A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Penguin, and its founder Allen Lane, tend to hoard the headlines when someone writes about pioneering publishers. But it is worth looking at the impact of Leipzig-based publisher Bernhard Tauchnitz and its Collection of British and American Authors.

The Tauchnitz family began printing and publishing in at the end of the 18th century and published traditional literature such as bibles, dictionaries and the classics. Christian Bernhard Freiherr von Tauchnitz (1816-1895) took the company in new direction by reprinting more than 5,000 English language titles. Many were printed in cheap, paperback formats with plain covers. These affordable editions helped pave the way for Penguin and its famous range of paperback reprints that made quality literature accessible to the vast majority.

The paperbacks of the Collection of British and American Authors typically carried a warning on the cover saying the book could not be introduced into the British Empire or the U.S.A. Of course, international travellers ignored it, purchased copies in continental Europe and carried them home to London or New York. Books rarely interest customs officials. Now, these paperbacks can be found in used bookshops all over the globe and remain affordable collector’s items, although Tauchnitz’s more durable and very attractive hardback editions and collections have higher prices.

Tauchnitz printed works by Charles Dickens, Walter Scott, Thomas Carlyle, George Eliot, James Joyce, Sinclair Lewis, Zane Gray, Pearl S Buck, John Galsworthy, Jack London and Ernest Hemingway to name but a handful. During this period, pirating was rife in publishing, but Tauchnitz paid royalties to authors and helped establish early copyright agreements. Tauchnitz merged with the Albatross Modern Continental Library in 1934 and the Nazis closed down the operation during World War II.

Selection of Tauchnitz Editions

The Poetical Works of Robert Browning

The Poetical Works
Robert Browning

Heart and Science by Wilkie Collins

Heart and Science
Wilkie Collins

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens

Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope

Orley Farm
Anthony Trollope

Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope

Framley Parsonage
Anthony Trollope

Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Woman in White
Wilkie Collins

The Last Days of Pompeii by Lord Edward Lytton Bulwer

The Last Days of Pompeii
Lord Edward Lytton Bulwer

The Mother by Pearl S. Buck

The Mother
Pearl S. Buck

Beyond by John Galsworthy

John Galsworthy

Old Court Life in France by Frances Elliot

Old Court Life in France
Frances Elliot

Foreign Parts by Henry James

Foreign Parts
Henry James

Vanity Fair by William Thackeray

Vanity Fair
William Thackeray

A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy

A Pair of Blue Eyes
Thomas Hardy

Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome

Three Men on the Bummel
Jerome K Jerome

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield
Charles Dickens

South Sea Tales by Jack London

South Sea Tales
Jack London

The Son of the Wolf by Jack London

The Son of the Wolf
Jack London

Suspense by Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad

Sketches in Italy by John Addington Symonds

Sketches in Italy
John Addington Symonds

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

Sons and Lovers
D.H. Lawrence

The Man Who Lost Himself by Osbert Sitwell

The Man Who Lost Himself
Osbert Sitwell

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

The Forsyte Saga
John Galsworthy

The Knife by Herbert Adams

The Knife
Herbert Adams

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