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.

Robinson Crusoe: The original inspiration of Ripping Yarns


Many of the heroic boy’s adventure novels of the Victorian and Edwardian eras owe their existence to the influence of Robinson Crusoe, even though it was certainly not originally written as a stirring adventure story for boys. In this post, I will discuss Robinson Crusoe and how it came to be in the form that many of us are now very familiar with. In subsequent posts, I will explore how Robinson Crusoe became a children’s book and will examine the influence of Robinson Crusoe on later authors.

Frontispiece and title page of the first edition of Robinson Crusoe (1719)

The First Edition

The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner, to give a shorter form of its very long title was published by W. Taylor at the Sign of the Ship in Paternoster Row, London on 25th April 1719. It was advertised on the title page as “Written by Himself“, no doubt to give the impression that it was a true story, but as we all now know, it was written by a London-based puritan non-conformist writer, journalist, merchant and adventurer, Daniel Defoe (c1660 – 1731). The book was instantly a popular success and sold out four editions before the end of 1719. A rather less successful sequel, The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe was published in August 1719, which was followed in 1720 by a final sequel Serious Reflections during the Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe: With his Vision of the Angelik World, which was, perhaps unsurprisingly, even less successful that The Farther Adventures. Some reprinted editions appeared which contained all three books, but eventually only the original volume, with sometimes elements of The Farther Adventures were frequently republished under the title Robinson Crusoe.

Some people claim that Robinson Crusoe was the first novel written in English; others would claim that Aphra Behn’s novella Oroonoko (1688) better deserves that accolade. What most critics would agree is that Robinson Crusoe was the first great novel in English. Robinson Crusoe‘s influence is underscored by the fact that it has never been out of print during the last 300 years, and that it has been translated into hundreds of languages. Indeed, it appeared in Amsterdam in a French translation as early as 1720, which contained several illustrations as well as a frontispiece. In that same year, 1720, the first German translation was also published.

The Story

The basic story is very familiar to many people today, even if they have never read the book. Crusoe, a young man of 18, leaves his parental home to seek adventure and fortune at sea. He is shipwrecked, captured by Moorish slavers, but escapes by small boat to the coast of West Africa, where he is rescued by a Portuguese ship and taken to Brasil, where he lives as a plantation owner for several years. He heads out to sea again on a slaving voyage but is shipwrecked again off the coast of Venezuela, on an imaginary island set between the mouth of the Orinoco river and the large island of Trinidad. He learns to be self sufficient on the island and survives alone there for many years before he see a footprint, evidence of the presence of another human. He discovers that his island is occasionally visited by groups of cannibals who feast on their prisoners during their stay. He watches for their return and rescues one of the prisoners, who he calls Friday, for the day of his release, and proceeds to teach Friday English language and culture and converts him to Christianity. A few years later, Crusoe and Friday attack another visiting group of cannibals, and liberate two prisoners, who turn out to be Friday’s father and a Spaniard. Eventually, Crusoe and Friday are rescued by a visiting English ship, after Crusoe helps the captain defeat his mutinous crew. Crusoe returns to England after more than 35 years have elapsed since his departure.

The Classic Stockdale Edition of 1790

John Stockdale of London published a new two volume edition of the original Defoe text of the first two volumes of Robinson Crusoe in 1790. This edition was adorned with the first satisfactory and realistic set of illustrations for the book, which were created by Thomas Stothard. The second volume concludes with a Life of Defoe by George Chalmers, together with an engraved portrait of Defoe which had first been published in 1703.

Several editions of Robinson Crusoe with Stothard’s illustrations were published by Stockdale over the next 15 years. Later editions by a range of publishers continued to use re-engraved versions of Thomas Stothard’s illustrations well into the first half of the 20th century. My copy of Stockdale’s original 1790 edition of Robinson Crusoe is shown below, together with some examples of Stothard’s illustrations.

Portrait and Life of Defoe, Stockdale’s Robinson Crusoe, Volume II, 1790.

Next time…

In the next several postings, I will look at some other later editions of Robinson Crusoe from my collection. I will also explore the origins of Robinson Crusoe as a book for children, and follow that by looking at the new genre created and inspired by Robinson Crusoe, the “Robinsonades”.

