University of Virginia Library


J. R. Sutherland's Philadelphia-based distribution strategy would have been an early and daring variation on a theme that some Toronto and Montréal publishers were about to take up with a vengeance. Within a few years of the appearance of Wit and Humor advertisements, American publishers and authors would be facing the rampant unauthorized Canadian publication of their domestically


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copyrighted works. A brief exploration of this development, which involves not only Canadian publishers but London counterparts as well, can help place Wit and Humor in an historical context.

In an article appearing in the New York Sun in 1878 and reprinted in the Publishers' Weekly, George W. Carleton gave an account of the situation in the extremity of its development, which was characterized by the very low prices of mail-order Canadian books.

There is no copyright between England and America. Any one on either side may print the other's books and sell them in his own country... . Occasionally, of late years, where a publisher makes a handsome sum out of a foreign book, he recognizes the author's right so far as to pay him something. That is optional, but is considered the fair thing to do. But now these Canada devils go to work and take our American books and reprint them for one tenth of our prices, and sell them not only in Canada, which they have a right to do, but in our own country, to our own customers. Within a day or two they have taken to advertising in New York newspapers that they will send these reprints here to American citizens for 15 or 20 cents each; reprints of books that are sold here at $1.50 by the publishers who pay for copyrights upon them. It is a gross outrage. We can stop a bookseller here from vending these things, but it seems that we cannot prevent this Canadian fellow getting money by mail from American citizens and sending them his reprints of our books for it.10

Mark Twain's authorized books were destined for routine copying by Toronto and Montréal publishers, who would apply ingenious and speedy methods of production and sale. The effect the appearance of these copies had on Mark Twain's temper is easy to imagine—his reaction was akin to the exasperation expressed by his one-time nemesis Carleton. From the title-page imprints of some of the surreptitious copies, an appearance is created that several Canadian editions were made of each of Mark Twain's works. Gordon Roper, pioneering scholar of Canadian literature, examined the apparently different copies and discovered that some were distinguished only by their title page imprints (and sometimes advertising pages). The diverse imprints indicated not the volume's publishers, but Toronto and Montréal news vendors, booksellers, and stationers. Further evidence led Roper to the conclusion that apparently various "editions" of some titles were the work of a single publisher—though not always the same company. These companies were usually controlled, Roper further disclosed, by one or more of a handful of publishers, whom he identified as Alexander Belford, George M. Rose, John Ross Robertson, and James B. Cook.11 Given the known profile of J. R. Sutherland, stationer and compiler of gazetteers, Wit and Humor could have followed the pattern that Roper discovered, with the distributor's


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name appearing in the advertisements and presumably on the title page, partly or wholly shielding from view the name of the publisher.

Wit and Humor appeared at the dawn of an era in which American literary works were freely appropriated by Canadian publishers. American authors and publishers would struggle with the problem until 1891, when the United States finally enacted an international copyright law. At that time British and Canadian authors could at last be offered protections in America analogous to those which their American counterparts sought in the British dominions. Until then, however, the legal status of an author's work in the English-speaking world would remain insecure, and mercantile avenues for unauthorized publications remained open. By mid-century, American publishers had already made a tradition of the free appropriation of the literature of Britain; as America's literature matured, British publishers in their turn began to take notice. Some American authors were able to secure contracts with a British publisher, as did Irving, Cooper, and Melville with John Murray (father and son), but these agreements were supported not by the law but by the good word of the publisher and the respect he commanded from competitors. Neither Webb nor Mark Twain made such an arrangement for The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and this book proved especially vulnerable. The authorized edition appeared a scant eight weeks after the death in Southampton of Charles Farrar Browne, known as Artemus Ward (b. 1834), the young comedian mourned by a British public whose enthusiasm for American vernacular speech and humor he had done much to excite. The commercial possibilities of a book by Artemus's friend Mark Twain were not lost on George Routledge, who made three editions of Jumping Frog between 1867 and 1872, nor on Routledge's shiftier rival John Camden Hotten, who added an edition of his own in 1870. Tens of thousands of copies of the four pirated editions were sold in the British isles in a few years' time—well over ten times the sales of the American edition.12

