812 until 1817, but that by 1820, only Edmund Warne was recorded as the tenant of 5 Ryder’s Court. George Darling Warne had moved with his family to St. Pancras by 1820, perhaps to live with his widowed mother. By 1825, he lived at 8 Mill Street, St George Hanover Square, now part of Mayfair, where he remained until his death in 1843.

Later years of Edmund Warne

Edmund Warne 1784 – 1870

Edmund Warne lived with his growing family at 5 Ryder’s Court from 1806 until 1827, when the family moved to live at 41 Lisle Street, with his business located next door at 42 Lisle Street. Edmund and his family were recorded at 41 Lisle Street in the March 30th 1851 census. At this time, Edmund was describing himself as a builder and surveyor. Only the two youngest children were still living with their parents: Frederick Warne, described as “bookseller”, and Rosa Margaret Warne. Rosa Margaret married on 29 April 1851 and left home, and Frederick Warne married in July 1852. Edmund and Matilda were still at Lisle Street in 1858, but by 1861, they had moved to Tottenham in North London, where they lived in a house in the Green Lanes area that Edmund called Newent Villa, as a reminder of his birth place. He was still apparently working as a surveyor when his wife Matilda died at home on 28th August 1863. Seven years later, Edmund Warne died at Newent Villa in February 1870 and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery on 24th February 1870.

In the next post, I will look at how the Warne and Routledge families started together in the book trade.

The Routledge and Warne publishing families: Part 1.

Routledge and Warne: Two publishing families

George Routledge (1812-1888) and Frederick Warne (1825-1901) started two of the leading publishing houses that operated in Britain from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. The two men had both professional and personal connections; they also shared a commitment to make available hundreds of thousands of inexpensive books of high quality to the readership of the English speaking world. This is the first part of their story as men, booksellers and publishers.

Publishing fiction in the 19th century

For most of the 19th century, publishing of high quality fiction in England was dominated by a small group of established publishers who were committed to production of new fiction in the form of the three volume edition (known as a triple decker), which was sold for 31 shillings and sixpence (a guinea and a half). This format and price survived for most the 19th century, starting in the Regency period, when Jane Austen’s works were first published, and ending around 1896.

The three volume format was very much supported and encouraged by the circulating lending libraries, of which Mudie’s Subscription Library was the dominant player. Mudie’s alone would often purchase, at a considerable discount, 30-50% of the edition of a new book, and would lend it to their subscribers, one volume at a time.

The leading publishers for most of this era were the big seven; Chapman and Hall, Smith, Elder and Co., Longmans in their various guises, John Murray, Blackwoods, Macmillans, and Bradbury and Evans. These seven firms managed to publish most of the significant new fiction of the 19th century. In spite of the introduction of serialisation by several of these publishers, led by Chapman and Hall with Dickens’ “Pickwick Papers” in 1837, they were all committed to the triple decker. The two big university presses, Oxford with the Clarendon Press and the Cambridge University Press, did not enter the world of fiction until the end of the 19th century. Until then, they had confined their efforts to publishing academic and religious books, including their domination of the lucrative bible trade.

Second rank publishers

The second level of publishers tended to specialise in cheaper reprinted editions. Routledge and Warne were in this group, along with Richard Bentley, Cassells, and, later on, Thomas Nelson and a host of others. By 1860, there were more than 200 publishers operating in London alone, and at least 600 booksellers. Another 20 publishers operated out of Edinburgh, which was the centre of the book trade in Scotland. This might seem to suggest a high level of competition, but the trade was careful not to rock the boat and had become very conservative. The second rank publishers had to create their own niches in order to thrive. Into this world stepped George Routledge and Frederick Warne.