Return to Ripping Yarns: Adventure Books for Boys.

Ripping Yarns: Adventure books for boys

This is the first of a series of blogs looking at the history of the popular adventure books for boys that began to appear in the UK around 1840. Before this date, juvenile literature was educational, religious and improving, with the element of excitement and adventure conspicuously lacking. In the 1830s and 1840s this began to change, largely due to the influence of the almost exactly contemporary writers, James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) in the USA and Captain Frederick Marryat (1792-1848) in the UK.

As usual, I will be taking a book collecting approach, and will attempt to document the books written and published by the major authors within this genre. I will cover the period 1840 to 1940 and will mainly consider British authors and British editions. All of the books that I will show as examples will be chosen from my personal collection.

For those who would like to read more detailed material on this topic, I can recommend the excellent The Collector’s Book of Boy’s Stories by Eric Quayle (London: Studio Vista, 1973). Eric Quayle (1921-2001) was a lifelong book collector, who wrote four large, well-illustrated books on different aspects of his book collecting interests. Although Quayle’s four books were published nearly 50 years ago, they are still highly regarded and he remains the acknowledged expert reference source on books for boys. The four descriptive books by Quayle are shown in Figure 2 below. In addition to these four books, Eric Quayle also published a life and a separate bibliography of R.M. Ballantyne.

The main authors that I will cover in this series of blogs are:

  • Frederick Marryat
  • Robert Michael Ballantyne
  • William Henry Giles Kingston
  • Thomas Mayne Reid
  • Anna Bowman
  • George Alfred Henty
  • Herbert Strang
  • Frederick Sadlier Brereton
  • Percy Francis Westerman

I will be activating links to each author as I complete the relevant material. I am also preparing bibliographic lists of books for each author. To start this process, the list of books written by F.S. Brereton can be found here. In addition I plan to expand these blogs by considering some of the adventure books of Henry Rider Haggard and Robert Louis Stevenson. I will also cover a few examples from other authors who I think are deserving of note, such as D.H. Parry and G. Manville Fenn, but will not be discussing W.E. Johns, as I have never been either an admirer or a collector of Biggles (or Worrals for that matter.)

I hope you will enjoy this series of blog articles.

Sorting out The Ruby Series

Routledge One Shilling Gift Books for Boys and Girls

In my Price and Provenance series, I have referred to several undated editions of books published by Routledge and Sons, including several by Jane Austen. In this post, I am looking at the final blooming of The Ruby Series of books for juveniles.

The Ruby series started in the mid-1870s in some elegant binding styles. I discussed my copy of Mansfield Park from The Ruby Series of 1876 in Price and Provenance 2. Here is the binding as Figure 1.

Figure 1 The Ruby series from 1876.

In the 1890s, The Ruby Series re-emerged in a typical and cheaper late 19th century binding. An example is shown below as Figure 2 a. It is interesting to note that the 1892 Augusta Evans Wilson Series used the same binding (Figure 2b).

The decline of a family business.

At the very end of the 19th century, George Routledge and Sons underwent a great upheaval. The founder, George Routledge, had died in 1888, having already handed the business over to his two oldest sons, Robert and Edmond Routledge. However, both of the brothers died unexpectedly in 1899, leaving the firm leaderless. The third son of George Routledge’s first marriage, William Routledge, had died in 1885, three years before his father.

There was a fourth son, George Bell Routledge (1864-1934), who was the son of George Routledge and his second wife and was therefore the half-brother of Robert and Edmond Routledge. He had never been involved in the family publishing business. Instead, he had become a “gentleman” living off private income, and by 1898 he had moved from London to Cumberland, where he lived out his life in rural isolation for the next 35 years.

