Scott's Last Edition: A Study in Publishing History

By Jane Millgate | Go to book overview

THREE
James Ballantyne and the Printing of the magnum

Scott's work on textual revision and the composition of notes for the magnum did not proceed undisturbed; matters concerning the actual production of the edition were often forced upon his attention. In particular he found himself dragged into a series of ongoing disputes between Cadell and the printer James Ballantyne. The ruthlessness Cadell was prepared to display in his dealings with Simpkin and Marshall was not reserved for London. He was ready to press equally hard on James Ballantyne. And while Scott might be kept out of the arguments related to the distribution side of the edition he could not hope to be spared the conflicts over the printing. The distrust between Cadell and Ballantyne derived from earlier days; both had memories of contests dating well back into the history of Constable and Co., to a time when Scott and Ballantyne were not only partners in the printing firm of Ballantyne and Co. but associated together in every aspect of Scott's literary life. 1

Scott and Ballantyne had been friends since their schooldays in Kelso in the 1780s, Ballantyne had printed Scott's works since 1799, and it was at Scott's suggestion that he had given up his newspaper business in Kelso and moved his printing operation to Edinburgh in 1803. Scott became a partner in the printing house in 1805, though this was not made public. 2 All his own works were printed by the firm and he did everything he could to bring it more business. 3 Ballantyne's role in relation to Scott was, however, far more than that of business partner or printer. He, or his brother John, had overseen the transcription of all the novels; he had acted as first proof-reader; he had given his opinion on the

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