t is inaccurate to speak of Thackeray's American publishers as though there was a formal relationship, for every American edition was a reprint of material originally published in England, and until 1852 every American edition was unauthorized. Conventional analysis of American literary piracy notes that there was no international copyright law until 1891, that cross-Atlantic literary piracy was not a legal crime, and that American protectionism and isolation stood in the way of international legislation for literary rights. Cynics are fond of noting in addition that whatever effect it had on authors, the absence of the law did not hurt American publishers until such a time as there was an American literature they might be able to sell to an international market. The absence of an international [123/124] law was not so much a cause as it was a symptom of conditions in the publishing world that prevailed on both sides of the Atlantic, but which publishers on the American side managed to enjoy for a longer time and with fewer inhibitions than did those on the English side.
The first surprising fact is that Thackeray himself found those early unauthorized American appearances of his work interesting and important. The wisdom of his way of looking at the situation is supported by the fact that he eventually came to benefit financially from an American market in spite of the absence throughout his lifetime of any copyright protection for his works in America.
Aside from the author-subsidized publication of Flore et Zéphyr, a book of twelve lithographs with captions produced in London in 1836, American publishers were the first to recognize in the magazinery of the struggling journalist the stuff for book work. The Yellowplush Correspondence, which Thackeray had written as a loosely connected series for Fraser's Magazine in 1837, became, early the next year, in the hands of Cary and Hart of Philadelphia, his first book. The company's "Cost Books" indicate the production of 1,000 copies at a cost of twenty-four cents per copy (PHS). That cost, of course, included no payment to the author. I have not found what the books were sold for or how many were actually sold, but there was apparently no demand for a reprint, for none is recorded.
English authors and publishers might rant and rave about American literary piracy, but Americans had, at least in the 1830s and 40s, nothing to fear and no incentive to care what the English establishment thought (see Pollard's account of English and American copyright relations for the period). For his part, Thackeray began by looking with sardonic curiosity and a philosophical attitude at his American successes. He may have rued the failure to get any payment for Yellowplush or for the putative reprinting of The Historical Reminiscences of Major Gahagan (a work as yet unseen by any bibliographer), but he benefited, nonetheless, by these piracies, for he used their existence to convince his first English book publishers, John Macrone and his successor Hugh Cunningham, to publish Yellowplush and Gahagan along with a few other items in a two-volume collection called Comic Tales. In the preface to the collection he remarked on the popularity of The Yellowplush Papers in America "where they have been reprinted more than once," adding that Gahagan was "received by our American brethren with similar piratical honours; and the editor has had the pleasure of perusing them likewise." [124/125]
Though Thackeray's journalism continued to be reprinted in American magazines, a lull in book publication set in and lasted until 1844, a condition no doubt irritating to Thackeray who was having a hard time getting anything into book form anywhere. It is possible that in 1844 J. Winchester, a New York publisher, reprinted The Irish Sketch-Book, without formal arrangements with its author, of course. (The Winchester edition is undated, and bibliographers have failed to find or report external evidence of the date of appearance.) In the next few years before Vanity Fair, American publishers in New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia reprinted Notes on a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo and Jeame's Diary with impunity.
Throughout his career, in fact, Thackeray expressed willingness to take half a loaf when there was no whole loaf to be had or to dine on mutton when there was no venison. But with the publication of Vanity Fair, January 1847-July 1848, Thackeray's attitude changed along with the shift in his economic situation. In the early days of Vanity Fair, he wrote that the book "did everything but sell, and appears really immensely to increase my reputation if not my income" (Letters 2: 318), But when, in August 1848, he could write that "Vanity Fair is doing very well commercially I'm happy to say at last" (Letters 2: 420), he knew he had gained bargaining power, and he quickly developed the ability and habit of persuading publishers to raise his fees.
At first this power did not extend over American publishers. Harper and Brothers was the first to cash in freely on the economic strength of the new superstar, but that firm was in no hurry. Its two-volume paperbound edition of Vanity Fair was published in July and August 1848, after the entire serial had run its course in England (Harper MS, Butler). In December, Harper coolly added The Great Hoggarty Diamond to its list by lifting it from Fraser's Magazine, thereby, apparently by coincidence rather than malice aforethought, predating the authorized English reprinting by three months. With Pendennis, as with Vanity Fair, there was no rush of competition among the American pirates. The first of Harper's eight-part reprint appeared on 14 August 1849, ten and a half months after the London publication of the first serial part. Surviving Harper and Brothers records show no payments to English author or publishers for these three works, though the company's record of reprints over the next twenty-five years indicates how lucrative the piracy of superstars could be.
