AUTHORS AND THE BEGINNINGS OF
With some notable but individual exceptions, most authors continued to sell their copyrights outright until nearly the end of the nineteenth century. Authorship was still relatively young as a profession, and attempts to unite it were, on the whole, unsuccessful.
The earliest known authors' organisation was the Society for the Encouragement of Learning, founded in 1735 to give authors a rightful share in the profits of their books.1 Jerdan's account is of a plan to publish works of 'sterling quality'.2 The committee of management included 'noblemen and scholars of the highest rank' as well as 'representatives of professional authorship'.3 It seems to have been a wholly philanthropic organisation, which did its own publishing and gave all profits to the authors. Although this aim proved unsustainable, it apparently alarmed the commercial book trade. Three booksellers were appointed, with a 33 per cent 'allowance', later reduced to 15 per cent. In fact the booksellers would neither buy nor sell the society's books, and putting the sales into the hands of adversaries was seen to be an error. Charles Rivington was an active member but 'as he and his colleagues sustained much injury through it, he withdrew from it'.4 The____________________