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Authors & Publishers 



Held at Willis's Rooms, in March, 1887 : 








Field & Tuer, The Leadenhall Tress^ 6,C. 
Simpkifty ^Marshall & Co ; Hamilton^ Q4dams & Co. 




13 - 5^-6'=:? 2 



The Maintenance of Literary Property - 7 

Chairman — Lord Lytton. 
i Opened by Walter Biiant. 

/ The Profession of Authorship - - - 52 

Chairman — Sir Frederick Pollock, Bart. 
Opened by Edmund Gossb. 

Dramatic Rights and Property - - - 83 

CAatrmofi— Sir Francis O. Adams, K.C.M.G., C.B. 
Opened by John Hollinoshbad. 

Appendix I 127 

Remarks by Andrbw W. Tubr. 

Appendix II - ^35 

Letter by George M. Smith. 

Appendix III 154 

Remarks by Geo. Haven Putnam. 

/ ' ' ' 

/ Appendix IV 173 

/ Summary by Walter Bbsamt. 



Incorporated Society of Authors 

















J. M. LELY. 

Rev. W. J. LOFTIE, F.S.A. 







A. G. ROSS (Hon. Sec.) 

M.A., F.L.S. 



Lincoln's Inn Fields, W.C. 

Honorary Secretary—ALEXAliDER GALT ROSS, B.A. 
Executive Secretary—] MAES STANLEY LITTLE. 




OBju(0 of t^i Socie^. 

I. — To further the establishment of an Interna- 
tional Copyright Union, and to secure the adhesion 
of the American Government thereto. 

2. — To procure the passage of an Act which 
shall amend and consolidate the law of Domestic 

3. — To ascertain and to define the principles 
which should in equity rule the agreements of authors 
with publishers. 

4. — ^To examine publishers' accounts, and if neces- 
sary to procure an audit as to charges of production. 

5. — To examine and advise upon agreements 
before they afe signed. 

6. — ^To draw up for members, free of charge, 
agreements which shall protect their interests as far 
as possible for any form of publishing that may be 

7. — To advise them as to the best houses for 
their MSS ; and as to the best form of publication. 

8. — ^To direct members into the hands of honour- 
able Houses, and to protect them from those which 
live by preying upon authors. 

9. — To advise upon the literary worth, Gfc, of 
MSS of young authors. For the present, until the 
members are increased in numbers, there will be a 
small fee charged. 

10. — To promote and advocate generally the 
interests of authors and of literature. 

The annual subscription for membership is one guinea; 
and life-membership ten guineas. 



I earnestly beg that all readers of these 
papers will not lay down the book, should 
they have read the Report of the Con- 
ferences and the letters appended, without 
reading the summary in which I have an- 
swered every objection that seemed worth 
noting. The question which I asked in 
my paper — viz : WAere there is no rtsk^ 
what share in the proceeds of a book 
should be given to the publisher? — has 
not yet been answered. I beg very careful 
attention to the description given by Mr. 
Edmund Gosse in his valuable paper on 
the French Soci^t^ des Gens de Lettres. 
What that Society is, and has accomplished, 
for French Litterateurs shall be done for 
those of this country by the Incorporated 
Society of Authors. 

W. B. 


Conferences at JVilliss Rooms. 


Lord Lytton. 

Walter Besant. 

The first of these Conferences, held by 
the Society of Authors and their friends, 
on the Maintenance of Literary Property, 
was held on 2nd March, 1887, at Willis's 
Rooms, under the Presidency of The 
Earl of Lytton. The rooms were 

\ crowded with members of the Society 

- and others interested in the subject. 

\ Lord Lytton opened the proceedings. 

My Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen — It is 
my earnest hope that these Conferences 

I. may have one effect at least, namely that 

of drawing greater public attention to the 

I Society of Authors, its aims, its intentions, 

I B 


and its possibilities, and thereby stimulat- 
ing and extending that active interest and 
sympathy with its efforts upon which the 
Society must mainly depend for success. 
With the assured support of the literary 
world I believe it scarcely possible to 
over-estimate the practical results which 
the Society is capable of achieving for 
those who are its members. It is no part 
of the duty devolving upon me to record 
or to explain in detail the operations of 
the Society since its incorporation in 
1884. The special subject we are here 
met to consider is one in which all present, 
as literary men and women, are directly or 
indirectly interested, and that is the main- 
tenance of literary property. Upon this 
subject I hope that we shall receive 
much valuable information and guidance 
from Mr. Walter Besant, whom it will 
be my duty to ask to open the first of the 

I. do not think it can fairly be said that 
literature, so far as it is regarded as a pro- 
fession, is in these days unremunerative. 

