Thursday, 19 September 2019

The Australian Fanny Hill

Apparently, "one of the few objectionable productions of the Australian press" (*) appeared in 1878: The Life of Emily Duncan; an Autobiography; with Introduction by Robert Coles (Sydney, N.S.W., 1878).

Information about this Aussie Fanny Hill appears as item 521 in Bibliotheca Arcana seu Catalogus Librorum Penetralium (London: George Redway, 1885), a bibliography of erotica that appeared under the authorship of "Speculator Morum," but which is generally ascribed to Sir William Laird Clowes (see here).

Bibliotheca Arcana seems to have been based on a mix of entries taken from two erotic bibliographies by Henry Spencer Ashbee, and cuttings from contemporary, unidentified booksellers' catalogues. (I discuss this item in my post on "An 1886 review of Bibliotheca Arcana" here.)

Sadly, The Life of Emily Duncan is not known to survive, and is not known from any other source (i.e., it is not cribbed from Ashbee, and does not appear in any surviving bookseller's catalogue, bibliography etc.)

Clowes, however, reproduces more than the just the title of this volume. From him, we learn that it was published in Sydney in twelve octavo sheets (192pp: xxiv, 168).

The text is characterised as follows by Clowes:

One of the few objectionable productions of the Australian press. Emily Duncan, a woman of some personal attractions, kept a house of ill-fame in Sydney, some years ago; and, after her retirement, wrote this life of herself her paramour, Robert Coles, contributing a preface, in which the authoress's charms are very minutely described.

Alfred Rose simplifies this characterisation as follows (Registrum Librorum Eroticorum (1936), 1.197 (no.2645), citing Bibliotheca Arcana 521): "An Australian work similar to 'Fanny Hill'.”

I have been unable to identify either the Sydney Madam Emily Duncan (active, I would guess, in the 1870s) or her paramour, Robert Coles. It would not be very surprising that both the names and the place of publication are fictitious. But it would be nice to examine the book itself for further clues, to identify either the printer, or Ms Duncan.

* !! I imagine there were citizens of Sydney who, in 1885, would have thought that there were a great many productions of the Australian press that were "objectionable." However, the only other item printed in Sydney in either Clowes's or Rose's bibliographies is the 1925, Fanfrolico Press edition of Lysistrata illustrated by Norman Lindsay (Registrum Librorum Eroticorum (1936), 1.204; no.2743).

Melbourne appears twice in Rose (but not in Clowes), once for W. J. Chidley's The Answer (1.64; no. 838) and once for Tales of the Villa Brigitte, translated from the French by M.A. Oxon (London [and] Melbourne: H. J. Vicar, Sons [and] Co., 1910), 2 vols (2.329; no. 4444)—but this is something to explore on another day.

An 1886 review of Bibliotheca Arcana

The rather harsh review of Bibliotheca Arcana seu Catalogus Librorum Penetralium (1885) below seems to have attracted no notice at all. This is not terribly surprising since this erotic bibliography has attracted little comment of any scope beyond its authorship (generally ascribed to Sir William Laird Clowes, see here).

The page-long review appeared in Book-lore: A Magazine Devoted to Old Time Literature, vol. 3 (January 1886): 53 (here). In this review, the reviewer complains that "the compilation"—"it is nothing better"—had been "put together without system or classification," that it "displays neither grasp of the subject, critical acumen, nor bibliographical treatment," and that it has "the appearance of cuttings from a bookseller’s catalogue" rather "than notices by a bibliographer."

The reviewer goes on to note "the influence of two much more important and thoroughly done bibliographies" on Bibliotheca Arcana. The bibliographies are not named, but those with a copy of the book being reviewed could follow the opaque references provided to identify these as two erotic bibliographies by Henry Spencer Ashbee.

In 1982, Patrick Kearney simply echoes these anonymous complaints, when he describes the Bibliotheca Arcana as "heavily cribbed" from Ashbee's erotic bibliographies, and that (an unspecified number of) entries had "been culled from unidentified sale catalogues" (A History of Erotic Literature (1982), 13).

In 2017, Sarah Bull repeated Kearney's observations (without citation) when she states that "The composition of Clowes's Bibliotheca Arcana … is so similar [to the works of Ashbee] that the bibliographer has often been accused of plagiarizing Ashbee's work" ("Reading, Writing, and Publishing an Obscene Canon: The Archival Logic of the Secret Museum, c. 1860–c. 1900," Book History, Vol. 20 (2017), 230 [emphasis added]).

In his Clandestine Erotic Fiction in English, 1800–1930 (1993), Peter Mendes included a "Checklist of Clandestine Catalogues, 1885–c. 1930." This checklist includes a catalogue from January 1899 by Charles Carrington that mirrors the title of Clowes's Bibliotheca Arcana:

To be kept under Lock-and-Key. Bibliotheca Arcana. Being a rough list of rare, curious and uncommon books, pamphlets, prints & engravings that have been Privately Printed, Prohibited by Law, Seized, Anathematized, Burnt or Bowdlerized; more particularly, those relating to the Mysteries of Human Affinities, or dealing with the Attractions and Aversions—Vices and Virtues—Loves and Longings—Hates and Failings—Passions and Peculiarities of Live, Moving, Men and Women—and throwing light upon the Psychology of Sex [Held British Library, Cup.364.g.48].

Bull describes the preface to this catalogue as "plagiarizing liberally" from Clowes's Bibliotheca Arcana (249), but does not say anything of the source of the entries.

All I can add regarding this last question—the non-Ashbee material in the Bibliotheca Arcana—is that at least one of the items cribbed from "unidentified sale catalogues" is not known to survive, is not known from any other source (i.e., it is not cribbed from Ashbee): I discuss this item in my post on "The Australian Fanny Hill" (here).

* * * * *

Bibliotheca Arcana seu Catalogus Librorum Penetralium: being brief notices of books that have been secretly printed, prohibited by law, seized, anathematized, burnt or Bowdlerized. By SPECULATOR MORUM. London: George Redway, MDCCCLXXXV. Small 4to., pp. xxii. 141 and xxv.