Though he received nothing from the Routledge and Hotten editions, Mark Twain acknowledged some years later that they contributed to his future success. At a time when he was scarcely known in the States, that is, they made him a popular author in England. He later recalled that the success of the Jumping Frog piracies led to a competitive "scramble"—presumably by the two rival houses—to secure his approval for authorized British editions of future books.13 Artemus


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Ward, helped by his English lecture manager, Edward P. Hingston, made an agreement for authorized publication with Hotten in 1864 and seems to have been well served by him. Bret Harte's publisher, Carleton, had a ready-made arrangement with Sampson Low and Son in London, and so authorized publication of Harte's Condensed Novels was coordinated on both sides of the Atlantic (a move that did little to prevent unauthorized appropriation of this work and others by Harte). Later, as the American editions of Harte's works were handled by Fields, Osgood, then Osgood alone, and finally Houghton Mifflin, arrangements were made with Routledge and then Hotten's successor, Chatto and Windus, among others. Mark Twain too would prefer first Routledge and then Chatto and Windus after Hotten died in 1873. In an 1889 interview Andrew Chatto made it clear why the Americans were ill-disposed to Hotten but not to his successor.

I was the assistant of J. C. Hotten, whose business I and Windus purchased from his widow for £25,000, and we are really the successors of Hotten, though we do not adhere to the policy of our predecessor. For instance, he believed that the best way to force on an international copyright with America was to plunder American authors. We do not. An American author can secure a copyright in England by publishing here first. By that means Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and others enjoy all the privileges of this market as well as their own. We have paid Mark Twain over £5,000 for royalties on his books.14

American authors (and, intermittently, some publishers) long favored their nation's participation in an international agreement; decade after decade they advocated for this cause, but Washington did not alter its policy. The Round Table was particularly active in the cause. A thoughtful contribution to the discussion appeared in the issue of 16 December 1865; it was signed "C. L.," initials probably belonging to Charles Godfrey Leland, an author whose experience with piracy would be bracing. Leland was the creator of the popular "Hans Breitmann" ballads beginning in 1856. In 1868 he began to gather them in collections; his authorized American publisher was T. B. Peterson and Brothers and he consigned European rights to his friend Nicolas Trübner. The works were briskly pirated nonetheless in Canada, Australia, and also in England (by Hotten). While his own losses to unauthorized publication were still a few years in the future, Leland was able nonetheless to call attention to an essential fact about international copyright. Influence in Washington on the copyright question rested with "less than half a dozen publishers, who have acquired wealth by reprinting foreign books"; the influence of this group (which at times included the Harpers) was undiminished by the protests of America's greatest authors, including Washington Irving, who, C. L. reveals, had recently visited the capital and


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there witnessed "the intrigues of certain northern publishers against the rights of the very men they pretend to assist. ..."15

The freedom from copyright restrictions asserted by American publishers in reprinting British books was one cause of the insecurity of authors' rights; another was Britain's policy of outlawing colonial publishing enterprises in its North American provinces. In mid-nineteenth-century America, the wants of the reading public were mainly satisfied with cheap unauthorized editions of British works. The popularity in America of the novels of Walter Scott and Charles Dickens was fostered and sustained to enormous proportions by these editions, a problem that Dickens publicly complained of early in his career, on his first visit to the New World. Because most American companies paid foreign authors little or nothing, their editions could be offered at prices that British publishers could not match. Anglophone Canadian readers were caught in a legal and economic vise, and starved for affordable books, especially in the years before and immediately after confederation (1867). Their booksellers were permitted to offer only the expensive English editions, which were made more expensive by high shipping costs. The importation of American reprints was prohibited and for a time Imperial agents vigilantly inspected bookseller-bound packages, destroying all contraband copies they found. Imperial law reserved the publishing business for the home country and forced on the colonies the status of a captive market. An astute observer reported that the scarcity of books in Canada inspired extraordinary remedial projects, including John Murray's 1840s series, the Home and Colonial Library.16 He added, however, that this set "contained none of the new and fresh books which the colonists wanted."