George Routledge

Family origins

George Routledge was born on 23rd September 1812 in Brampton, Cumberland (now called Cumbria), a small market town close to the Scottish border. It is 15km north-east of Carlisle and only 3km from Hadrian’s Wall. His father, Robert Francis Routledge, had also been born in Brampton on 17th June 1760. Little is known about the origins of Robert’s father and Georges’s grandfather, a John Routledge, who had been born somewhere in Scotland around 1730. John Routledge moved down to Cumberland as a young man and on 15th July 1752, he married a member of a Cumberland branch of the Routledge family, Sybil or Sybella Routledge in Bewcastle, Cumberland. Sibil had been born in Bewcastle on 2nd October 1726, the daughter of another John Routledge from Lanercost, a small village in Cumberland 5km north-east of Brampton. Bewcastle is small hamlet of fewer than 500 inhabitants, which nestles in a valley some 8km northeast of Lanercost, very close to the Scottish border. St Cuthbert’s church in Bewcastle, where John and Sibil Routledge were married, is famous today for having in its churchyard the oldest Anglo-Saxon standing stone cross and sundial in Britain.

All of this means that George Routledge is descended from both a Scottish and an English branch of the Routledge family. Descendants of those families can be found today in the region, still bearing the Routledge name on both sides of the Scottish-English border.

George’s immediate family

George’s mother was Mary Calvert (1766-1843), the daughter of Robert Calvert of Lanercost. Mary Calvert and Robert Francis Routledge were married on 7th January 1796 in Lanercost, and had eight children born between 1797 and 1812, one of whom, Catherine, died in infancy. George Routledge was the youngest of these eight children.

Life must have become much harder for George’s mother Mary, who was always known as “Malley”, when her husband Robert Francis died on 12th July 1815, leaving Malley with 7 children to care for, from the three year old George up to the oldest child, Mary Routledge who was 18 when her father died. Three years later, young Mary Routledge married a local farm worker called David Latimer, with whom she had 10 children in Brampton, leaving Malley with a family of six to manage.

Mally ran a grocery shop in Front Street, Brampton in order to support herself and her children. Two of her daughters Margaret and Anne never married and helped her to run the shop, taking it over when Malley died in 1843, and running between them until the late 1870s. Margaret and Ann Routledge eventually died as spinsters in Brampton in 1880 and 1881 respectively.

George had three older brothers who all married and had diverse careers. The eldest, John Routledge (1800-1859) stayed in Brampton with his wife Rachel and their two daughters. John was the High Constable in Brampton for the last 20 years of his life. The next brother, Robert Routledge (1802-1861) married a Scot called Mary Dicks in Perthshire, where they had one child, a son also called Robert. The family moved to Manchester, where Robert worked as a supervisor in the Inland Revenue until his death. George’s third brother, William Routledge (1804-1875) took holy orders and achieved a Doctor of Divinity. Together with his wife, Henrietta, William ran “The Routledge Classical School” for several years in Bishops Hull, Somerset , before reverting to life as a parish clergyman, ending up as the Rector of Cotleigh in Devon, where he died in the rectory in March 1875. William and Henrietta successfully raised two daughters and two sons, the youngest of whom became the Reverend Charles Francis Routledge following on in his father’s profession.

From this history it is evident that none of George’s siblings had anything to do with the book trade, or with London. So, how did George Routledge become a bookseller and publisher in London?

George Routledge, bookseller

George Routledge moved from Brampton to nearby Carlisle in June 1827, where he became apprenticed to Charles Hutchinson Thurnam, a Scot from Edinburgh, who had opened a bookshop and library at 5 English Street in 1817. George completed his apprenticeship on 3rd September 1833, and he moved to London in October 1833. Thurnam and Sons bookshop and printing business in Carlisle continued to operate for nearly 200 years until, unfortunately, the business failed and was closed on May 28th 2008.

In London, George initially lived in Ryder’s Court in St. Anne’s parish in Soho. This area of Soho was very much a district of craftsmen and artisans in the early part of the 19th century. Ryder’s Court is no longer extant, but used to run south towards Leicester Square from the junction of Lisle Street and Newport Street. The area is now part of London’s Chinatown.