WE are always ready to hail with a cordial welcome every book on bibliography, of which the notices are at first-hand, done conscientiously, and de visu[*]. This seems to be the case with the Bibliotheca Arcana, although we must take exception to it on other grounds. The books noticed, the nature of which is sufficiently explained on the title-page, are of a kind which renders it desirable that they should not be made very generally known. Many hold that every book has a utility of some sort, nullus est liber tarn mains qui non exaliqua parte prosit[†]; others that all books, irrespective of their subjects or tendencies, should be catalogued. It is not for us to argue either point here, and as the Bibliotheca Arcana is an expensive publication, is issued, we believe, to subscribers only, and is well printed on excellent paper, its existence may for these reasons be condoned. But we fear it will be found of little service to the bibliophiles, for whom it is evidently destined: it is put together without system or classification; the entries are undigested, and have more the appearance of cuttings from a bookseller’s catalogue than notices by a bibliographer; neither are the works by the same author or the various editions of the same book brought together, but are dispersed in various articles, and spread over several pages; translations are served up as original works; books issued at different times with different titles are treated as distinct works; there are numerous errors which we cannot in this journal paint out. In fact, the compilation (it is nothing better) displays neither grasp of the subject, critical acumen, nor bibliographical treatment. “The entries,” we are told, “have been arranged (?) without any reference either to subjects or authors. The index which is appended will enable the student to classify for himself.” This is all very well, but it is not for the guest to arrange the entertainment to which he is invited.

The preface is the best part of the book. “It would be an interesting task,” writes Speculator Morum, “for an essayist to describe the progress and fortunes of the erotic in art and literature from the earliest times down to the present day, to show how eroticism was in some mysterious way at the root of all ancient religions; and to point out how, instead of being looked askance upon, it was actually favoured and patronized by priests, poets, sculptors, dramatists, and philosophers in the classic ages, which have handed down to us not only literature, but also pictures, statues, and gems, tinged with the most extreme eroticism, and yet truly lovely in their design and workmanship.” Interesting as such a task might be, we doubt whether the author is to be found, at any rate in England, likely to undertake it. We cannot but think that we trace, both in the preface and in the general idea and form of the book itself, the influence of two much more important and thoroughly done bibliographies of the same description of books, lately privately printed, and which are noted in arts. 6 and 7 of the Bibliotheca Arcana [§]. As in the Bibliographic des Ouvrages relatifs a I’Amour of Gay, many books have been introduced which are foreign to the scope of the work; so in Mr. Redway’s compilation there are several articles, among which we may instance Nos. 323, 330, 435, 437, 556, 595, of which we fail to see the raison d’être.

[* from sight]
[† "There is no book so bad that some good cannot be got out of it," a paraphrase of Pliny the Elder]
[§ i.e., Ashbee's Index Librorum Prohibitorum (1877) and Centuria Librorum Absconditorum (1879); Catena Librorum Tacendorum was not published until 1885, and is not included in the Bibliotheca Arcana]

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

William Hatchett and The Fall of Mortimer

Jina Moon was awarded her Ph.D. at the University of Tulsa in 2015, for her study “Domestic Violence in Victorian and Edwardian Fiction”; she came to my attention a few months ago for an essay she has written on William Hatchett: “‘Was Ever Treason so Unnatural?’: Phallic Mothers and Propaganda in Two Plays by William Hatchett.”

Moon’s essays opens: “William Hatchett’s The Fall of Mortimer was famously suppressed by Sir Robert Walpole’s government in 1731…”—which is a fine opening, except there is no evidence that The Fall of Mortimer was actually written by William Hatchett. The attribution was first made a century after the play was published, without evidence, and not obviously to William Hatchett, as I explained in my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood in 2004 (under De.1, De.4, De.5).

Moon only attempts to support her attribution with a footnote (393n1), not an in-text discussion. Her footnote states that “eighteenth-century historians and theatre scholars identified William Hatchett as its author”—naming Allardyce Nicoll as having made the attribution (actually he only reported the attribution, which seems to have been first made in 1834), Thomas Lockwood as having “acknowledged” it (in 1989) and Jennifer Airey—also of the University of Tulsa—as “confirming” it (2013).

All of these claims are either misleading or false (see below). It is not clear whether Moon misunderstood or intentionally misrepresented her sources, but her failure to identify the source and status of the attribution of The Fall of Mortimer to Hatchett—to either recognise or acknowledge that there is no primary source at all for it—undermines her argument and many (most?) of the claims she makes in her essay. Although many of her claims about Hatchett and the text are somewhat weak anyway, it is a shame that Moon undermined her own work at the outset, since she is certainly right that “critics have evinced almost no interest in Hatchett’s work” (384).

It is both surprising and disappointing (the usual combination) that New Theatre Quarterly’s referees did not pick up this rather fundamental flaw in Moon's argument. When I asked the editors about it they—at first—tried to ignore the question altogether, and then—when pressed—pretended that Moon had not, in fact, mischaracterised her sources at all.

Since there are so few essays on Hatchett, I think it is important to acknowledge that Moon's essay is based on an unsubstantiated claim (or, at least, a poorly substantiated one). But rather than write a formal essay arguing how Moon has mischaracterised her sources, I thought I'd simply transcribe here her footnote and the relevant sections of her sources, with a few brief notes, so the reader can judge for themselves.

Airey, ‘Was Ever Treason so Unnatural?’: 393n1: "In The Politics of Drama in Augustan England, John Loftis argues that the anonymity [of The Fall of Mortimer] was inevitable because it was ‘a dangerous play to acknowledge’ (p. 105). Likewise, its two printed versions in 1731 and 1763 did not have the author’s name. As a result, the authorship of The Fall of Mortimer remained obscure. Nonetheless, despite the anonymity, eighteenth-century historians and theatre scholars identified William Hatchett as its author. For example, in A History of English Drama 1660–1900, Allardyce Nicoll attributes The Fall of Mortimer to Hatchett, introducing a hand-list of plays (p. 371). In ‘William Hatchett, A Rehearsal of Kings (1737), and the Panton Street Puppet Show (1748)’, Thomas Lockwood also acknowledges Hatchett’s authorship of the play (p. 317). In ‘Staging Rape in the Age of Walpole: Sexual Violence and the Politics of Dramatic Adaptation in 1730s Britain’, Jennifer Airey also confirms his authorship of The Fall of Mortimer (p. 101)."

