The Nineteenth-Century Novel – When the Printed Word was King


The Nineteenth-Century Novel – When the Printed Word was King
Collecting Victorian Bestsellers: Are they ‘Dogs’ or Objects of Desire?  The October 2013 seminar in the book-collecting series organised jointly by the Institute of English Studies (London University) and the Rare Book Society was given by Brian Lake of Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers of Great Russell Street.

The Jarndyce business was founded by Brian in 1969 and is well known for the strength and depth of its stock, reflected in an impressive series of catalogues. Recent topics have included Charles Dickens, Seventeenth, Eighteenth and especially Nineteenth-Century Books & Pamphlets, London, Women Writers, Language and Education, Economic, Social & Political History (including Philosophy), Books in Translation, Bloods and Penny Dreadfuls, Chapbooks & Broadsides, Yellowback Novels, Plays & Theatre, and Newspapers.

The seminar addressed a collecting conundrum. Sales of the most popular novels in the Victorian era were in the tens, even hundreds, of thousands. Booksellers have often dismissed these books as unsaleable ‘dogs’ – but they were the popular sensations of the age, the epitome of taste and fashion. How does the twenty-first century collector decide what to buy and what to ditch?

The seminar took place on Tuesday 8 October 2013 at Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. 

The seminars are aimed at a broad audience including book-collectors, book-dealers, historians of all kinds, librarians, indeed at anyone with an interest in collecting any sort of text from the sixth-former to the retired professor. The atmosphere is informal, as are the presentations. They are held in the University of London’s Senate House and run from 6.00pm on the second Tuesday of each month. All are very welcome.