Robert and Edmond Routledge each had four sons working in the family firm in 1891, with Robert’s four sons described as publishers, and Edmond’s four somewhat younger sons described as publisher’s clerks. By 1901, not one of these eight third generation Routledges was still working in publishing. It is said that the deaths of Edmond and Robert Routledge in 1899 led to the near collapse of Routledge into bankrupcy. The New York office of Routledge was closed, and an arrangement for co-publishing with the New York firm of E P Dutton was agreed. George Routledge and Sons Limited was re-stuctured by an outside consortium in 1902, which appointed William Swan Sonnenschein as the managing director. George Routledge and Sons Limited continued to issue cheap reprints for another decade, until it was further revived by its merger with Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co in 1912. Certainly the quality of Routledge’s books had declined by the first decade of the 20th century.

The Ruby Series in the 20th Century

A cheaper Ruby Series was relaunched around the time of the 1902 restructuring of George Routledge and Sons Limited. A new uniform cloth binding was designed, and at least 53 titles were available for one shilling in 1904. In figure 3, you can see four of my Routledge Ruby Series books from the early 20th century.

Although these bindings may look identical at first glance, closer inspection reveals some small differences, other than the base colours. The title text at the top of the board is in white letters with black shadowing for the three left hand books, while the Leila or The Island on the right hand side book is in plain black letters. The spines, which are shown in Figure 4 below, have three with the title in gilt, but the Mansfield Park title is in plain black. Also, the two Jane Austen books have the author’s name on the spine, where the other two books have no author identified on the spine.

Figure 4. Spines of the four Ruby Series books

The title pages of the four books are shown in Figure 5 below. They also show a range of differences in appearance and expression of the address of the publisher. None of the title pages is dated.

All four of the books give the publisher as London| George Routledge and Sons Limited, which confirms that they all date from after 1890. Three of them have the Routledge colophon, which dates as 1903 or later. The Emma and Leila or The Island both express the publisher’s address as “Broadway House , Ludgate Hill”, whereas Mansfield Park has “Carter Lane, Ludgate Hill” as the address and The Basket of Flowers has “Broadway, Ludgate Hill”. None of the four books gives an address for a New York office. There are no inscribed dates in the books from previous owners, but the Leila or The Island has, bound in following the text, 32 pages of publisher’s advertisements for Routledge’s Juvenile Catalogue that are clearly dated 1904, and which also have E P Dutton and Co identified as the New York publishing partner. The title page for the advertisements is shown below as figure 6.

Figure 6. Routledge’s Juvenile Catalogue 1904

From all of the above information I would suggest that the best estimate of dates would be certainly 1904 for the Leila or The Island, probably 1904 for Emma, and a slightly later date of 1907 or 1908 for Mansfield Park, due to the use of “Carter Lane” in the address line. Examination of the first text pages of the four books is also instructive. They are shown in Figure 7 below.

Three of the four books have the standard chapter heading decorations seen in other Routledge books that had been reprinted from stereotype plates made in the 1880s that will be familiar to readers of some my other Price and Provenance posts. These three books also have standard illuminated first letters for each chapter, and an ornament to mark each chapter end.

The Basket of Flowers is different. It is a much higher quality production than the other three books, with better printing on higher quality paper and has many illustrations, both as full page illustrations and as vignettes. An example of this is shown below as figure 8.

The form of the address, “Broadway, Ludgate Hill”, the absence of the Routledge colophon and the higher quality of the paper and printing all lead me to place the publication date of The Basket of Flowers to 1900-1902.

The other useful information in the publisher’s advertisement block in Leila or The Island is a very full listing of the titles available in The Ruby Series in 1904. These two pages are shown below as figure 9.

Figure 9. The Ruby Series advertised in 1904

It is interesting to compare this list with an earlier advertisement from 1892 (Figure 10), which was on the front paste-down of the Inez shown in Figure 2b above. The list has 43 titles, most of which are also on the 1904 list shown in Figure 9 above.

Figure 10. 1892 advertisement listing of The Ruby Series

June 1st Update…

Today, I received in the mail a copy of Ben Hur by Lew Wallace, number 53 (and last) on the list of the Ruby Series shown in Figure 9 above. The purple binding and the title page are shown below as Figure 11.

The book title on the top board, which really is purple in colour, is in shadowed white text, like three of the four examples shown in Figure 3 above. The titles on the spine are in gilt and include the author’s name. The paper quality is rather poor, and the pages are quite heavily darkened throughout the book. There are four pages of advertisements for “George Routledge and Sons’ List of Novels” bound into the back of the book.