"Nicoll attributes" (nope, he avoids doing this)

Airey's citation is Allardyce Nicoll, A History of English Drama 1660–1900, 3rd edn. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 2.371 (in the "a hand-list of plays"). There were three editions of Nicoll's Early eighteenth century drama: 1925, 1929, 1952, in all editions The Fall of Mortimer does not appear under Hatchett's name (in the 3rd ed. this is on 2.334), but—instead—appears under the heading "Unknown Authors" where Nicoll records that the play had been "Attributed to William Hatchett". If Nicoll accepted this attribution, or thought it was reliable, The Fall of Mortimer would appear under Hatchett's name.

"Lockwood acknowledges the authorship" (not really, he also hedges)

Lockwood, "William Hatchett, A Rehearsal of Kings (1737)": 316–17: "It was apparently Hatchet also who reupholstered the old play of King Edward the Third as The Fall of Mortimer"; 231n6 "As Hume has noted (Henry Fielding and the London Theatre, p.80 n), the attribution to Hatchett goes back only to Lowndes's Bibliographer’s Manual, rev. Henry G. Bohn, 6 vols. (London, 1857-64), 3.1619. See also Lance Bertelsen, "The Significance of the 1731 revisions to The Fall of Mortimer’, Restoration and 18th Century Theatre Research, 2nd Ser., 2 (1987), 17–18. … If Hatchett did write The Fall of Mortimer then he would also have been the author of the pamphlet in its vindication, The History of Mortimer …". Note here "apparently," "only" and "If…then"—this is Lockwood hedging, though both of his sources are less cautious.

Hume, 80n86: "The adaptation was anonymous, Lowndes credits [William] Hatchett, plausibly, but without explanation"—citing the 1857-64 edition of Lowndes's Bibliographer’s Manual. (In fact, the attribution appears first in William Thomas Lowndes, The Bibliographer’s Manual of English Literature (London: William Pickering, 1834), 3.1302: "by — Hatchett.") Hume is admirably clear and concise (plausible, but no evidence), though he does not dwell on the identification of "— Hatchett" as William Hatchett.

Bertelsen, 17: "William Hatchett, the probable reviser of The Fall of Mortimer"; 17–18 "If, as seems likely, Hatchett did indeed transform King Edward the Third…" Note that, while Bertelsen suggests that the attribution is probable, he reminds the reader that would only make Hatchett the reviser of the play (a characterisation consistent with the "Advertisement" in the 3rd ed. of 1731), before attributing to Hatchett Remarks on an Historical Play call'd The Fall of Mortimer.

"Airey confirms his authorship" (no, she really doesn't)

Unfortunately for Moon, Airey’s “Staging Rape in the Age of Walpole” does no such thing; it simply mentions The Fall of Mortimer, in passing, in a list of nine plays, in the form "William Hatchett's The Fall of Mortimer" (96). There is no evidence offered by Airey for the attribution, or any work of reference cited in proximity to this list.

Airey was the only scholar mentioned by Moon who I was unfamiliar with, and so I was anxious to read her essay, which is woeful. I was not remotely surprised to discover that Airey had not "confirmed" the Hatchett attribution, that she had simply repeated the Hatchett attribution without evidence, since I already knew that Nicoll made no such attribution and that Lockwood's "acknowledgement" amounts to nothing when it comes to evidencing an attribution.

Sadly, I found what I expected, that Moon had either misunderstood or lied about Airey in an attempt, it seems, to obscure the fact that there is no primary evidence for this attribution. At all. That Moon does not once mention either Remarks on an Historical Play or The History of Mortimer indicates just how shollow her interest is in attribution questions or—I'd argue—the play itself.

* * * * *

Jina Moon, “‘Was Ever Treason so Unnatural?’: Phallic Mothers and Propaganda in Two Plays by William Hatchett,” which was published in New Theatre Quarterly, 34, No. 4 (November 2018): 383–94.

Jennifer Airey, “Staging Rape in the Age of Walpole: Sexual Violence and the Politics of Dramatic Adaptation in 1730s Britain,” in Interpreting Sexual Violence, 1660–1800, edited by A. Greenfield (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2014), 95–106.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

More Female Spectators

A few years ago I mentioned (here) that "When I set out, without much premeditation, to collect Haywood taxonomically, I had not thought that I would end up with so many 'duplicates'." (My post was prompted by the arrival of my seventh set of the “Second” edition of The Female Spectator (1748).) While this was certainly true of most of Haywood's works—even at the start—there are two items I would have excluded from this blanket statement: the first, octavo, editions of both The Female Spectator and La Belle Assemblée. Today I am going to talk about the first of these.

I provided the reason I might have wanted duplicates of the first edition(s) of The Female Spectator in my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood (2004), 438:

It ought to be noted that to distinguish the different editions of each Book has proved to be a very difficult task … Since the bookbinder was instructed to ‘cancel [remove] every title except the general one’, few of the surviving sets contain any of the original part-titles. Since first, second and third printings are often so similar as to be almost indistinguishable except from their part-titles, and no ready method exists to identify the edition of books with cancelled [part] titles, only those sets with part-titles intact or with second edition general titles have been identified by cataloguers as containing reprinted Books. No library with these rare survivals has multiple copies of the part-published editions of The Female Spectator and so it has not been possible to compare different editions of each Book.

One of the consequences of the fact that "no single public or private library has approached completeness in gathering together the works of Haywood" (16), was that almost no library had more than a single copy of any of her works. (Spoiler alert: except mine.)



In the case of the first edition(s) of The Female Spectator, only the British Library and the Bodleian have more than a single set, and in both cases the second set is incomplete (i.e., L [94.c.12–15; 629.e.4, -v.1,4] and O [8vo Y 64–66 Jur, -v.4; G. Pamph. 1856 (14), bk.1 only]), and none of the 24 individual "Books" that make up The Female Spectator are reprints in either case.

As a consequence, when I was preparing my Bibliography, I had to compile entries for each Book based on a comparison of the Monash and Melbourne University mixed sets with a microfilm copy of the Harvard set (which has almost all of the part-titles for first edition Books) combined with with a handful of photocopies posted to me by the University of Kansas and the Riverside Library at the University of California (which both have most of the known part-titles for reprinted Books).