It has become very much less precarious, 
very much more certain and solid, in pro- 
portion as its dependence has been trans- 
ferred from the individual patron to the 
general public, which is now the sole patron 
of modern literature. But in literature, as 
in other aflfairs, the public employs two 
classes of persons — those who produce, and 
those who distribute ; and although those 
two classes are united in one common in- 
terest in so far as they both depend upon 
the sale of the same commodity, still their 
functions are essentially different. The 
function of the one is purely intellectual, 
while that of the other is mainly commer- 
cial. Another diflFerence between the two 
classes is that the distribution and publi- 
cation of books is necessarily a business or 
trade, whereas the production of literature 
is not necessarily a business at all. You 
all know that literature owes some of its 
highest and most delightful productions to 
writers who have not been engaged in 
literature as a profession. When the pro- 
ducer has finished his work he finds himself 



confronted with the practical question of 
how to dispose of his produce, how best 
and most profitably to invest the fruits of 
his labour. And here, unhappily, he is. 
in a very exceptional and disadvantageous 
position as regards the middleman or dis-^ 
tributor when compared with other trades 
or professions. For in other trades and pro-^ 
fessions the producer and distributor both 
have experience of the business in which 
they are engaged, and can arrive at an 
understanding without difficulty. But the 
author finds, by repeated experience, that 
if he seeks expert advice, the subject seems 
so full of technical details, so entirely out- 
side the ordinary experience of solicitors, 
that no honest solicitor would venture to 
give him advice respecting the manage- 
ment of his contracts or the making up of 
publishers' accounts. The Society of 
Authors, I think, represents the first 
combined attempt on the part of those 
who are engaged in the production of 
literature to remedy this state of things by 
taking the advice given by Hercules to the 


waggoner, and putting their own shoul- 
ders to the wheel. It aims at carrying 
out functions similar to those exercised 
by the Soci^te des Gens de Lettres in 
France. The Society provides for the 
individual author not only professional 
hut specialist and expert assistance upon 
the management of those matters of busi- 
ness in connection with the middleman or 
•distributor, upon which the author must 
depend for the fruits of his labour, if it has 
any commercial value at all. Even if the 
Society did no more, it would by this 
one function render immense service to 
authors. In point of fact, however, it will 
do much more. The only misgiving which 
I feel is lest the Society may at some 
future time be induced by its success in 
practical directions to undertake functions 
which might be of too delicate a nature to 
be exercised successfully by a corporate 
body. I fear it is as true now as in the 
days of Gil Bias, that authors, while pro- 
verbially eager to solicit the most candid 
advice and opinion about their MSS, are 


not found to be particularly grateful for 
the advice if it should not happen to coin-^ 
cide with their own belief. I am afraid 
that any adviser charged by the Society to 
undertake such delicate duties would find 
it difficult to reconcile his own views with 
those of the persons who consulted him. 
I recollect once seeing an advertise-^ 
ment in a newspaper from a person who 
wanted to borrow one thousand pounds^ 
and who offered as security an epic 
poem, written by himself, which he valued 
at ten thousand pounds. Whether he 
got anyone to lend him the money was 
unknown, but it might be assumed that he 
did not. I am quite sure that there 
were few of them who had not been em- 
barrassed, and even pestered and annoyed, 
by applications from wholly unknown cor-^ 
respondents, calling upon them, as a matter 
of course, to read with great and particular 
care some lengthy MS. written by the 
correspondent, and to promptly commu-^ 
nicate a candid opinion and advice as to 
what should be done with it. Perhaps the 



best, though not the most courteous, reply 
to give was something like that made by a 
gentleman, who, when asked to decide 
upon the relative merits of two sonnets, 
and to give his opinion as to which was 
the best, read the first, and exclaimed 
"The other.'' If the official adviser 
of the Society were to follow that 
example its membership would probably 
very steadily decrease ; but I take it 
that one object is to give authors those 
opinions now given to publishers by their 
readers. On one point I hope that 
there would be no misconception. The 
aim of the Society is in no sense antag- 
onistic to the legitimate interest of the 
publishing and bookselling trades, and, 
that being so, I think we are entitled 
to their sympathy and co-operation, 
especially in regard to the eflforts we 
are making to improve the copyright 
law and to obtain the great desider- 
atum of an international copyright law 
with the United States of America. I 
have heard it contended seriously that 

there ought to be no such thing as copy- 
right in literature, but, however that might 
be, I take it that the aim of the Society 
is not to discuss whether there ought to 
be such copyright, but which are the best 
means of maintaining the rights which 
are allowed to exist. I will now, Ladies 
and Gentlemen, call upon Mr. Walter 
Besant to read the first paper. 

