[The following paragraph comes from Ryals's introduction to Robert Elsemere (see bibliography) — George P. Landow

Decorated initial W

When a few chapters had been written, Mrs. Ward offered the book to Macmillan's, the publisher of Miss Bretherton; but the firm rejected it on the ground that the subject was unlikely to appeal to the British reading public. It was accepted by Smith, Elder, and Company in 1886, and almost two years later, on February 24, 1888, after much hard writing and many painful revisions, the novel was published in three volumes. The public's response was astonishing. Between the end of February and the end of June, the first edition, priced at thirty-one shillings sixpence, went through seven printings of 500 copies, most of them exhausted within a week of publication. A one-volume edition, priced at six shillings, which came out in July had sold 44,000 copies by January, 1890, and a half-crown edition published early in 1890 had sold 20,000 copies by November. Later on, sixpenny and sevenpenny editions sold in the hundreds of thousands. In America the sales were even more phenomenal. Macmillan's bought the American rights and brought out the first U.S. edition in April, 1888, but it is impossible to ascertain the number of copies circulated because of the many pirated editions. Mrs. Ward herself estimated that 500,000 copies were sold in the United States within a year of the book's publication. [xxi]


Ward, Mrs. Humphry. Robert Elsemere. Ed. Clyde de L. Ryals. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967.

Last modified 16 July 2014