I concluded my headnote to The Female Spectator with a warning:

It is quite unlikely that every edition of every Book has been identified [here] and so it is not clear how many Books were reprinted. The fact that no copy is known to have survived with uncancelled part-titles for Books 10–24 and that no differences have been discovered among copies of these later Books in the few copies examined does not prove that no later Books were reprinted. It may be that reprints of the later Books have not survived uncancelled by mere chance and that the absence of any comprehensive Haywood collection has hindered the identification of differences that may exist among widely scattered copies of earlier Books.

Obviously, since "the absence of any comprehensive Haywood collection ha[d] hindered the identification of differences that may exist among widely scattered copies of earlier Books", one of the things I hoped to achieve by collecting Haywood taxonomically, was to improve the entry for the individual Books that make up the first, octavo, editions of The Female Spectator, by collecting multiple copies.



Fifteen years later, as you can see above, I now have four copies of the octavo editions: three complete sets (two of mixed issues; all with part-titles), of the "First" octavo edition, and one odd volume (the first volume only, no part titles) of the second octavo edition.

As a result of my collecting, I now have copies of 27 of the 34 individual Books that I described in 2004, plus four more that I have since identified (Ab.60.0.1A, Ab.60.0.5A, Ab.60.0.11A, Ab.60.0.32A). I also have part-titles for 26 of these 38 entries. Combining my own copies with those I have local access to, there are now only three Books inaccessible to me: Ab.60.0.15, Ab.60.0.17, Ab.60.0.19, all only known to exist in the Riverside Library copy.

It is not clear whether the high price of my latest copy—the “Cornwell House” set, sold at the Martin Orskey sale in June—is a factor of it having come up at a prominent London auction, or the increased interest in Haywood. Although it is contrary to my interest for it to be the latter, it would be nice to think that one of Haywood's most important works was beginning to be more highly valued. If so, my chances of adding any further copies to my collection are very low. This Cornwell House set cost me almost fifteen times as much as either of the two previous sets, an extravagance I couldn't afford to repeat.

However, now that I have four copies of the first volume it is easy to show the advantage of having multiple copies of the same work. Note that, in the photo below, each copy is open to the last page of Book 1, and that the facing page is either the part title for Book 2, or the first page of text for Book 2. There are three editions of Book 1, all of which are illustrated here.



The two copies on the left are identical (Book 1 ends on page 68, both have the same tailpiece). These are both copies of Ab.60.0.1. While both copies of Book 1 on the right end, instead, on page 70, the settings are different from each other (the final line is longer bottom right), and a different tailpiece is used on each. The top one is Ab.60.0.1A, the bottom Ab.60.0.2.

As the above image suggests, it is almost impossible to overstate how valuable to be able to compare multiple copies in this way. Which is why it is so important for serious research libraries to collect authors in depth. Although a number of research libraries have been collecting eighteenth-century women writers with some enthusiasm, they appear to be collecting for breadth, not depth—as is indicated by the fact that it is still the case that there is no institutional library with even two full sets of Haywood's Female Spectator.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Teaching Eliza Haywood

At some point in the Northern Winter of 2020 (i.e., early 2020, since the Northern Winter runs from ca. December 2019 to March 2020), the Modern Language Association of America will publish Approaches to Teaching the Works of Eliza Haywood, with contributions from twenty-five scholars, myself included.



Among the broad range of Haywood scholars included in this volume, are those who have done so much to make her work available in edited form: Paula R. Backscheider (Selected Fiction and Drama of Eliza Haywood), Catherine Ingrassia (Anti-Pamela), Tiffany Potter (The Masqueraders and The Surprize), and Earla Wilputte (The Adventures of Eovaai, Three Novellas). Also included are scholars who have made a name for themselves with book-length studies, which have had a significant impact on Haywood studies: Ros Ballaster (Seductive Forms: Women’s Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740), Kathryn R. King (A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood), and Kirsten T. Saxton (The Passionate Fictions of Eliza Haywood).

David Oakleaf—another significant name in Haywood studies—comments that “The pedagogical range and resourcefulness of this volume is impressive. Any teacher of Haywood will benefit from a thorough engagement with the material presented.” I am certainly looking forward to reading the other contrutions, whichI have not yet seen.

* * * * *

My own essay ("Haywood’s Works: Availability, Editing, and Issues of Bibliography") will be in the first section, titled “Materials,” which is intended to identify "high-quality editions, reliable biographical sources, and useful background information." Although I primarily intended my essay to be a history of the availability of Haywood's works—in original editions, various micro-format duplicates, and printed editions, whether in facsimilie or edited form—what I ended up focussing on is the extent to which the growth and focus of Haywood scholarship has depended on the availability of Haywood's works in edited form.

Obviously, for works to be studied at all, they need to be available to a scholar; but for works to be widely studied, they really need to be widely available in edited form. Certainly, for the most part, those works by Haywood which have been the most frequently edited are also the ones that are most frequently discussed in scholarship. However, the correlation is imperfect, suggesting a bias among Haywood scholars for Haywood’s prose fiction and periodicals over her drama, nonfiction, and Haywood's many translations.

What my survey suggested to me is that convenient edited editions of Idalia and The Fatal Secret, for instance, are certainly called for, and would probably encourage more studies of those works, but the developing critical interest in Haywood’s periodicals and longer works of original prose fiction suggest that editions of The Young Lady or The Fortunate Foundlings would do more to expand the range of Haywood scholarship. Publishers take heed!

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Collecting 18C Books: A Workshop

On Sunday, I will be running a workshop—a BSANZ contribution to Rare Book Week—under the title “Hand-press period books from the 18th century: A workshop for collectors” (details here).

My intention is to speak mostly about opportunities for collectors, and on evaluating books, rather than [1] why you might be interested in collecting books in the first place and [2] what particular aspect of eighteenth century life and culture might be of interest to you.

Looking at the list of topics I had intended to cover, it is clear I was being wildly optimistic when I made this proposal. And so, I have decided to post here some of the links and information that I will only be able to skim over in the Workshop—concerning the basics of collecting, bibliographies, and provenance—hopefully, it will be of use for both the participants and those who were interested in the subject, but are unable attend.

If there is anything obvious I have missed, or which might be useful to participants, I will either add that information here after the workshop, or post about it separately and add a link to that post below.

* * * * *

Some useful links:

Vialibri (search engine for antiquarian books).
18C books on eBay (UK) here.
18C books on eBay (US) here.