While lack of competition for Vanity Fair might be attributed to the fact that Thackeray was not yet a popular author, that for Pendennis might have resulted, instead, from the operation of a self-imposed but not very binding "courtesy of the trade" practiced among the more established [125/126] American publishers. These large publishing houses knew that competition for marginal books was detrimental to profits. In fact, the only book by Thackeray that was published simultaneously by two American publishers was The Virginians. Thackeray attributed the reluctance of American pirates to publish his works to the fact that Harper and Brothers was too difficult to compete with. Probably, however, The Virginians was the first of Thackeray's works thought to be worth fighting over.
When, in October 1852, Thackeray met the Harper brothers in New York at their homes, he reportedly greeted James Harper's daughter with the words, "So this is a 'pirate's' daughter, is it?" (Crowe, p. 66) But on 26 November, Thackeray could write to his English publisher George Smith that "Messrs. Harper through your friend Mr. Low have communicated with me & to-night after the Lecture made me an offer of 1,000$ for the publication of my Lectures, simultaneously with the re-issue in England - I shall thankfully accept the same & keep this little sum for myself this time" (NLS). He went on to describe New York as "the only city in wh. piracy is, I think, most to be feared" (NLS). And early in January he eased Smith's anxiety about getting the English edition of the lectures in print, saying, "I should not like the Lectures to go to press without reviewing, & here & there altering them; there's no danger now of their being pirated in this Country, the Harper's being the chief buccaneers, & the perfect terror of all their brethren in these seas" (NLS). Thackeray's confidence in the horror of American publishing pirates is evident in the tone with which he declined a rival offer for the lectures from George P. Putnam of Philadelphia: "All things considered, I think it best that I should accept their [Harper's] liberal proposal. I thank you very much for your generous offer; and for my own sake, as well as that of my literary brethren in England, I am sincerely rejoiced to find how very kindly the American publishers are disposed towards us" (Letters 3: 131). Of course, kindness may have had nothing to do with it. There were, for one thing, no printed copies of the lectures available for pirating, so any publisher in this case would have to deal directly with the author or work from transcripts made at the lectures. And in the second place, it might have been the opinion of the American publishers that while one edition of the lectures could be produced profitably, the market would not bear two. Such a judgment, combined perhaps with the workings of trade courtesy, probably kept Putnam from issuing a pirated edition. The Harper records do show payments for all of Thackeray's books beginning with Henry Esmond, but, curiously, they also show [126/127] a December 1848 payment of £3.3 for Dr. Birch, a Christmas book published in England by Chapman and Hall, which Harper never published.17
The second American publisher to cash in on Thackeray's growing reputation was William Appleton. In 1852, under the direction of Evert Duyckinck, Appleton launched its Popular Library. Thackeray's name topped the list of proposed authors in the prospectus, and Yellowplush was the first of his works in the series. It is probable that the people at Appleton knew or hoped at the outset of this project that Thackeray would be coming to America in October of that year. Thackeray's first mention of a possible lecture trip to America appeared in a letter written to his mother on 3 January 1851, though one thing after another intervened to postpone the trip until the end of October 1852. The lecture series in London began in May 1851, and in June he signed the contract with George Smith for Henry Esmond, which was not completed until the end of May 1852. However, in May 1852 Thackeray responded to the New York Mercantile Library Association's invitation to lecture there; so, no doubt, word had by then gotten around that Thackeray was planning to come to America. The trip was actually worked out for Thackeray by James T. Fields, of Ticknor and Fields in Boston, a publishing house which failed to cash in on Thackeray until 1855 when it reprinted a small book of ballads. It seems likely then that the trip was well known far in advance and that Duyckinck planned Appleton's Popular Library with the impending trip in mind. When Thackeray arrived in Boston on 13 November, the fledgling Appleton Popular Library already contained The Yellowplush Papers, The Paris Sketch Book (in two volumes), The Book of Snobs, Men's Wives, and A Shabby Genteel Story. Four more volumes were announced as "nearly ready" in the week Thackeray arrived in New York, though only three of them were published (The Luck of Barry Lyndon, in two volumes, and The Confessions of Fitz-Boodle and Some Passages in the Life of Major Gahagan). In all, nine volumes were produced in the series without a by-your-leave or any planned financial arrangement with the author. Appleton, to its credit, [127/128] was quick to redress the moral wrong, though there had been no legal wrong committed. Of course, the redress of moral wrongs is never as expensive as that for legal ones; Appleton approached Thackeray with £100 "to edit a couple of volumes out of Punch" (Letters 3: 121).
