Publishing Tennyson in the USA: the composition of books and the decomposition of relationships

Cheshire, Jim (2011) Publishing Tennyson in the USA: the composition of books and the decomposition of relationships. In: British Association of Victorian Studies Conference 2011: Composition and Decomposition, 01/09/2011 - 03/09/2011, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

The physical composition of editions of Tennyson's poetry was a key factor in their commercial success but while publishers sought to ensure broad appeal through illustrations and ornate covers, the poet was often disconcerted by the commercial nature of the books.
The commercial exploitation of Tennyson's poetry in England led to a decomposition in the poet's relations with his publisher. The poet had a strong personal relationship with Edward Moxon for over 25 years but after his death Tennyson became increasingly frustrated with the flagrant commercialism of James Bertrand Payne, the new manager of the Moxon firm, which lead to an acrimonious split in 1869. Almost simultaneously the relationship with Ticknor and Fields (his American publisher) broke down and the decomposition of these two relationships was probably connected.
In the American market 'foreign' authors were not protected by copyright and so, in theory, any publisher could reprint Tennyson's work and market the volumes. Despite this, Ticknor and Fields had paid Tennyson generous royalties since 1842, and, by 1868, the firm advertised eleven 'complete' editions of Tennyson's poetry. In 1870 Harper Brothers of New York published a comprehensive collected edition of Tennyson's poetry, generously illustrated with material owned by the Moxon firm. This edition broke the 'courtesy of the trade' and made public a number of early poems that Tennyson did not want republished.
This paper will trace the importance of the physical composition of Tennyson editions in England and the USA and explain how the decomposition of Tennyson's personal relationship with his English publisher infected his fragile agreement with Ticknor and Fields in America.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:The physical composition of editions of Tennyson's poetry was a key factor in their commercial success but while publishers sought to ensure broad appeal through illustrations and ornate covers, the poet was often disconcerted by the commercial nature of the books. The commercial exploitation of Tennyson's poetry in England led to a decomposition in the poet's relations with his publisher. The poet had a strong personal relationship with Edward Moxon for over 25 years but after his death Tennyson became increasingly frustrated with the flagrant commercialism of James Bertrand Payne, the new manager of the Moxon firm, which lead to an acrimonious split in 1869. Almost simultaneously the relationship with Ticknor and Fields (his American publisher) broke down and the decomposition of these two relationships was probably connected. In the American market 'foreign' authors were not protected by copyright and so, in theory, any publisher could reprint Tennyson's work and market the volumes. Despite this, Ticknor and Fields had paid Tennyson generous royalties since 1842, and, by 1868, the firm advertised eleven 'complete' editions of Tennyson's poetry. In 1870 Harper Brothers of New York published a comprehensive collected edition of Tennyson's poetry, generously illustrated with material owned by the Moxon firm. This edition broke the 'courtesy of the trade' and made public a number of early poems that Tennyson did not want republished. This paper will trace the importance of the physical composition of Tennyson editions in England and the USA and explain how the decomposition of Tennyson's personal relationship with his English publisher infected his fragile agreement with Ticknor and Fields in America.
Keywords:Tennyson, Publishing History, Harper Brothers, Ticknor and Fields, Moxon and Co., James Bertrand Payne
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V232 USA History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V144 Modern History 1800-1899
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q322 English Literature by author
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q321 English Literature by period
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Art & Design
ID Code:4940
Deposited By: Jim Cheshire
Deposited On:08 Mar 2012 16:12
Last Modified:08 Mar 2012 16:12

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