ESTC.
Google Books.

Some of my posts on collecting 17C and 18C texts: Collecting Eighteenth Century Literature, Catterall and Cowley in Sydney, 1835, Bibliomania, The Evidence Accumulates, Limitless opportunities for collecting Haywood?, Little Victories and Frankenbook; Or, What Goes Around, Comes Around.

* * * * *

Basics of Collecting: as John Carter states (here) “Probably few collectors are so methodical as to put themselves through any formal education for what is, after all, a fairly sophisticated pursuit.” Instead, most collectors rely on self-education, trial and error.

Anyone prepared to self-educate will find resources online to help: you can start with Wikipedia (entry on "Book Collecting," here), or just Google three words: book, collecting, guide. If you do either of these things, you are likely to find a lot that will be of only marginal use, since relatively few book collectors focus on eighteenth century books.

Most sites and videos work on the assumption you will want to collect modern first editions—like this one or this one, at “oldscrolls” no less, which launch straight into the subject of dust jacket condition and identifying first editions based on the line of numbers that appear on the back of a title-page.

The most useful site is probably ABE Basic Guide to Book Collecting, which covers a wider range of collecting, even if its pages on Illuminated Manuscripts and Incunabula (books printed before 1500) are just as far from the mark as those on collecting Lewis Carroll and Ian Fleming. It does, however, have sections on paper types, binding styles, book formats, reference books, books on book collecting, and the care of books etc.

(Among the most useful items in ABE's list of reference books is Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors, which ABE want you to buy, but which is available free, online, here—a direct link to the DPF is here.)

* * * * *

Becoming expert in your area: most collectors specialise to a greater or lesser extent, simply because few of us have the time or financial resources not to specialise. Even if I had the money needed to collect comprehensively within a well-mapped genre (say, the gothic novel), the time needed to do so with any care and deliberation, would be greater than I have.

Even if you won the lottery, and were to simply delegate the responsibility to someone else to assemble the most complete and perfect collection of the items listed in Montagu Summers’ A Gothic Bibliography (1948; online here), I am not sure what pleasure you would gain in assembling the collection, or even whether—properly speaking—you really would be the “collector” in such a situation.

Discovering where our passion lies, in collecting, is a large part of the fun of collecting, and it is also part of the self-education I mentioned. And although, as I said at the start, I am not about to direct or dictate to someone else what they may or may not want to collect, I can offer some advice about how to proceed once it becomes clear where your interests are.

Whether a collector focuses on an individual author, or a subject, they will likely want to know what works that authors wrote, or what works were printed on that subject in the period. If you do not already know if anyone has already compiled a list of these books (a bibliography), you will find almost two thousand of these lists here. This is the American Libraries Association list of “standard bibliographies” for “Rare Materials Cataloging”—a bibliography of bibliographies, with references to a bewildering range of topics, many on eighteenth-century subjects.

Although the list is very far from complete (the entry for Australia--Bibliography lists Jonathan Wantrup's Australian rare books, 1788-1900 and Monash's supplement to Ferguson's Bibliography of Australia, but not Ferguson's Bibliography itself), it is a good place to start.

One of the most common forms of collecting is author-focused, and partly as a result, bibliographies have been compiled for a great many writers of the period. A good place to start looking for author bibliographies, is T. H. Howard-Hill’s Bibliography of British Literary Bibliographies, 2nd ed. (1988). The author bibliographies in Howard-Hill’s Bibliography of British Literary Bibliographies are a mix of enumerative and descriptive bibliographies.

(A descriptive bibliography—unlike an enumerative bibliography—describes each item in detail, rather than simply enumerate them. An example of an enumerative bibliography is the one by Summers mentioned above; an example on a descriptive bibliography, is Teerink's A bibliography of the writings of Jonathan Swift, which is online here. For a brief overview of Bibliography, see the Wikipedia page here; for an explanation of what a descriptive bibliographies usually describe, and how, see here and here.)

For a recent guide on how to find out more about both authors and subjects—a reminder that collecting is “a fairly sophisticated pursuit” that requires the collector to become an expert in their chosen topic—see Peggy Keeran and Jennifer Bowers, Literary Research and the British Eighteenth Century (2013), a Preview of which is available here.

* * * * *

Condition, Provenance and The history of your books: as Wikipedia notes, "the value of a book ultimately depends on its physical condition." Since the condition deteriorates with use, collectors have long favored books which most closely approximate "as new" condition, with the fewest physical manifestations of use.

In a modern book, this will usually mean a copy of a book with no manifestation of its history: a book, as issued in its original binding (no matter how fragile or ephemeral); with no bookplate, ownership inscriptions or annotations; a dust wrapper that has not been "clipped," without price stickers or bookseller's labels. In short, a tabula rasa: a blank slate.

Few books survive in such an un-used state, and as every year passes, fewer still will remain in that condition, so it is not surprising that—if demand is undiminished—the shrinking supply of pristine copies will continue to rise in value. Since such time-capsule books have long been the most sought after, book sellers and collectors have spent much of the last two centuries attempting to remove any trace of use from the books they have collected—and thereby removed any evidence of provenance of these books.

Two factors are changing this dynamic for eighteenth-century books: firstly, the widespread availability of a vast number of books from the eighteenth century has diminished the need for (use-value of) these books. Library administrators are reluctant to spend a lot of money to build or support large collections of eighteenth century books, when identical copies of the same books are widely available online.

Of course, in the hand-press period, most copies are not—strictly speaking—identical, but that is an argument that only likely to sway bibliographers. But the consequence of the ready availability of good reproductions eighteenth-century books online, there has been an increasing focus among librarians on what is unique about a specific copy of an eighteenth-century book, rather than what is the same about it: i.e., its imperfections, not its perfections.

The second factor changing the singular focus on pristine copies is that there has been an increasing interest among scholars—book historians—concerning the historical ownership and use of books: for these scholars, evidence of ownership and use are highly valuable: annotations, comment, modifications, styles of rebinding, all reveal the ways in which books have been used, kept, valued. As a result, a scholar may now be just as likely to value a book for its imperfection as its perfections.

What this suggests is that a modern collector of eighteenth-century books should take into account what may be uniquely valuable about even a well-used book before either buying or dismissing it. It also suggests that they ought to preserve as much of that history as possible—and this extends to any information whatsoever, concerning the history of a book.