The observer was Samuel Edward Dawson (1833–1916), a Montréal publisher favored by American authors and well informed on the subject of copyright in the English-speaking world. The occasion for his observations was an 1882 lecture, published as Copyright in Books. It relates the history of copyright in England, America, and Canada as it operated through the nineteenth century, in the complex interactions of authors, publishers, and governments as they pursued their often competing interests. Dawson discusses the practical implications of the laws of the three governments during the decades of the 1860s and 1870s, and explains why American authors eventually found it almost impossible to prevent unauthorized publication of their works in Canada. By the Imperial Copyright Act of 1842, Imperial copyright was granted only to works that were published first within the British Isles—as opposed to British dominions, including the provinces that became Canada. A question lingered for some time as to whether authors needed also to be resident in Great Britain while their books were in press; a series of legal decisions, culminating in the final appeal in the case


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of Sampson Low against Routledge (Routledge v. Low, 1868), endorsed the view that authors could secure Imperial copyright by residing "anywhere in the British dominions" while their works were in press in London.17 That is, a visit only to the nearest colony was needed: American authors could stay in Canada while their books were being published in London. As one result of this decision, Dawson entertained a stream of visits to his Montréal home by prominent authors from the United States seeking to fulfill the stipulation; they included Oliver Wendell Holmes and eventually Mark Twain. Holmes made his visit in 1867 for his book The Guardian Angel, and the copyright he thereupon secured was defended successfully in London in 1868.18

Wit and Humor was a portentous piracy: in appropriating the works of Mark Twain and Bret Harte even before the two authors had secured a national readership in their home country, the surreptitious volume set a precedent for the prodigious appropriations of the coming years. As Mark Twain's and Bret Harte's stars rose in the States, dozens of unauthorized editions of their works were produced in Canada. The copying began in earnest in 1870, with a ten-cent edition of Jumping Frog bearing the imprint of A. S. Irving, a Toronto news agent. It was a reprint of the Routledge edition of 1870; Gordon Roper has shown that the presswork for this volume was performed by the Daily Telegraph Printing House of Toronto, a company owned by John Ross Robertson and James B. Cook. The same year The Innocents Abroad also appeared with Irving's title-page imprint—as well as with the imprints of at least three other companies, including Dawson Brothers; Roper revealed that these were separate issues, all deriving from the same typesetting performed by the same printer responsible for the Irving Jumping Frog. As has already been mentioned, the Daily Telegraph Printing House is indirectly connected to J. R. Sutherland: Sutherland's partner, Henry N. McEvoy, is listed as working for this Robertson and Cook-owned company in 1869. The connection suggests (for now, no more than suggests) a possibility that Wit and Humor too was the work of this printing house.

Like Mark Twain, Bret Harte encountered vigorous appropriation of his works in North America and England. Condensed Novels was brazenly pirated in New York in 1867; its next unauthorized publication was in 1871, a prodigious year for Harte piracies. Hotten led the way with four Harte volumes: Sensation Novels, Condensed; That Heathen Chinee and Other Poems; East and West (a copy of Osgood's authorized East and West Poems); and Lothaw ... by Mr. Benjamins," a parody of Disraeli's novel Lothair that Harte made for the authorized Osgood edition of Condensed Novels. In Canada that year, the Canadian News and Publishing Company issued two volumes, Condensed Novels and Poems, while A. S. Irving brought out The Luck of Roaring Camp. The following year came more of the same,


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with Ward, Lock and Tyler in London contesting Hotten for the role as the most prolific source of unauthorized Harte editions.19