The title page is dated, and is given as 1902, with the publisher’s address as “Broadway, Ludgate Hill.” These observations help to confirm in my mind the earlier date range of 1900-1902 that I ascribed to The Basket of Flowers above. The higher quality of The Basket of Flowers leads me to favour 1900 or even 1898, rather than 1902.

I plan to continue to examine these types of series of cheap reprints published by Routledge through the period of the late 19th and early 20th century. These include a large number of series other than The Ruby Series, such as The Wilson Series, (see Price and Provenance 7), The Pansy Series, The Bessie Books, The Mildred Books, The Elsie Books, The Flag and Anchor Series and The Broadway Booklets, as well as the Every Boy’s Library, which runs to more than 70 volumes. Plenty more books to find!

Price and Provenance 12

Pride and Prejudice 3rd edition and the Crimean War

This posting is about my copy of the third edition of Pride and Prejudice and a link between its first owner and me, through the unlikely route of the Crimean War.

The First and Second Editions of Pride and Prejudice

The first three editions of Pride and Prejudice were all published by T. Egerton of Whitehall in London, who had also previously published Jane Austen’s first novel, Sense and Sensibility. Although Pride and Prejudice was published after Sense and Sensibility, it is generally agreed that the first draft of the novel, known to have been called First Impressions, was written before Sense and Sensibility. Jane’s sister, Cassandra Austen, reported that First Impressions was written between October 1796 and August 1797 at Steventon. Jane’s father, the Rev. George Austen, is known to have written to the London publisher Cadell about the manuscript on 1st November 1797, only to receive a rapid rejection of it sight unseen. We also know from letters that the family enjoyed readings of First Impressions in 1799. Before the publication of Sense and Sensibility, we know that Jane Austen returned to her “rejected” manuscript for major revisions around 1809-1810, changing the title as another author, Margaret Holford, had already published a novel called First Impressions in 1800. We know that the title Pride and Prejudice comes from the repeated use of the phrase on page 303 of Volume V of Fanny Burney’s Cecilia, a book that we know that Jane Austen possessed. After the successful publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811, Jane Austen famously “lopt and cropt” the manuscript of Pride and Prejudice in 1812, before selling the copyright to Egerton for 110 pounds.

The first edition of Pride and Prejudice was published in late January 1813 in three volumes in an edition of 1000 copies. Where the first edition of Sense and Sensibility was famously written “By a Lady”, Pride and Prejudice carried the by-line “By the Author of Sense and Sensibility.” Pride and Prejudice is first recorded in a newspaper advertisement published on 28th January 1813, where the novel was advertised as on sale for 18 shillings. Although positive reviews were published in February, March and April of that same year, its reputation was largely spread by word of mouth and there was much conjecture about the identity, and even the gender, of the author.

The first edition of Pride and Prejudice sold out in a few months, and the second editions of both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility were published by Egerton in late 1813. They were both in the original three volume format of the first editions, and although Jane Austen had made some slight changes to the second edition of Sense and Sensibility, it is believed that she had no opportunity to make any alterations to the second edition of Pride and Prejudice, and was not shown a proof. There are a few minor textural differences between the first and second editions of Pride and Prejudice that are generally explained as the correction of printer’s errors from the first edition, as well as the introduction of some new printer’s errors into the second. There is no definitive information on how many copies of the second edition were printed and sold, but the number is believed to be 1000 copies. David Gilson recorded in his bibliography that about 50 copies of the first edition and 25 copies of the second edition were known to have survived into the late 20th century.

The Third Edition of Pride and Prejudice

The third edition of Pride and Prejudice was the final edition of Jane Austen that was published by Egerton, following the first two editions of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice and the first edition of Mansfield Park in 1814. Indeed, it was in part the refusal of Egerton to publish a second edition of Mansfield Park that led to Henry Austen, Jane’s brother and de facto literary agent, to approach John Murray about the publication of the first edition of Emma and a second edition of Mansfield Park in 1816.