So, for example, a Gothic novel with a bookplate indicating that it once belonged to Montague Summers, should not have that bookplate removed; but—likewise—a Gothic novel that is bought from the sale of Montague's books, which does not have a bookplate, should have this information recorded and preserved too.

Anyone interested in how to investigate provenance, should consult David Pearson's Provenance research in book history: a handbook, "Major New Edition" (2019)—details here.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Harrap, The Myths Series, 1907–17

Between 1907 and 1917, George G. Harrap published a series of a dozen books, later titled "The Myths Series"—a series imitated by Gresham, who published at least ten volumes under the title "Myth and Legend in Literature and Art" between 1912 and 1924. (For my post on the Gresham series, see here.)

Just as with the Gresham series, I have, and have had, a number of the Harrap volumes over the years, often wondered how many titles there were in the full series and, when I went looking for an answer to this question, found very little on the subject; and so I have decided to collect some of the information I found here.

A 1919 reprint of no.2 in the series (see below) explains, in an advertisement, that "Each volume" is in "Demy 8vo, about 400 pages, with from 32 to 64 Plates and Full Index"; the price for "Cloth extra, 12s. 6d. net"; readers are also informed that a “Special Prospectus of this Important Series will be sent to any address.” Sadly, I have not found a copy of this Prospectus, but I found other printings of this advertisement online (here, for example).

The twelve volumes in the series are:

1. Hélène A. Guerber, The Myths of Greece and Rome (1907). [1909]
2. Hélène A. Guerber, Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas (1908). [1909; 1919]
3. Hélène A. Guerber, Myths and Legends of the Middle Ages (September 1909). [1909; 1911]
4. Maud Isabel Ebbutt, Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race (1910). [1918]
5. T. W. Rolleston, Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race (1912, 2nd ed. rev.) [1929]
6. F. Hadland Davis, The Myths and Legends of Japan (1912). [1928]
7. Lewis Spence, The Myths of Mexico and Peru (1913). [1913]
8. Lewis Spence, The Myths of the North American Indians (1914). [1914]
9. Lewis Spence, Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt (1915). [1925]
10. Sister Nivedita and A. Coomaraswamy, Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists (1913). [1913]
11. Lewis Spence, The Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria (1916). [1920]
12. Woislav M. Petrovitch, Hero Tales and Legends of the Serbians (1917). [1921]

Harrap issued a number of similar works under related series titles. By 1909, there were nineteen volumes appeared in the "Told Through the Ages" series (advertised in no.2); in 1919 there were eleven volumes in the "Folk-Lore and Fairy Tales" series (advertised here). Four volumes more clearly related to the "Myths series" are:

13. Thomas Bulfinch, The Golden Age of Myth and Legend (1915).
14. Hélène A. Guerber, The Book of the Epic (1916).
15. Lewis Spence, Legends and Romances of Spain (1920).
16. E. T. C. Werner, Myths and Legends of China (1920).

Although they are uniformly gaudy, the Harrap volumes were not issued in a consistent series-style bindings. And not only do the bindings differ quite a bit from each other in style, each volume was offered in a variety of bindings. This is probably because they were marketed as Christmas gift books. An advertisement in The Publishers' Circular (5 October 1907): 381, explains "Our bindings are even more attractive than last year," being "The most handsome and attractive Gift-books of the 1907 Season." We get more details in The Bookman (December 1912), Christmas Supplement, p.141, which advertises no.6 as available in the following bindings: “Gilt-top, 7s. 6d. net; or Velvet Persian Yapp, 10s. 6d. net; also in choice bindings, Boxed, Full Morocco, 21s. net; Half Vellum, 15s. net; Half Morocco, 15s. net.”

In price order, these various bindings are

(a) cloth, gilt-top ("cloth extra") [in a dustwrapper]: 7s 6d
(b) full soft cowhide ("Velvet Persian Yapp"): 10s 6d
(c) "Half Morocco": 15s
(d) "Half Vellum": 15s
(e) "Full Morocco": 21s

Although I cannot find an advertisement for it, it appears likely that (narrow) quarter Morocco was also available, since my copy of no.14 is bound thus. So, we can probably add:

(f) quarter leather: [price?]

Not long after the initial release of the volumes in this series, they were re-issued in a uniform, plain, binding: at first a boring blue (1911–12), then an even-more boring green (1916–27). I have found pictures online of most of the initial binding styles, a few in cloth with dustwrappers; plus I also have a few pictures of multiple volumes in the boring series bindings. The selection of images below is intended to cover a range of titles and bindings.













Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Gresham, Myth and Legend series, 1912–24

Between 1912 and 1924 (or, possibly, 1930), Gresham published a beautiful series of books under the title "Myth and Legend in Literature and Art."

I have, and have had, a number of these Gresham volumes over the years, and have often idly wondered how many titles there were in the full series. When I recently went looking for an answer to this question, I found it harder than I expected to locate anything on the extent of the series; and so I have decided to collect some of the information I found here.

The Gresham series (and I specify the Gresham series to distinguish it from “The Myths Series” published by Harrap from 1907 to 1917) appears to have grown by fits and starts, but this appearance is deceptive. There was a regular progression in the publication of volumes in the series (as detailed below), but it was issued in two distinctive bindings: the first six volumes were issued in matching art nouveau bindings (1912–13); the series was later extended to eight volumes, which were issued (and re-issued) in a matching art deco bindings (1915–17); later still, the series was extended to ten volumes, in the same style of deco bindings (1923–24).

In 1930, another two volumes appeared; these volumes were not issued in series-matching cloth, although they are somewhat close in style, and they only appear in some of the publisher's (seemingly later) lists of volumes in the series. So, for instance, Myths from Myths from Melanesia and Indonesia (no.12) contained a list of "Myth and Legend in Literature and Art" volumes, but it stops with no.10; however, a later edition of Myths of China and Japan (no.9) includes nos. 11 and 12.

