Edward Moxon: Publisher of Poets

By Harold G. Merriam | Go to book overview

Chapter 2 CONDITIONS OF PUBLISHING BEFORE 1830

HARRIET MARTINEAU, writing in the middle of the nineteenth century, describes the change that had by that time come over bookselling and book publishing:

Samuel Rogers lived through the whole period when the publishers were the patrons of literature, and witnessed the complete success of Mr. Dickens's plan of independence of the publishers themselves. He was a youth of fifteen or thereabouts when half "the town" was scandalized at Dr. Johnson's audacity in saying what he did to Lord Chesterfield; and the other half was delighted at the courage of the rebuke. He knew that kind of literary patronage which even the Priestleys of those days accepted as a matter of course: Dr. Priestley living with Lord Shelburne, without office; and afterward, his being provided with an income by the subscription of friends, to enable him to carry on his philosophical researches. Then came the new aspect of things, when the Byrons, the Moores, Campbells, and Scotts, were the clients of the Murrays, the Longmans, the Constables--that remarkable but rather short transition stage when, as Moore said, the patrons learned perforce, through interest, the taste which had not been formed by education. Those were the days of bookselling monopoly, when the publisher decided what the reading public should have to read, and at what price. Rogers saw that monopoly virtually destroyed; the greatness of the great houses passing away, or reduced to that of trade eminence simply; and authors and the public brought face to face, or certain to be so presently.1

Although wealthy men and titled men gave their patronage long after Johnson's "audacity," literary men preferred their influence. Samuel Rogers,2 himself a poet, wealthy, moving in high circles, whose house in St. James's Street was a gathering-place for literary people, offered freely to literary men both his money and the use of his name. He gave five hundred pounds to help Moore free him-

____________________
1
Harriet Martineau, Biographical Sketches, "Samuel Rogers," p. 52. The Preface is dated 1858.
2
See Clayden, Rogers and His Contemporaries.

-17-

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Edward Moxon: Publisher of Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Chapter I the Years Before Publishing, 1801-30 1
  • Chapter 2- Conditions of Publishing Before 1830 17
  • Chapter 3 Early Business Years 25
  • Chapter 4 Business Expansion 47
  • Chapter 5 Moxon and Charles - And Mary Lamb 60
  • Chapter 6 Business Policies 75
  • Chapter 7- Typical Relations With Authors 89
  • Chapter 8 Trade Relations 101
  • Chapter 9- Moxon and Established Writers 110
  • Chapter 10 Moxon and Wordsworth 130
  • Chapter 11 New Names 150
  • Chapter 12 Moxon and Tennyson 169
  • Chapter 13 Later Years 188
  • Chapter 14 Evaluation 196
  • Bibliography 201
  • Index 213
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