The third edition of Pride and Prejudice was published in 1817 as a two volume edition for 12 shillings. The precise date of publication is not known, and is of particular interest as Jane Austen died on July 18th 1817. Gilson reported knowledge of a copy with an inscription dated September 6th 1817, but more recently, a dealer has reported seeing a copy with an inscription from July 1817. There is no evidence that Jane Austen or any other member of the family had any input into the making of the third edition. The number of copies printed is not known, but is unlikely to be more than 1000. Gilson reported the existence of around 25 copies, including two in their original light blue binding.

To construct a two-volume version of Pride and Prejudice from the earlier three-volume versions required a renumbering of the chapters, as the chapter numbering was restarted for each volume. The first and second editions of Pride and Prejudice were made up as follows: Volume 1: Chapters 1-23; Volume 2: Chapters 1-19; Volume 3: Chapters 1-19, making 61 chapters in total. The third edition was constructed by making Volume 1 contain 33 chapters, that is all of Volume 1 from the first edition together with chapters 1-10 from Volume 2 of the first edition. Volume 2 of the third edition was made up of chapters 11-19 from Volume 2 of the first edition together with all 19 chapters from the original Volume 3. Unfortunately, Egerton misnumbered the chapters in Volume 2 of the third edition, numbering them 1-11 and 13-29, so that there appear to be 62 chapters rather than 61.

The structure of the third edition is important, as almost all of the reprints of Pride and Prejudice for the following 100 years use the text of the Egerton third edition as their source. There was no major review of the text until the Oxford edition edited by Robert Chapman was published in 1923. Fortunately, no other publishers repeated the chapter numbering mistake made by Egerton.

My copy of the third edition of Pride and Prejudice.

Figure 1 below shows my copy of the third edition of Pride and Prejudice. The books are in a rather worn half binding of brown marbled boards and brown soft leather on the spine and corners. The binding looks as if it could be contemporary, since the style is consistent with a binding of the first quarter of the 19th century. It is certainly not the original binding, which should be in light blue paper-covered boards.

The title pages of the two volumes are shown in Figure 2 below. They are typical of the style of title pages of their time, giving the standard information of title, author, volume number, publisher details and date with no decoration other than the small horizontal lines.

The “byline” is “by the author of Sense and Sensibility &c”, with the “&c” relating to Mansfield Park and Emma, which had been published in 1814 and 1816. Like the first and second editions of Pride and Prejudice, the publisher’s details are given as London: Printed for T. Egerton| Military Library, Whitehall. This is slightly misleading, as Egerton’s offices were actually in St. Martin’s Lane, but I think that the combination of “Military” and “Whitehall” is deliberately used in an attempt to make the publisher sound more prestigious. You can see from the images that the pages show some foxing, the brown discolouration caused by the interaction of mould with acidic paper. Indeed the paper quality is not particularly good, which is one of the issues that Henry Austen had with Egerton’s editions of his sister’s works. Both volumes were printed by C. Roworth of Bell-Yard, Temple-Bar. Roworth had printed Volume 1 of both the first and second editions of Pride and Prejudice, but not volumes two or three of those editions. The Roworth printing is generally regarded as superior to the printing of the other two volumes by G. Sidney. The next figure is of the first page of chapter 1 of volume 1, with the famous opening sentence. You can see from this scan that the thinness of the paper is allowing a faint image of the printing on the verso to be visible.

Figure 3 First page of Pride and Prejudice

The word edition means that the type was reset anew for each edition, and this is clear by comparing the third edition with the two earlier ones, as the font size, line length and text block size are different from the first two editions. There are no illustrations in any of the Egerton editions of Jane Austen’s novels.

Provenance of my third edition of Pride and Prejudice

There are two very helpful items of evidence to identify the original owner of the book. There is a hand written inscription on the ffep of volume 2, and an armorial bookplate on the front paste-downs. Images of these are shown in Figure 4.