Mark Twain visited Montréal in 1881, determined to put a stop to the busy Canadian presses, which had without his agreement reproduced all his books and even compiled unique anthologies of his writings. He made an especially vigorous effort to secure both Imperial and Canadian copyright for a new book, The Prince and the Pauper. Dawson, the publisher of the authorized Canadian edition of this work, explained that Mark Twain achieved his first object but failed in achieving the second, because of a change in Canadian law since the time when Holmes won his case. The Canadian Act of 1875 was carefully designed to support Canadian publishing and authorship and granted local copyright only to authors domiciled (as opposed to "residing") in Canada. Dawson's authorized Canadian edition did preclude other Canadian publishers from printing the work within Canada, but not from employing a printer across the border and importing the result (subject to payment of a duty of 12–1/2 percent). This gap in the intersecting laws was soon exploited. As with earlier works such as Tom Sawyer and A Tramp Abroad, and Harte's Gabriel Conway, a pirated edition of The Prince and the Pauper was issued in Toronto within weeks of the appearance of the first American edition. On the title page was the imprint of the Rose-Belford Publishing Company, a particularly active combination of two of the publishers identified by Gordon Roper; not to be denied, a third publisher, John Ross Robertson, soon followed with a fugitive edition of his own.20 Certain of Robertson's publications from the early 1880s well illustrate Mark Twain's failure to secure Canadian copyright: the publisher brought out many editions of the works of Bret Harte and Mark Twain during this time, some of which he included in "Robertson's Cheap Series," at prices of thirty cents or less. These editions and others like them remained legally incontestable. In 1866 the Sutherland company (or Robertson and Cook's printing house) could not have been constrained from printing Wit and Humor in Canada, but sales in the United States might have been stopped by an injured copyright holder. No record of any action pertaining to the book has been discovered, however.


Sutherland and McEvoy may have met in Indianapolis in 1858: while Sutherland was there compiling the Indiana state directory, McEvoy was publishing the city directory (see Indiana State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1858 and 1859, James Sutherland, comp. and mgr. [Indianapolis: George W. Hawes, 1858], pp. [iii], 155). Examples of the many directories produced jointly by Sutherland and McEvoy (which also indicate a ten-year collaboration) are The Missouri State Gazetteer and Business Directory (St. Louis: Sutherland and McEvoy, 1860) and Sutherland's Counties of Kent and Essex Gazetteer and General Business Directory, H. N. McEvoy, comp. (Hamilton [Ont.]: J. Sutherland [1870]). For the evidence of Henry N. McEvoy's connection with Robertson and Cook and the Daily Telegraph Printing House, see The Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory, H. McEvoy, ed. and comp. (Toronto: Robertson and Cook, 1869), title page [i], p. [ii], and the two pages of advertisements between pp. 488 and 489; also in this directory, J. Sutherland is listed as a book dealer and stationer in Brantford (p. 71). At the turn of the twentieth century, the stationer and book publishing firm of J. and J. Sutherland, located in Brantford, Ontario (Brant County), was listed as having been founded in 1854: see The International Directory of Booksellers and Bibliophile's Manual, ed.James Clegg (Rochdale [et al.]: James Cle[g]g, Aldine Press [et al.], 1899), pp. ii, 198; see also George P. Rowell & Co.'s American Newspaper Directory, ed. George P. Rowell (New York: George P. Rowell and Co., 1870), p. 761.


"The Canadian Invasion," Publishers' Weekly 14 (7 December 1878): 780–781, reprinting the New York Sun of 22 November.


Gordon Roper, "Mark Twain and His Canadian Publishers, American Book Collector 10 (June 1960): 13–29, see especially pp. 14–16; Roper presented the results of further research in "Mark Twain and His Canadian Publishers: A Second Look," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada 5 (1966): 30–89.