George started his life in London by working for the publishers Baldwin and Cradock at 47 Paternoster Row in the centre of the London book trade. Robert Baldwin with his partners Craddock and Joy were most successful in publishing maps and atlases under the rubric of The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. When Baldwin and Cradock failed in September 1836, George Routledge decided to open a bookshop at 11 Ryder’s Court, from where he also started to operate as an occasional publisher.

In my collection, I have several books published by George Routledge from Ryder’s Court. The oldest is Beauties of Gilsland – A Sketch of the Most Remarkable Objects Near Gilsland Spa by William Steele, which was published by Routledge in late 1836. This was in fact the first book ever published by George Routledge.

Gilsland Spa was a well known hotel in Gilsland, a village which sits on Hadrian’s Wall and spans the boundary between Cumberland and Northumberland. The hotel had been built in 1760, and was the place where Sir Walter Scott, then plain Walter Scott, was reputed to have proposed to his future wife in 1797 at the “Popping Stone”. Routledge would have known the area from his youth, as Gilsland is about 15km east of Brampton. The author, William Steele, may have been known to George Routledge from his time in Cumberland. There were at least five men called William Steele living in the northern parts of Cumberland according to the 1841 census. Any one of these could have been the author of the book.

My copy of the book seems to be in the original cloth binding that Routledge would have chosen. The title page is shown in the picture below. Sadly, the book was a commercial failure, but now is a great scarcity. Note that the date on the title page is given in the Latin form of “M DCCCXXXVI” rather than “1836”. This is slightly unusual, as most books published by Routledge used standard Arabic numerals for their dates.

Routledge meets the Warne family

One of George’s neighbours in Soho was Edmund Warne (1783-1870), a builder who had lived at 5 Ryder’s Court. Edmund the builder had been born in Gloucestershire, the son of another Edmund Warne, a carpenter who had moved his family from Gloucestershire to London in the late 1780s, when the younger Edmund was about 5 years old. Edmund the builder had married a Matilda Stannard in 1805 and had lived with his growing family at 5 Ryder’s Court from 1805 until 1827, when the family moved nearby to 41 Lisle Street, which is where they were living when George Routledge arrived in Soho. The Warne family remained at 41 Lisle Street until at least 1851. By 1861, when all their children had grown up and left home, Edmund and Matilda had moved to Hornsea in North London. Matilda Stannard was very much a local Soho girl, as she was the daughter of Robert Alexander Stannard, a painter who lived at 16 Ryder’s Court.

The earliest evidence of George Routledge’s presence in Soho and of his relationship with the Warne family is his signature as a witness on the 1834 will of Robert Alexander Warne (1808-1834), the oldest but short-lived son of Edmund Warne and Matilda Stannard.

George Routledge’s signature on the will of Robert Alexander Warne, 1834

Edmund and Matilda were to become more significant in the life of George Routledge, as they were also the parents of George Routledge’s first wife, Marie Elizabeth Warne, and his first two business partners William Henry Warne and Frederick Warne.

End of Part 1.

The story continues with an exploration of origins of the Warne family in Part 2.

Emma takes to the West End stage

An exploration of the first London stage production of Jane Austen’s Emma

The novels of Jane Austen have been the basis of many dramatic performances from the first home theatrical extracts arranged by Rosina Filippi and published by J M Dent in 1895, to the modern adaptations of the novels for the movie and television industries. The first full play to appear as a dramatic adaptation was a version of Pride and Prejudice published in 1906, and several more adaptations of this novel have continued to appear over the subsequent 100 years, including, in 1936, Miss Elizabeth Bennet by A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie-the-pooh.

Dramatic versions of Emma

The first full dramatic version of Emma to be published was Romances by Emma by DeWitt Bodeen in 1938, which was first performed in Pasadena, California. This was followed by Emma by Marion Morse MacKaye; the play was written in 1937 but the author died before its first publication by Macmillan and first performance at the North Dakota Agricultural College, both occurring in 1941. The first English dramatisation of Emma was a three act play called Emma, written by John Lindsey and Ronald Russell, which was published by the theatrical script publisher Samuel French in 1943 and first produced at The Little Theatre in Bristol in March of the same year.