Thackeray recounted that while on board ship just out from Liverpool en route to Boston and before the passengers had acquired sea legs, a young man representing the firm of Appleton approached him with a publishing proposal. What the proposal was or what the outcome, Thackeray did not disclose, for at that moment the ship gave an unusually large heave and the two gentlemen were obliged to approach the rail and bring up accounts of a different nature. There can be little doubt, however, that the proposal was to make up two or three volumes from his contributions to Punch for the Popular Library and to write a preface. Thackeray's response as reported to his daughters in a letter home was, "So you see here is the harvest and let us reap it against the winter comes" (Letters 3: 121). In 1853 Appleton published four new volumes of Thackeray's miscellaneous works and produced a second edition of A Shabby Genteel Story18.
Thackeray's preface to the first Punch volume in the Appleton series remarks on the authority of the texts and reveals fairly honestly his attitude toward the American appropriation of his work.
coming into this country I found that the projectors of this series of little books had preceded my arrival by publishing a number of early works, which have appeared under various pseudonyms during the last fifteen years. I was not the master to choose what stories of mine should appear or not: these miscellanies were all advertised, or in course of publication; nor have I had the good fortune to be able to draw a pen, or alter a blunder of author or printer, except in the case of the accompanying volumes, which contain contributions to Punch, whence I have been enabled to make something like a selection.
Later in the preface he adds:
That extreme liberality with which American publishers have printed the works of English authors, has had at least this beneficial result for us, that our names and writings are known by multitudes using our common mother tongue, who never had heard of us or our books but for the speculators who have sent them all over this continent.
It is, of course, not unnatural for the English writer to hope, that [128/129] someday he may share a portion of the profits which his works bring at present to the persons who vend them in this country; and I am bound gratefully to say myself, that since my arrival here I have met with several publishing houses who are willing to acknowledge our little claim to participate in the advantages arising out of our books; and the present writer having long since ascertained that a portion of a loaf is more satisfactory than no bread at all, gratefully accepts and acknowledges several slices which the book purveyors in this city have proffered to him of their free will.
If we are not paid in full and in specie as yet, English writers surely ought to be thankful for the very great kindness and friendliness with which the American public receives them; and if he hopes some day that measures may pass here to legalize our right to profit a little by the commodities which we invent and in which we deal, I for one can cheerfully say, that the good will towards us from publishers and public is undoubted, and wait for still better times with perfect confidence and humour.
If I have to complain of any special hardship, it is, not that our favourite works are reproduced, . . . but that ancient magazines are ransacked, and shabby old articles dragged out, which we had gladly left in the wardrobes where they have lain hidden many years. There is no control, however, over a man's thought — once uttered and printed, back they may come upon its on any sudden day.
The Appleton preface shows Thackeray as a deft diplomatist, expressing his pleasure in the evident pleasure of American publishers and public alike. Thackeray's sincerity in this regard can be measured by remarks he made at about the same time in letters to England — "Even the publishers are liberal one gives me a thousand dollars and another 500 or perhaps 1000 more for books to be republished" (Letters 3:132). "I have made 1200£ by coming here already - 800 by the lectures and 4 by my books, money wh. I shouldn't have had had I staid home" (Letters 3: 149) "It would have been worth my while even for my books to come out here: the publishers are liberal enough and will be still more so with any future thing I may do" (Letters 2: 154) "Appleton Harper & others all give or offer me money. I shall be able to add something like 40 per Cent to the value of my future books" (Letters 3:158). To the Boston publisher Fields, Thackeray wrote from New York: "The publishers here are acting most generously with regard to my works, past, present, & to come; in fact it was a lucky Friday when I set foot in the country" (Huntington).