Two of the Routledge editions, "JF4a" (1870) and "JF4b" (1872), as Robert H. Hirst has designated them, are closely related: JF4b is a reprint from the plates of JF4a with added material. Mark Twain had some foreknowledge of JF4a–b, and is said to have authorized publication, though he was not paid. Hirst discovered that 24,000 copies of the Routledge Jumping Frog were printed by July 1873, and by the same time, nearly 19,000 copies of Hotten's edition (JF3) had sold. (Early Tales & Sketches, Volume 1: 1851–1864, ed. Edgar Marquess Branch and Robert H. Hirst, The Works of Mark Twain [Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1979], pp. 546–555). It is interesting that Hirst also found that Routledge had initially printed 6,000 copies of his earliest Jumping Frog (JF2); according to the learned editors of the Melville edition, "6000 copies was Routledge's usual print run for fiction reprints" (Israel Potter, op. cit., p. 221).


An entry in Mark Twain's Notebook 27, which Robert H. Hirst dated January 1888, reads: "It may be a good thing sometimes for an author to have one book pirated & a scramble made—I think it true. Look at my first book" (Mark Twain's Notebooks & Journals, Volume III [1883 –1891], ed. Frederick Anderson et al., The Mark Twain Papers [Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1979], p. 364; see also Early Tales & Sketches, Volume 1, ibid., p. 549).


Joseph Hatton, "Pippins and Cheese; An After-Dinner Chat," Pick-Me-Up 2 (31 August 1889): 338 (repr. in Hatton's Cigarette Papers for After-Dinner Smoking, London: Hutchinson and Co., 1892, pp. 109-110).


[Charles Godfrey Leland], "The Laws of Copyright," Round Table new series i (16 December 1865): 233; see also, Leland, Memoirs (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1893), pp. 335–336; for the Harpers, see Exman, op. cit., ch. 5.


The Murray catalogue for February 1851, including a full inventory of the Home and Colonial Library, is printed as an advertisement in Charles Babbage, The Exposition of 1851, 2nd ed. (London: John Murray, 1851).


Dawson, Copyright in Books, Montréal: Dawson Brothers, 1882, p. 20. Details in the remainder of this and the following paragraph are supported in Dawson, pp. 20—25; both articles by Gordon Roper (see note ii above); and Walter Arthur Copinger, The Law of Copyright in Works of Literature and Art, London: Stevens and Haynes, 1870, pp. 64–66, 236–237.


"Low v. Ward" (2 July 1868), in The Law Reports: Equity Cases before the Master of the Roles and the Vice-Chancellors, vol. VI, ed. G. W. Hemming, London: Printed for the Council of Law Reporting by William Clowes and Sons, pp. 415–418; "Law," The Bookseller: A Handbook of British and Foreign Literature, 1 August 1868, p. 524.


Roper 1966, op. cit., pp. 32—35. The sequence of Harte piracies is partly revealed in the sale catalogue for the collections of a pioneering Harte scholar: see The Charles Meeker Kozlay Collection of Bret Harte. ... To be sold on Thursday afternoon and evening, March 18,1926 (New York: American Art Association), especially lots 13, 36, 39, 40, 42, 43, 47–49, 53, 54 64–70, 81, 82, 84, 85, 91, 99; Hotten's Sensation Novels, Condensed, was reissued with a new title page as part of "Beeton's Humorous Books," a large series by Ward, Lock and Tyler, a London house that made many unauthorized editions of the works of American authors (see lot 111 in the Kozlay catalogue and Brander Matthews, "American Authors and British Pirates," New Princeton Review 4 [September 1887]: 206).


Mark Twain was undeterred in his pursuit of Canadian copyright, despite the experience of The Prince and the Pauper. In a notebook entry made in January 1888, he recognized the obsolescence of the example of Oliver Wendell Holmes and The Guardian Angel: "always do P P & never go to Canada. Dr Holmes was the last to go to Can to get Eng cop—1867. ‘Guardian Angel'" (Notebooks & Journals, Volume III, op. cit., p. 363). By "P P" previous publication is meant. By this time he had achieved Canadian copyright, with Life on the Mississippi (1883) and Huckleberry Finn (1884–85), through the combined efforts of Dawson, who published these works, and Andrew Chatto, who as a British subject applied for the Canadian copyrights (see Roper 1960, op. cit., pp. 26–27).