The first London production of Emma

The first production of Emma to appear in a theatre in London was a three act play, Emma, written by Gordon Glennon and published by Macmillan in 1945. Before coming to St James’s Theatre in London, the play had a successful regional tour, opening with performances in Rugby in August 1943 and including a popular and critically acclaimed season in Manchester before the first London performance on 7th February 1945. The play was produced by the popular film star Robert Donat, who worked as a theatrical promotor during the Second World War. The play had a cast of 12 actors, led by Anna Neagle, (1904-1986), a popular starlet who had started as a stage dancer but who had achieved recent film successes in the title roles of films about Nell Gwyn (1935), Queen Victoria (1937 and 1938) and Edith Cavell (1939). As well as a very good copy of the first Macmillan edition of Emma (1945) in dust jacket, I also have a copy of the program for the London season of the play, which was only moderately successful at around 60 performances.

The play, which ran in London from February to April 1945 was in competition with air raids from Hitler’s Vengeance weapons, the V1 “Doodlebug” and the V2 rocket designed by Wernher von Braun. A V2 exploded very close to the theatre during one evening performance. There is interesting advice in the program to the theatre patrons on how to react to an air raid, which I have reproduced below.

Emma the play

The play is structured into three acts, with Act 1 consisting of a single scene and Acts 2 and 3 both arranged as two scenes each. The program tells us that the events take place in 1815. All of the action of the play occurs on the same set, which represents the Woodhouse’s drawing room at Hartfield. This means that we hear about events that occur elsewhere, such as Harriet’s encounter with the gypsies, and the Weston’s ball, all during conversations in the drawing room, and that Mr. Elton’s attempted proposal to Emma, Frank Churchill’s misapprehended conversation to Emma about Jane Fairfax and Emma’s insulting remark to Miss Bates all are arranged to occur within the Woodhouse’s drawing room.

The dialogue of the play is sometimes close to the original words of the novel and at other times diverges quite considerably. For instance, here from Act 2 Scene 2 of the play is Glennon’s version of the remark by Miss Bates which provokes Emma’s insult, followed by Emma’s unfortunate response:

Miss Bates: Oh, that will not be difficult. I shall be sure to say three dull things as soon as I open my mouth.

Emma: (unable to resist) Ah, madam, but you will be limited as to the number – only three at once.

Emma Act 2 Scene 2.

This is a considerable contraction of the original dialogue from Chapter 43 of Emma, which takes place during the outing to Box Hill. It diminishes the prolix nature of Miss Bates’ conversation. Here is the original as written by Jane Austen:

“Oh! very well,” exclaimed Miss Bates; “then I need not be uneasy. ‘Three things very dull indeed.’ That will just do for me, you know. I shall be sure to say three dull things as soon as ever I open my mouth, shan’t I?” looking round with the most good-humoured dependence on everyone’s assent. “Do you not all think I shall ?”

Emma could not resist.

Ah, ma’am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me, but you will be limited as to the number – only three at once.

Emma, Chapter XLIII

I leave the reader to judge how well or otherwise Mr. Glennon has done with this famous passage.

Images from the play

Both the program and the book of the play give the original cast list. I have reproduced the version from the program below. I am not aware of any changes to the cast during the play’s short London run. I assume that this program, which cost 6d, was held by a woman, as the red smudge, seen alongside Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton, appears to be lipstick!

I had wondered what the set and actors looked like and how authentic the costumes were. I have recently been fortunate enough to gain some insight into this. I have just received a copy of an edition of Emma published in 1890 by George Routledge and Sons Ltd. The Irish dealer who I bought it from had described the book as having “some newspaper cuttings stuck to the front prelims”. Imagine my delight to discover that these cuttings were pictures taken from a magazine of the London production of Gordon Glennon’s Emma, with Anna Neagle and the rest of the cast as listed above. Photos of Mr. Elton’s proposal to Emma, Frank Churchill’s non-proposal to Emma and Mr. Knightley’s proposal to Emma are shown below.