However, the possibility of a whole loaf remained very attractive, [129/130] too. While lecturing in Washington, he dined and talked with a great many persons in government, including the incumbent president, Millard Fillmore, and incoming president, Franklin Pierce. From the American capital he wrote, "I hear the most cheering accounts (but this is a secret I believe) of the International Copyright bill, wh. upon my conscience will make me 5000 dollars a year the richer" (Letters 3:204). The attempt Thackeray referred to as "a secret I believe" was surely something he learned upon his arrival in Washington. The first strategy in the movement to promote an international agreement about copyright had been to jockey a copyright bill through the House of Representatives [The following account is derived form Barnes, pp. 177-262, a fascinating and detailed exploration of various attempts to establish an international agreement in America]. It was being promoted by John F. Crampton, British foreign minister to Washington, who had recently taken over that position and project from Edward Bulwer Lytton's brother, Henry. It was a secret because the attempts to orchestrate the necessary support just to get the bill introduced and approved at committee level were complicated, expensive, and drawn out. Its supporters did not want American book publishers, book manufacturers, and that part of the American book-buying population that thrived on low-priced, unauthorized reprintings of British writings to mount a lobby against the bill until it had gotten a head of steam. Thackeray may have known about it before, for an appeal had been made early in 1852 to English authors and publishers for financial support for the effort. Smith, Elder and Chapman and Hall had contributed £50 each; Bradbury and Evans and Charles Dickens gave £100 each. In all, a variety of authors, publishers, and booksellers contributed £1,000 finance the legislation. Thackeray, however, is not among those recorded as contributors.
In addition to his secret efforts to promote a copyright bill in the House, Crampton was secretly negotiating an Anglo-American copyright treaty with the secretary of state, Daniel Webster. Crampton had to keep information about the proposed treaty from those involved with the House bill because a treaty, since it did not require House action, might be seen in the House as an attempt to circumvent its authority. And then, apparently to Crampton's surprise, a separate petition for a copyright bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Charles Sumner, with the support of senators Andrew Butler20of South Carolina and M. T Hunter and [130/131] James M. Mason of Virginia. The fact was that there was considerable support in America, particularly among its writers, for a fair copyright agreement. The opposition came primarily from publishers and even more from book manufacturers, typesetters, type foundries, stereotypers, and bookbinders.
By the time Thackeray reached Washington in February 1853, Daniel Webster had died; his successor Edward Everett seemed less keen on dealing with Crampton, whom he apparently did not like; and the publishers had gotten wind of the proposed agreement and had submitted a list of objections to the copyright treaty. Thackeray met Crampton, and together they drafted a response to those objections.21 The effect must have been good, for on 17 February 1853 Everett signed the treaty, which then had to be delivered to the Senate for ratification. Delay followed delay; the Senate adjourned for the summer; other Anglo-American treaties and crises intervened; proposed amendments were negotiated by the Americans and objected to by the British; and worse, the American opposition lobby gained momentum. In August 1852 President Fillmore had written to Harper and Brothers asking for its opinion regarding an international copyright treaty. The response was ambiguous and evasive, declining to try to influence the government on a matter affecting so many different kinds of people. In May 1853 a similarly oracular statement was published in the editor's "Easy Chair" of Harper's Magazine: "We may not pass by silently the new stir in relation to an international copyright. And however the question may finally be settled, we welcome the discussion, and the interest in the discussion, as so many tokens of the increased consideration which is given, both by people and by government, to the making and printing of books. Twenty odd millions of people in our commonwealth are furnishing a host of readers; and it behooves government and people to consider wisely what sort of reading is to be furnished, and what sort of pay the furnishers are to receive." (Harper, pp. 107, 117). Having lobbed this bit of wisdom from a firm position on the fence, the editor went on to cloud [131/132] the issue with irrelevant arguments about whether authors could or could not make a decent living and to poke fun at Edward Bulwer Lytton for guessing at the amount of money he could have made had there been an international law. The fact is that Harper and Brothers, whose history of piracy and whose system of small payments for advance sheets from English authors must have overcome their sense of the fairness of paying full rates in a regulated trade, stood to gain nothing by a copyright treaty. The treaty failed in 1854. There would be no international copyright law until 1891.
Nevertheless, by 1853 Thackeray's power and confidence as a major economic commodity made it possible for him practically to write his own ticket with the publishers in ways unavailable to many of his contemporaries, yet that power did not mean that his relations with publishers went smoothly.