The inscription is ” Elizabeth Maria Philipps, Williamston” and the armorial bookplate is labelled “Pentre” with the motto “Solem Ferre Possum.” A little research soon revealed that Pentre was a place not a family name, and the coat of arms was of the Saunders-Davies family of Pentre in South Wales. On 31st July 1826, Elizabeth Maria Philipps, only daughter of Captain Owen Philipps of Williamstown, Pembrokeshire married David Arthur Saunders-Davies, of Pentre, Manordeifi near Boncath in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

The signature is clearly of Elizabeth Maria Philipps prior to her marriage, as she is using her maiden name and the name of the residence of her father. The 3rd edition was published in a single issue by Egerton in the middle of 1817, to our best knowledge. Miss Philipps, as she was before her marriage, must have obtained her copy some time between mid-1817 and mid-1826. Her birth date is unknown, nor is there any baptismal record for her, but from her age on her death certificate, she must have been born in 1805 or 1806, making her 19 or 20 years old at her marriage. It seems to me to be most likely that she obtained the book in her early teenage years, shortly after the book was published. The signature certainly looks quite firmly written and mature. The Pentre bookplate would have been applied following her marriage, when she took up residence as the lady of the house, her mother-in-law, Susannah Saunders, having died in 1823. The house passed into the ownership of her husband three years later, when his father Dr. David Davies died in 1829.

The mansion Pentre is shown below in a modern photograph. This is essentially the house as it was rebuilt and restored in the early 19th century. There had been several houses on the site for many centuries, and the estate had belonged to the Saunders family since the late 17th century. Dr David Davies had married the heiress of the Saunders estates, Susannah Saunders (1755-1823), who was the last survivor of the three daughters of Erasmus Saunders, on the understanding that their children would adopt the name Saunders-Davies. The house stayed in the Saunders-Davies family for five more generations of inheritance through the eldest son, until the 1950s.

Figure 5. Pentre from the air in the late 20th century

I have no information on how my Pride and Prejudice left Pentre. Group Captain D A P Saunders-Davies, the last Saunders-Davies owner of Pentre, gave up the house around the early 1950s, and one imagines that there might have been a sale of the contents around that time, which would have included books. I bought the book in 2015 from a dealer in the East Midlands of England, who had acquired it from an English collector.

The Crimean War connection

Elizabeth Maria Philipps and David Arthur Saunders-Davies had five children, two daughters and three sons, born between 1829 and 1837. Elizabeth died on 19th July 1851 at Pentre. Her youngest daughter seems to have died during infancy, but her four eldest children survived her. The middle child was Owen Gwyn Saunders-Davies, who had been born early in 1834. After attending Eton, he joined the army and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 38th Regiment of Foot. The Crimean War between Britain, the Ottoman Empire and France on the one side and Russia on the other started in October 1853. One of the bloodiest battles was the assault on the Great Redan stronghold, during the siege of Sevastopol, on 18th June 1855. 2nd Lieutenant Owen Gwyn Saunders-Davies died during that assault. He was only 21 years old. His mother Elizabeth had not lived long enough to have to cope with that loss to the family.

There is an engraved portrait of 2nd Lieutenant Owen Gwyn Saunders-Davies in the National Portrait Gallery in London, which is taken from a drawing by Thomas Brigstocke, a Welsh artist and a relative of the Saunders-Davies family. The portrait shows the young officer in uniform.

Lt. Owen Gwyn Saunders-Davies

This early death has always resonated with me, as my great grandfather, William Butcher (1825-1877), had been a Sergeant in the 68th Regiment of Foot and had served in the Crimean War. He had fought at the first two great battles of the war, Alma and Balaclava, and was shot in the abdomen during the battle of Inkerman on 5th November 1854. He must have been tough, since he survived and continued his army career, including action in India following the mutiny in 1857, until his discharge from the army in 1865. He married and started a family shortly after leaving the army, so if he had not survived his wound at Inkerman, I would not be here! Like many of the veterans of the Battle of Alma, he named his first born daughter Alma. The picture below shows a group of men from the 68th Regiment of Foot during the Crimean campaign. I doubt that my great-grandfather is in the picture, but it is still an image that I value.

Members of the Saunders-Davies family are still alive and I have been in correspondence with Elizabeth Maria Philipps’ five-times great-grand-daughter, who has given me information on the family, for which I am very grateful. I was pleased to send her a scan of her five-time great grandmother’s signature, and share with her the thought that her ancestor may have been an early fan of Jane Austen.


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.