Left: Mr Elton and Emma. Centre: Frank Churchill and Emma. Right: Mr. Knightley and Emma

The play ends with the whole ensemble on stage, with everyone asked to toast the three future brides, Jane Fairfax, Harriet Smith and Emma Woodhouse in turn. Note that Glennon has decreed that Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax will marry. Also note that Robert Martin does not get an appearance in this version of Emma. Below is the picture of that final final toasting scene.

From the left we can see:

Miss Bates; Frank and Jane; Mr. Woodhouse; Mrs. Weston; Emma; Mr. Weston; Harriet; Serle; Mr. Knightley; Mrs. and Mr. Elton

For more information on the representations of Emma on stage, I suggest that you view the entertaining video presentation by Professor Devoney Looser at the 2020 Virtual JaneCom which can be viewed on You Tube.

More about interesting books relating to Jane Austen will be posted shortly.

Robinson Crusoe for Younger readers

Note: In this and linked posts, I have recrafted some material from earlier posts to improve navigation.

Robinson Crusoe as a book for Juveniles

Defoe intended his book to be a moral tale that showed how a rather reckless youth can become a thoughtful, religious and worthy man, by application to work and devotion to the scriptures. The original text by Defoe contains many sections of religious or philosophical ruminations, that can make the book quite heavy going for the younger or indeed the modern reader. It was first recognised by a German writer that Robinson Crusoe contained the kernel of an exciting story for younger people. Accordingly, in 1779, Joachim Heinrich Campe translated and edited Defoe’s work to produce Robinson der Jüngere (Robinson the Younger). Campe followed this with a similar treatment of The Farther Adventures published as a second volume in 1780.

These two books came to the attention of the London publisher John Stockdale, who translated them back into English, and then published them in two volumes as The New Robinson Crusoe An Instructive and Entertainment History for the Use of Children of Both Sexes (1788). Stockdale claimed to have translated the book from a French text, but it was clearly a translation of Campe’s German texts. In the following year, Stockdale published a simplified single volume version of this treatment of Robinson Crusoe as a book for children as An Abridgement of The New Robinson Crusoe An Instructive and Entertainment History for the Use of Children of Both Sexes (1789). This was the real start in English of Robinson Crusoe as an adventure book for the younger reader. It is interesting that these two publications by Stockdale predate by one and two years his famous two volume illustrated edition of Robinson Crusoe for adult readers.

Here follows a link to a posting about my copy of An Abridgement of The New Robinson Crusoe An Instructive and Entertainment History for the Use of Children of Both Sexes (1789) and here is a link to a post about my copy of a related reprint published by George Routledge called Robinson the Younger or the New Crusoe (1856).

Since then, there have been many versions of Robinson Crusoe that have been specifically published for the juvenile market. There are editions in simplified language, indeed a couple written in words of one syllable, excluding the personal names. There also continues to be many illustrated editions published for the younger reader, and some more deluxe illustrated editions that were probably intended for the children and adults of wealthy families. The story has also been translated into many different languages over the years.

All of these juvenile editions are based on the first volume of Robinson Crusoe as written by Defoe, which culminates with Crusoe’s escape from the island and his return to England. Some editions may also contain material taken from “The Farther Adventures” that made up the original second volume written by Defoe, particularly the sections describing the return of Crusoe to the island. None of the juvenile editions that I have seen contain material from the more rarefied and philosophical volume 3 of Defoe.

Robinson the Younger 1856

Robinson the Younger or the New Crusoe published in 1856

This version of Robinson Crusoe from my collection was specifically produced for the juvenile reader as Robinson the Younger, and was published by George Routledge & Co. in London in 1856. The upper board, which is the original gilt-decorated cloth binding, and both the engraved and the printed title pages are shown below.

The printed title page reveals that this is an English translation of Robinson der Jüngere (1779) by Joachim Heinrich Campe, the first juvenile version of the story of Robinson Crusoe ever published, which was discussed in a previous Robinson Crusoe blog. My copy is the second Routledge edition of 1856, the first edition having appeared in 1855. There seems also to have been a third edition published in 1859. All three editions are scarce, but the text is available in electronic form in several libraries.