In 1851 the author of Vanity Fair and Pendennis discovered with some astonishment that the lecture circuit was more lucrative in the short run than book publication. The contract for Esmond had stipulated that Thackeray would not publish anything anywhere within six months of the publication of that book, but he did not publish anything except Esmond in the whole of 1852. Yet his income from lecturing and the sale of "moral rights" to his books in America made it the most financially satisfying year he had ever had since 1832 when he came into his patrimony.
It should not escape notice that the unauthorized Appleton editions were dragged into the mainstream of textual history when Thackeray used them as the basis for the authorized Miscellanies produced by Bradbury and Evans in London. And it is questionable whether Thackeray actually took the opportunity to select and correct the texts of the three volumes of Punch material; one can only assume that he selected or at least reviewed the selection of items for those three Appleton volumes. Two of the volumes Appleton had announced as nearly ready in November 1852 did not appear as advertised; their alterations may well have been influenced by Thackeray. Furthermore, the parody of James Fenimore Cooper in Punch's Prize Novelists was emitted either by Thackeray who was already embarrassed by the Bulwer satire or by Evert Duyckinck who may have been more sensitive on behalf of American than British writers. But it is known that Thackeray did little if any correcting, and he did no revising for Appleton. The text of Mr. Brown's Letters to a Young Man about Town, for example, differs from the Punch text only in spelling and punctuation. Some Punch errors were corrected, but a number of new errors were introduced. No change bears the unmistakable stamp of authority. Most [132/133] of the alterations are neither errors nor corrections, though unlike Harper and Brothers, which systematically house-styled Thackeray's spelling and punctuation for its reprints, Appleton did not. The effect, therefore, on the authority of the Bradbury and Evans reprints of the mid-1850s, even though Thackeray did revise slightly at that time, is that of progressive minor deterioration of textual authority.
In April 1853 Thackeray returned to England and soon agreed with Bradbury and Evans, the publishers of Vanity Fair and Pendennis, to write The Newcomes in twenty-four monthly parts. In June he wrote to Harper that "it will appear as soon as possible after the termination of Mr. Dickens' serial, and I hope you will be inclined to treat with me for the republication of my story in America, upon the same terms wh. you give Mr. Dickens and Sir Bulwer Lytton. I do not intend to begin to publish until several numbers are completed, and propose to devote the whole of the next 12 months to this story ... please to tell me that you have paid to my account ... the $1000 I am to receive from you for the publication of my lectures. I hope they have been as successful with you as in London, where we sold the whole of the first edition of 2500 (at 10/6) in a week."(Robert F. Batchelder Catalogue no.60, item 95). During the next few months Thackeray visited with his family, toured the Continent, and wrote four numbers of The Newcomes with which he returned to London on the first of September where he discovered that in his absence Harper and Brothers had offered him £10 per number.21 Thackeray immediately wrote to Bradbury and Evans noting Harper's condition that "they could get my numbers 6 weeks before it was printed here - so unless we put off till Nov. I lose £240" (Letters 3: 300). Bradbury and Evans did not put off the projected publication, the first number appearing in London on 1 October. Later that month Thackeray wrote Bradbury and Evans again: "I just find a letter from Mr. Low . . . proposing still to treat with me on behalf of Messrs. Harper, and to secure you." By this time his tone is plaintive, perhaps on the edge of irritation: "Could one of you see Mr. Low without delay to day if possible as a Steamer starts tomorrow wh. might take out no 3 if you so chose. They did not publish no 1. No Briton has pirated it - it is impossible that it should now be touched and I have the consolation of thinking that my [£]300 have been lost from a panic where there was no danger. Some of it however may be recovered if you'll have the goodness to go to Lowe. Do [133/134] try to day" (Bodleian). The Harper "Priority List" of payments made to English publishers for advance sheets indicates that Harper paid only it £150 ($750) for The Newcomes (Harper MS, Butler), which appeared in Harper's Magazine from November 1853 through October 1855.
Whether or not a lesson in international relations had been learned from the experience with The Newcomes is impossible to know, but the arrangements for The Virginians, which began publication in London on 1 November 1857, seem to have worked out a little better from Thackeray's point of view and worse from Harper's. As before, the negotiations with Harper's agent, Sampson Low, were carried out by Thackeray, but the business of collecting the money and sending the advance proofs was left to the publisher. When in early October 1857 news of bank failures in America reached England, Thackeray wrote to his American friends the Baxters fearful "that all the American savings were gone to smash, including the 500£ from Harper Brothers for the Virginians" (Letters 4: 55). It was with some relief that he wrote a note to Bradbury and Evans on 3 December saying: "I hear that Messrs. Harper of New York have forwarded funds to meet their engagements in this country, and shall be glad to have payment for my 2 numbers of the Virginians. Will you or Mr. Joyce call on Messrs. Low and receive the monthly money on behalf of Yours very Faithfully W M Thackeray" (Letters 4: 58).
