Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tom Brown in Parts-First Serialized Version

The two Tom Brown books (Tom Brown's Schooldays and Tom Brown at Oxford) written by Thomas Hughes (1822-1896) were two of the most popular and well read books of the second half of the nineteenth century. Initially both were published in England but their American reprints are ubiquitous. More than 50 publishers reprinted these two titles in numerous formats between the 1860's and 1900. The popularity probably stems from the realistic portrayal of school boy life in England.
The American first editions were published by Ticknor and Fields 1857 (Schooldays) and Ticknor and Fields 1861 (at Oxford)

Some of the reprints are quite commonly found whereas others are next to impossible to locate. Perhaps the most difficult to locate are the books in wraps and the paperback books. Of these, undoubtedly the scarcest is the serialized version of Tom Brown at Oxford that was published monthly in 17 parts by Ticknor and Fields between 1859 and 1861. These parts were the authorized reproduction of parts being published in England by MacMillan.

It would seem that each part should be relatively easy to obtain based on the number published. They are fragile enough for not many to have survived over the years.
Here are the publication number:
Parts I-II 2000 copies each
Parts III, IV, VI-XIII- 1500 copies
Parts V, XIV, XV -1000 copies
Parts XVI, XVII - 750 copies

Harper and Brothers published their pirated copy of this book from the Ticknor parts. Its first volume was published in 1860 and is the first American edition (at least in part) of this book.
The second volume of the book by Harpers was published after an agreement was reached with Ticknor. Ticknor and Fields published the 2 volume set of Tom Brown at Oxford in November 24, 1860 (Volume 1) and July 16, 1861 (Volume 2). Both books however had 1861 on the title page.

Pictured here are two of the 17 parts (Nos. III and VII). Although there are no insert ads like the typical parts seen in Dickens' works, there are ads on the back covers and after the text (in Part III) The booklets are small (7.25 x 4.5). Interestingly part VII ends in mid sentence -just like the Harper and Brothers pirated edition of Volume 1.

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