The book has two prefaces; a translator’s preface and some extracts from an unattributed author’s preface, which is presumably a translation of part of a preface written in German by Campe in 1779. The translator R. Hick explained how he came to translate Campe’s book as follows:

The original work of which the following is a translation, fell accidentally into my hands when looking for an entertaining German reading book. I was presently struck with its admirable adaptation for the use of children, and once resolved to translate it for my own little boys; during the progress of my agreeable task I now and then read what I had written, sometimes to my wife, sometimes to friends, who one and all strongly recommended my offering it for publication.

Translator’s Preface, Robinson the Younger, George Routledge & Co. London 1856

He finished by writing:

I have endeavoured as much as possible to render it simply what it professes to be, a faithful image of the admirable original, the worth of which has been emphatically stamped by the German public having demanded upwards of forty large editions of it.

R.Hick Woodhouse Hill, Near Leeds, 1855.

The image on the engraved title page in the central panel above shows a man reading from a book to his family grouped around him. This is how Robinson der Jüngere  and Robinson the Younger are both structured, with the story being read out to the children by the father as a narrative interrupted by frequent questions from the children. I give an example of this below, with the famous incident of the discovery by Robinson of the footprint. This is from the chapter headed “Fourteenth Evening.”

“He had not gone far when he reached the most southerly part of the island. Here the ground in some parts was sandy, and just as he reached the most prominent point, he was struck almost as with a thunderbolt, became as white as a sheet, and trembled all over.

John.- Why?

Papa.- He saw what he never dreamed of seeing here, the footprints of one or more men in the sand.

Nicholas.- And did that frighten him so? Why, it should have delighted him!

Papa.- The cause of his terror was this : he concluded at once that the man of whose foot this was the print, was not a brother or a friend, who would be ready to help and serve him; but a cruel creature, who would fall upon him in a fury, and would kill and eat him. In a word, he saw in this, not the trace of a polished European, but of a savage cannibal, like those of whom you have heard in the Caribbee Islands.

George.- Ah! That I believe, and so he must have been frightened.”

from Robinson the Younger, George Routledge & Co. London, 1856, pp 117-118.

My copy of the book has no illustrations other than its frontispiece, shown below. The Robinson Crusoe depicted seems decidedly older than the young man described in the text.

Frontispiece from Robinson the Younger, George Routledge and Co. London, second edition 1856

In the next blog postings, I will discuss some other 19th century editions of Robinson Crusoe that I have in my collection.

The New Robinson Crusoe 1789

This is my copy of the 1789 John Stockdale single volume abridged edition of The New Robinson Crusoe. It is correctly titled An Abridgement of The New Robinson Crusoe An Instructive and Entertainment History for the Use of Children of Both Sexes (1789), and is a condensation of Stockdale’s 4 volume edition which was published in the previous year 1788. Stockdale claimed to have translated the book from a French text, but it was clearly a translation of Joachim Heinrich Campe’s 1779 German text Robinson der Jüngere (Robinson the Younger). As can be seen from the title page below, the one volume abridgement could be purchased for two shillings and sixpence in 1789, a bargain compared to the 6 shilling price of the 4 volume edition, specially as all 32 illustrations from the 4 volume set are present in the single volume abridgement.

The Abridgement was the real start in English of Robinson Crusoe as an adventure book for the younger reader. As with Campe’s 1779 version, the essential elements of Robinson Crusoe have been incorporated into a story-telling narrative, where a father is telling the story to his children, who constantly interrupt the flow with a barrage of questions and comments. In spite of this rather clumsy structure, the essence of the story comes through surprisingly well. The later Routledge reprints of the New Robinson Crusoe are all clearly based on this 1789 edition of Stockdale.