Meanwhile, a sticky situation was developing for the chief of American literary buccaneers. Serialization in Harper's Magazine began in the issue dated December, which appeared in the middle of November. A few days later The Virginians reappeared in the New York Semi-Weekly Tribune. Harper immediately appealed to Thackeray through Sampson Low to do something; on 11 December he replied:
I am sorry to hear from you that the N Y. Tribune is reprinting the Virginians, and no doubt hurting the Messrs, Harpers' Issue of the story, who pay me 100$ per month for early impression. But I do not see what good any remonstrances of mine can effect. If American houses choose to reprint our books we can't prevent them, and the Tribune will doubtless take it's own course, in spite of any objections of mine or Messrs. Harper. Could English writers have remonstrated with any effect we should have done so years ago: but I am sure an outcry at present would neither be useful nor dignified; and can only express my regret that I dont see how, in the present instance, I can be of any service to a House wh. shows itself inclined to act in a kind and friendly manner to English literary men. [Berg] [134/135]
A postscript in a scribal copy of this letter notes, "I am just advised of your payment for No I & II & hope to send you no III next week" (Beinecke). This letter is barbed (which may account for why the postscript was deleted from the letter actually sent): the reference to English authors being unable to prevent American houses from printing their works and the explanation that the unhappiness of the situation was one which English writers had been frustrated about for years are pointed reminders that there was no international copyright agreement. Thackeray must have known of the Harper firm's failure to take any active role in support of the copyright initiatives in 1853-54, though the firm had assured President Fillmore in 1853 that an international copyright arrangement "becomes more and more manifest."(Harper, p. 107) Thackeray probably could not help hinting to the company that it was merely suffering the consequences of its own complacency and receiving, besides, only what it had dished out so generously over the years in which it had gained the reputation of a pirate. On the other hand, Thackeray's letter shows his deft diplomacy in the reference to Harper's freely chosen attempts to be kind and friendly to English literary men.
Harper and Brothers continued to chaff ineffectually at the Tribune, accusing the newspaper of lifting the story from Harper's and remarking sarcastically that the Tribune "had been leading advocates of an International Copyright Law," The Tribune claimed on 26 November that the novel was "carefully reprinted from a London copy" and that readers could expect it "in the Weekly and Semi-Weekly Tribune, usually a few days in advance of its appearance in any other American publication." Harper's printed response was: "This is simply untrue - HARPER'S MAGAZINE for January was published on the 17th of December; it contained Part II of Mr. Thackeray's Novel, in which three slight corrections were made from the London copy. The Virginians was 'carefully reprinted,' in the Semi-Weekly Tribune the next day. When the Editor of the Tribune receives a London copy, he will be able to ascertain what these alterations are." Confronted with this damning evidence, the Tribune countered that the Harper's was contaminating the text and thus breaking faith with the public. The legalities were a moot point, a fact not lost on the newspaper, which had nothing to fear but a little bad publicity (Excerpts in Harper, pp. 115-16; Wilson, 2: 399). [135/136]
Once George Smith had fished for and netted Thackeray, a series of complicated and restrictive contracts organized his financial fortunes from 1860 until his death in 1863. In these contracts Smith specified that the income from foreign editions would go to the publisher, and Thackeray no longer concerned himself with the proper fulfillment of these foreign agreements. But until then the frequently frantic negotiations on his own behalf which characterized Thackeray's dealings with his publishers on both sides of the Atlantic may be an indication that the absence of all international copyright law was merely a symptom, not a cause, of the turmoil and uncertainty in the transatlantic profession of authorship in the 1840s and 1850s. The cause seems to have been the laissez-faire economics that made a free-for-all in which the devil might take the hindmost on both sides of the Atlantic even in the case of popular authors. In such conditions the publishers had the upper hand; the history of copyright legislation from that time forward was the history of increased protection of authors' rights, not publishers' rights.
Last modified 20 July 2012