Although almost all volumes I have seen are undated, the sequence of volumes—as published and as listed in advertisements—is:

1. Charles Squire, Celtic Myth and Legend: Poetry and Romance ([1912]) [here].
2. A. R. Hope Moncrieff, Classic Myth and Legend ([1912]).
3. Donald A. Mackenzie, Teutonic Myth and Legend (1912) [here].
4. A. R. Hope Moncrieff, Romance and Legend of Chivalry ([1913]) [here].
5. Donald A. Mackenzie, Egyptian Myth and Legend ([1913]) [here].
6. Donald A. Mackenzie, Indian Myth and Legend (1913) [here].
7. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths of Babylonia and Assyria ([1915]) [here].
8. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths of Crete and pre-Hellenic Europe ([1917]) [here].
9. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths of China and Japan ([1923]) [here].
10. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths of Pre-Columbian America ([1924]) [here].
11. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths and Traditions of the South Sea Islands ([1930]) [here].
12. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths from Myths from Melanesia and Indonesia ([1930]) [here].

Below are some photos of these volumes in the earlier art nouveau bindings, and the later art deco bindings. Note, the volumes in these pictures are in no particular order and, in the case if the deco bindings, are not of all volumes; however, they should be sufficient to help readers differentiate the bindings and get an idea of the style of each.












Monday, 7 January 2019

More on the Vatican Enfer

In my recent post on “The myth of a Vatican porn collection” (here), I mentioned the popular conflation of the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum—the bibliography (published by the Vatican) of books that Catholics were prohibited from owning or reading—with the collection that the Vatican itself held.

Over Christmas break, I read an excellent essay on “Prohibited Books in the Clergy Library at Ovada” by Father Ivan Page (a lovely man, and a long-time member of the Centre for the Book at Monash, who died in 2012; see here for his obituary). Ivan’s essay contains fascinating new information about prohibited books that are (or once were) in the Vatican’s collections, by someone who knew the collection well. The essay helps explain how the myth of a Vatican porn collection may have arisen.

Ivan’s essay is based on a paper presented at the State Library of Victoria in July 2010, but has only just been published in a small collection of essays (Censorship in the Ancien Régime), in a limited edition, by the Ancora Press. Since this essay is unlikely to have the scholarly reach that this subject deserves I thought I’d mention it here. It is possible that others have previously reported on Ivan’s findings. If so, it is news to me!

* * * * *

The parts of Ivan’s essay that are of particular interest are pp.25–26 (concerning the fate of the Vatican’s banned books, which I will discuss today) and 39–42 (concerning licenses, which I will discuss on another occasion). Ivan conducted his research at the Vatican Library to discover why certain works had been put on the Index; consequently, he consulted the “Archives of the Congregation of the Index, which, since the Congregation no longer exists, are held with those of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (24–25). Since “it has only been possible for scholars to consult these archives since 1998 … the experience is still relatively rare” (25).

(I’d suggest that the experience is more than just rare, it would be a bibliophilic and bibliographic heaven! The records that Ivan had gone in search of are contained in “thick volumes of manuscript reports, mostly written in Latin, each one covering the Congregation’s activities for one or more years” (25). What an evocative description. Below is a reminder of what the Vatican library archives look like!)



Based on this 2005 article by Thomas Heneghan, which reviews the research undertaken by the Rev. Hubert Wolf**), Wikipedia explains (here), the administrative process of evaluating a work: the Congregation of the Index held meetings several times a year; works that were to be discussed at the meetings were thoroughly examined—two people scrutinizing each work. (Prohibitions made by other congregations, mostly the Holy Office, were passed on to the Congregation of the Index.)

At their meetings, the Congregation collectively decided whether to advise that the works should be included in the Index. Documentation from these meetings was passed on to the Pope, to aid him in making his decision. After the Pope decided whether to approve these works being added or removed from the Index, final decrees against the individual works were drafted by the Congregation and made public.

According to Ivan, “Where the work [being scrutinized by the Congregation was] a pamphlet, one sometimes finds it bound up with the report. According to the inventory,” however, “all the books referred to the Congregation were at one time shelved in the Secretary’s office. There came a time when they were too numerous for the space available. With the approval of the Pope, they were transferred to the Biblioteca Casanatense, one of the Dominican libraries in Rome. No instructions were given, such as requiring them to be kept together. The library took some of the books into its collection—and discarded the rest” (25).

Unfortunately, Ivan did not provide any references for this paragraph; his sudden death probably prevented him from fully referencing his essay as a whole. The claim, however, is clear: that the reports compiled by the Congregation of the Index were based on a close examination of the work concerned—something that required access to the book itself. As Ivan writes: while the decree “never gives the reason for the decision … the censor’s report analyses the work examined in some detail; it often quotes a selection of passages … and reminds the reader of the Church’s own teaching on the subject” (25).

It is clear, then, that the Congregation library did, at one time, contain copies of all of the works which it reported on—whether or not the work was ultimately added to the Index (and many were not added). That some pamphlets remain in the Congregation library, but that the bulk of them were—at some point—transferred to the Biblioteca Casanatense, which kept an unknown percentage of them.

It would be interesting to examine the Casanatense collection, to see whether it is possible to establish just how many of the works examined by the censor’s at the Congregation of the Index, survive. That is, what proportion of the Vatican’s enfer resides at Via di Sant'Ignazio, 52.

* * * * *

Rev. Hubert Wolf is the author of numerous relevant works in German: Inquisition, Index, Zensur [Inquisition, Index, Censor] (2003), Index. Der Vatikan und die verbotenen Bücher [The Index. The Vatican und the Forbidden Book] (2006), Verbotene Bücher. Zur Geschichte des Index im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert [Forbidden Books. The History of the Index in the 18th and 19th Centuries] (2008) etc., right up to the recent audio-book “Die verbotenen Bücher: Die geheimen Archive des Vatikan” ["The Forbidden Books: The secret archives of the Vatican"] (2018).

Collecting Haywood, the last two years

I have been inspired by David Levy’s “Year in Collecting” posts (here, here and here) to write something about the Eliza Haywood books I have managed to buy in the last couple of years.

I don’t usually say much about my purchases so soon after making them because, in many cases, I have only been able to buy a Haywood item cheaply because the person selling it is not aware of the Haywood connection. By publishing some of the details of these purchases here, I probably reduce the chances of being lucky again. I.e., I have a strong motivation to stay silent.

However, in this last few years, I seem to be buying fewer and fewer books anyway, and more of the ones I am buying are from established dealers. So, although I had a little bit of good fortune on eBay, for the most part—when something did come up—I was like the hero of this cartoon strip by Sarah Andersen—Boom!