John Bewick illustrations

The text was generously illustrated with full page wood engravings that had been drawn and engraved by John Bewick (1760-1795), the younger brother of the legendary master of wood engraving, Thomas Bewick. John Bewick died aged 35, where his famous older brother lived to be 75, leaving the Stockdale New Robinson Crusoe one of a relatively small number of books featuring illustrations by John Bewick. The illustrations are in a naive style which had been traditionally used for Robinson Crusoe. The Stothard illustrations for Stockdale’s complete Robinson Crusoe published in the next year (1790) are much more refined and sophisticated, and are generally agreed to represent the first well illustrated Crusoe to be published. A few of John Bewick’s illustrations from The New Robinson Crusoe are shown below.

It is interesting that in Stockdale’s edition of The New Robinson Crusoe, as in the original Campe edition, it is llamas that are tamed by Crusoe rather than goats. John Bewick’s illustrations show a llama in the last two panels above. The last panel shows Bewick’s interpretation of the famous incident of Crusoe finding strange footprints in the sand.


My 1789 copy of The New Robinson Crusoe has an interesting provenance. There is a bookplate for the George Barnes B.D., the Archdeacon of Bombay, on the first front free endpaper. The book also has an inscription on the second front free endpaper which reads “George Barnes, from his Papa, March 1826”. The book has been rebound, but I also have the original boards which have another inscription on the old front paste down which reads “Adelaide Penelope Barnes” and ” Miss Adelaide Barnes, The Rectory, Sowton, Exeter”. These three pieces of ownership evidence are shown below in Figure 3.

The simplest explanation of these three images is that they represent the book passing through the hands of three members of the Barnes family. I think that the original owner of the book was the Reverend George Barnes (1782-1847), who travelled out to India to become the inaugural Archdeacon of Bombay in 1815 and who founded the Barnes School in Bombay. He was 7 years old when the book was published and probably was given it around that time, when he was living in Devon. He returned to England to become the rector at Sowton, near Exeter in 1825. He cannot be the George Barnes who received the book from his Papa in March 1826, because his “Papa”, Ralph Barnes (1731-1820) was already dead by then. The George Barnes who received the book in March 1826 must be the Reverend George Barnes’ eldest son, George Carnac Barnes (1818-1861) who had been born in India but returned to England with his parents in 1825. George Carnac Barnes would have been 8 years old in 1826. He joined the East India Company in 1836 and went out to India in 1837. He returned to India following his marriage in London in 1856, and distinguished himself as the Commissioner of the main army depot at Amballa cantonment in Haraya state during the Indian Mutiny, for which service he was made a Companion of the Bath (CB). He was briefly Foreign Secretary for India in 1861 and died in Hazareebough, in Bengal, also in 1861.

Adelaide Penelope Barnes (1831-1913) was the third youngest of the ten children of the Reverend George Barnes. She was born in Sowton Rectory , following the family’s return from India in 1825 and lived there until her father’s death in 1847, at which time she and her unmarried siblings moved with their widowed mother to nearby Littleham in Devon. She must have written her name and address in the book before her father’s death in June 1847, when she would have been 16 years old. My guess is that the book possibly passed from her older brother George Carnac Barnes to Adelaide Penelope sometime around 1836-37.

In July 1852, the 21 year old Adelaide Penelope Barnes married a 36 year old Indian army officer who became Lt. General Edward Dayot Watson (1816-1900). They had 5 children born in India before they returned to England in 1868, where two further children were born. Adelaide died in Bath, Somerset in 1913 at the age of 82.

Finally, there is a faint inscription in pencil beneath Adelaide’s upper signature which in part seems to read “Barnes George James.” Beneath that may be the words “Stapylton Barnes”, which should belong to the descendants of George Carnac Barnes. All three children of George Carnac Barnes and his wife Margaret Diana Chetwyn-Stapylton had the name Stapylton Barnes. So far, I can not positively identify any particular member of the Barnes family with this inscription. The book may have changed hands within the family several times and moved from England to India and back more than once, but it is impossible to confirm that.

Figure 4. George James Barnes?

