The Mini-Series in 1878

Just re-read Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native (outstanding) and watched the 1994 movie (pretty good.) The book, like much Victorian literature, was originally serialized in a magazine, in this case Belgravia: a Magazine of Fashion and Amusement.

I found the original illustrations that accompanied the serialization here. Inclusion of illustrations was apparently quite expensive in comparison with straight text, even after the efficiency improvements that went with higher print volumes, so they tended to be fairly scarce–only 12 of them for the whole serialized novel, in this case.

More about the book and the economics of Victorian publishing here…it is interesting that the high cost of books encouraged lending libraries to insist that books be published broken into multiple volumes, so that reader access to the book could be “timeshared,” resulting in a higher ratio of revenue to cost.

Hardy and the artist who did the illustrations (Arthur Hopkins) were able to collaborate only by mail, and Hardy was not thrilled with the first image of his main female protagonist, Eustacia…he was happier with the later versions of this character.

2 thoughts on “The Mini-Series in 1878”

  1. Pawn Stars, the only TV show I watch, had an episode lest week in which Rick bought two volumes of a 1904 edition of a long novel (48 volumes, I think) that were lavishly illustrated and bound in velum. The value was less than he had thought but the illustrations were valuable and brought the value of the two volumes up to about $3000.

    In 1914, Sir William Osler and a number of others were scheduled to attend a ceremony in the 400th anniversary of Vesalius’ birth and to display the only velum copy of his famous anatomy book, “De humani corporis fabrica .” Unfortunately, the Germans invaded and destroyed the Louvain library and the book.

  2. Dickens was so popular in the US that — IIRC – crowds met the boats carrying newspapers with his serialized stories on the dock. The only thing that comes close to it was the reception of AK Rowling’s Harry Potter books on the day of their release.

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