What stands out, numerically, amongst the two dozen Haywood items I have bought over the last two years, are the seven copies of The Female Spectator, five copies of La Belle Assemblée and three copies of the elusive nineteenth-century reprints of—excuse this circumlocution—the English translation of the French translation of The Fortunate Foundlings (which I will avoid naming for now!). Interesting as these are, I will discuss them last, because the real highlights for me were among the other items.

But the two Haywood items I was most excited to find were a 1735 edition of A Wife to be Lett—a very early work by Haywood and the only play of hers I have seen in an original edition—and a first edition (albeit in a mixed set) of The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy, one of her major novels and, consequently, a work I never expected to be able to buy. (There is a lot more I could say about exactly why, but I will save that for another time.) The first of these was bought for a miserly sum (from Jarndyce!), the second … was the most expensive Haywood item I have bought in seven years.

I also found a lovely copy of the 1788 Harrison edition of The Invisible Spy—a book that I thought (for many years) would actually be very easy to find, but over time have I came to realise that it is extremely uncommon. Indeed, I had reached the point where I had begun to suspect that I would never find a copy of this volume. I was also pleased to find a second copy of a New Present for a Servant Maid. It was very defective (and, so, modestly priced, but it contains the all-important frontispiece that my first copy lacked. I love the image and so I was a very happy to find this indeed.

In what is still, sadly, an extremely uncommon occurrence, I was cold-contacted and offered a copy of a Haywood item—Sir Robert Walpole Vindicated, a pamphlet published by Haywood “at Fame in the Piazza Covent Garden.” This is only the second work I have that was published by Haywood. It would be nice to have more, since this is a period of her life that interests me the most, but many of these works survive in extremely small numbers.

I also picked up another issue of The Wife, Bowdlerised in Boston in 1806 (not a very nice copy, but only three others are known), odd volumes of Epistles for Ladies (1776), and the Dramatic Historiographer (1756) and a number of works of Haywoodiana: Richard Savage’s Miscellaneous poems and translations by several hands (1726), which contains a poem in praise of Haywood’s writing by Savage, Henry Fielding’s The Author’s Farce (1730), which contains a caricature of Haywood (as Mrs Novel), and The Historical Register, for the year 1736 … To which is added Eurydice hiss’d (1737), both of which include Haywood in the cast. Given the dearth of biographical information about Haywood, I particularly like these works that evidence her life outside of her works. There are not many of these and so it was nice to find three of them so close together.

Returning to the works that numerically dominated my collecting: concerning The Female Spectator, I have previously mentioned (here) three of the sets, which I bought from the same dealer, at great expense and with some misgivings, and which raised my total of the 1748 “Second” London edition up to seven. To these, I added a few sets of the 1775 Glasgow edition—one of them, a gorgeous set, was bought on my behalf by James Cummins at a New York auction. This was the first time I had a dealer buy at an auction for me; the process went very smoothly, and the commission and cost of postage was a lot less than I was expecting (for why, see below). However, getting the set to Melbourne turned out to be a bit of a saga. The books were held up in customs and it was almost two months of filling in ridiculous forms before I got them home.

The remaining set of The Female Spectator was of the first French translation—a stunning set of an edition not recorded in my Bibliography, but which I now refer to as Ab.60.10A (the imprints of which are dated 1750, 1750, 1750, 1751 instead of Ab.60.11’s 1749, 1750, 1750, 1751). I would like more of these early editions of <>La Spectatrice, for the same reason that I would like more copies of the first edition of The Female Spectator—just about every set I have examined closely is, in fact, different from every other set! A bibliographer heaven.

Among the sets of La Belle Assemblée that I picked was up a Dublin “Fourth” edition of 1740, whcih David located at a regional Irish auction—thanks David! The set is comprised of three separate printings, all of which are very rare. This was my first experience buying at a conventional auction-house from the other side of the world. The bidding went smoothly enough, but the cost of postage was mind-boggling: almost three hundred dollars! I did a lot better, less than a year later, by having an established dealer (James Cummins) buy on my behalf at an auction, and then package and post the item to me.

The most interesting of the Belle Assemblée sets was a volume containing first editions of the three parts of the first volume. All issues of these parts are very rare, and one of the Parts in this set was previously unknown to me (a “Third Edition” of Part 2). Like the first, octavo, editions of The Female Spectator, and the first French edition of the same work, every copy of the octavo Parts of La Belle Assemblée are always full of (bibliographical) surprises.

The remaining three sets of La Belle Assemblée are of no particular interest bibliographically, but they contain interesting provenance information—or rather, interesting to me. One day I hope to do a wide survey of the provenance of surviving copies of Haywood works, so I feel compelled to collect what I can. Unfortunately, from a collector’s point of view, “interesting provenance information” justifies the purchase of a great many duplicates, in very poor condition; so the less I say about these for now, the better!

The last the items I will mention today are editions of this work. As I said in 2010 “almost all editions are uncommon”—and remain so. Two of the three copies I bought in the last three years (Ed.59.16b2 from 1878 and Ed.59.18 from ca. 1880) were previously unknown to me, and the third (Ed.59.15b from 1822) was known in only a single copy. A monstrously-expensive copy of an issue I have not seen elsewhere has been available in Japan since at least August 2015 for 150K Yen (i.e., about two thousand dollars). I can’t bring myself to pay this sum, but it does reinforce the point about rarity: of the ten nineteenth-century editions and issues that I know of, two are known in only two copies, seven appear to be unique (including this Japanese one) and one has been lost!

Of course, I am probably the only person who is interested in these reprints of a translation of a translation, which is why—with the exception of the Japanese copy—they tend to sell quite cheaply, even from dealers such as Jarndyce. And, since I only have five of the ten editions and issues, let me finish by saying: Long may this obscurity reign!

It is probably just as well that I haven’t been exposed to any greater temptations than I have in the last two years, but it is hard not to be disappointed with the quality and quantity of Haywood material that has reached the market. As an eminent, and very experienced dealer, said to me recently: the well of Haywood material is running dry. He continued, “I'm not seeing real collections of early literature turning up anymore, here [in the US] or in England. I guess it’s just as well I'm getting old, but it would be more fun to go out with a bang instead of a whimper.” Hear, hear!