There are two other interesting people in the Barnes family. The eldest son of George Carnac Barnes was Sir George Stapylton Barnes (1858-1946), who was born at Amballa cantonment shortly after the Indian Mutiny. He became a politician and was the President of the Board of Trade. He may be the Stapylton Barnes referred to in Figure 4, but there is no evidence to suggest that he also had the name James.

The youngest son of Adelaide Penelope Barnes was Reverend Harry de Vitre Watson (1872-1947) who married Mabel Katherine Knatchbull-Hugesson (1868-1944), the grand daughter of Fanny Austen Knight, the favourite niece of Jane Austen. In Figure 5, there are portraits of some of the members of the Barnes family.

In a related posting, I discuss my copy of the 1856 Routledge reprint of The New Robinson Crusoe, which only had a single illustration. In the next posting, I will look at some other illustrated editions of Robinson Crusoe from the 19th century.

Robinson Crusoe: 100 more years

Early 19th century editions


Robinson Crusoe continued to be very popular throughout Europe in the early years of the 19th century, with many publishers adding to the growing list of editions. For example, in 1820, Cadell and Davies published an edition which featured re-engraved versions of the Stothard illustrations that had been first published by James Harrison in 1782 and in extended form in 1790 by John Stockdale. In that same year (1820), Tute published an edition of Robinson Crusoe in Dublin, Garney and Le Fuel separately published editions in Paris, and Castiaux and Blocquel published another French edition in Lille. In the following year, at least three more editions were published in Paris followed by another two in 1822, while in London, in 1822, Charles Whittingham and Thomas Kelley each published two volume editions of Robinson Crusoe, Whittingham’s being another reprint of his edition of 1812. None of these editions were specifically published for juvenile readers.

Harvey and Darton edition 1831

The earliest 19th century edition that I have in my collection is from 1831. It was published as a single volume in London by Harvey and Darton, but was not alone, as at least three other editions appeared in London that year; a new single volume edition published by J.F. Dove; an 1818 edition re-published in 1831 by Baldwin and Craddock in two volumes with illustrations by Harvey, and another new edition published in two volumes by John Major, with illustrations by George Cruickshank, who would win everlasting fame a few years later with his illustrations for Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. 1831 also saw the appearance in the USA of a much republished edition of Robinson Crusoe by Key and Mielke of Philadelphia, with illustrations by William Robinson. A notable Italian edition was also published in 1831 by Gaspare Truffi in Milano.

In the pictures below, I show some images of my Harvey and Darton edition of 1831.

Keen Jane Austen fans might notice that Harvey and Darton’s offices were in Gracechurch Street, which is the street where the Gardiner family from Pride and Prejudice lived. Gracechurch Street still exists and now finds itself in the shadow of “The Gherkin”, one of London’s newer monstrosities. It must be said that most of London’s publishers at the time were clustered around Covent Garden, St. Paul’s churchyard and The Strand. Gracechurch Street was more mercantile in character and was to the south east, a little way from the publishing heart of the city.

The other notable facet of the title page is that there is no credit given to Daniel Defoe as the author. The reason can be deduced from the images of the two page preface shown below, where the anonymous “Editor” is trying to persuade the reader that the story is a true account of the adventures of a real man, a “just history of fact” rather than a “romance”.

Needless to say, there is no “Life of Defoe” printed with this edition. It seems to me remarkable that, more than 100 years after Defoe was first identified as the author of Robinson Crusoe, it was still possible to publish in London an edition that continues the pretense of the 1719 first edition that the story was a true history. This edition was reprinted in 1842 in a similar form by Harvey and Darton.

The illustrations in the Harvey and Darton edition are dated 1831, but are not credited to a particular artist. In addition to the frontispiece shown above, there are four other plates that are produced in a deliberately archaic form with two images per plate enclosed in an ornamental border, reminiscent of some of the cheaper style of chapbook illustrations of the 18th century. They are shown below.

The text in this edition is a condensation of the first two volumes of Robinson Crusoe, as published by Taylor in 1719. It is very much in a style designed for the adult rather than the juvenile reader. To learn how Robinson Crusoe was developed as a book for children, please read this next post.