Mr. Walter Besant then read the 
following paper on the Maintenance of 
Literary Property. * 

There are two kinds of Literary Pro- 
perty. There is one, of which an author 
cannot be deprived when he has once 
made it for himself. This is the kind 
symbolized by the Laurel. It is with the 
other kind — the lower and less noble kind 
— that we have this day to deal ; that 
which the author acquires in his capacity 

* There have been many statements made in the 
journals that arguments advanced in the following 
paper have been altered or retracted. It is, there- 
fore, necessary to state that this paper is printed 
exactly as it was read. 


of Producer or Creator of something which 
has a marketable value and is openly 
bought and sold in the same manner as 
the kindly fruits of the earth. This kind 
of Property, the profit of trade in the 
author's production, has grown of late 
years into enormous dimensions. The 
yearly bulk of the book trade in this 
country alone amounts to many millions. 
There are a million pounds' worth of books 
exported every year ; and though we are 
not, unhappily, a book-buying people, the 
trade in books of all kinds, especially 
educational books, is continually and 
rapidly increasing. If we consider, in ad- 
dition, the American book-market, the 
amount represented by the yearly sale and 
purchase of books written in English is 
very large indeed. Now, although a cer- 
tain proportion of the trade consists of 
ancient and dead authors, the great mass 
of it is the production of living men and 
women — people of the present generation; 
it is wholly due to their energy, their in- 
genuity, and their learning. They create 


the books, as much as the silkworm creates 
the cocoon — out of themselves. Without 
their continually renewed eflforts the trade 
would suddenly become extinct, save for 
the work of the dead. The enormous mass 
of material yearly oflfered by those people 
to the reading public is administered, as 
we know, by publishers, who send the book 
to the press, advertise it, distribute it, and 
collect the money. The publishers of 
London alone amount to about 275, of 
whom, however, many may be neglected 
as of small account. Some of them are 
great companies, some are stately houses 
with armies of managers, clerks, and ser- 
vants ; many are small traders with little 
capital. Some are specialists : scientific^ 
medical, educational, and geographical. 
Some publish everything, but have a name 
for certain branches of literature. All are 
alike in one respect, that they live by the 
production and the sale of new books or 
new editions, and that they are continually, 
in the exercise of their calling, looking out 
for more of those men and women who 


have the gift, or the trick, of producing 
material such as the world desires to pur- 
chase mnd possess. 

So far I have merely stated what will 
be acknowledged by all. The publishers 
are the administrators of the great literary 
property created by the authors. As 
administrators, or distributors and collec- 
tors, as agents, in short, the publishers 
have a perfect right to payment for their 
services. Many disagreements between 
author and publisher would never occur if 
this simple rule were borne in mind. Men 
do not work for each other without pay- 
ment. Still more, they do not pay heavy 
rents, embark great capital, keep travellers, 
clerks and accountants simply in order to 
do good to their fellow man. Let us never 
forget this. He who enters a publisher's 
house and entrusts his book to him for 
publication^ will have to pay for the 
services he engages just as much as if he 
had gone to his solicitor and entrusted 
him with the management of his affairs. 

In what follows, therefore, it is not our 


intention to attack publishers who, in some 
form or other, are indispensable to authors. 
It would be most unjust, in consideration 
of the honourable men engaged in this 
work, to attack them. There are many 
in this room who have private and per- 
sonal friends among publishers. I have 
myself, for instance. At the same time it 
would be folly to disguise the truth, which 
is, that the relations between author and 
publisher are at the present moment most 
unsatisfactory. They have always been 
strained ; the increase and development 
of literary trade only makes this strain felt 
more keenly ; there is no other calling at 
which so many epigrams have been hurled 
as the calling of publisher — not even that 
of king, pope, or minister. On the other 
hand, there is no workman so discontented 
with his pay as the author ; there is none 
so jealous and suspicious of his treatment ; 
there is no kind of work which causes so 
much disappointment as literary work. 

The Society of Authors was founded 
partly in the hope of finding some remedy 


for this state of things. Hitherto we have 
confined our efforts to special cases, inter- 
fering for the protection of authors who 
have come to us with a grievance, real or 
imaginary. It is now felt, however, that 
the tinkering of individual cases is but a 
small thing compared with general princi- 
ples. Now, a very remarkable and ex- 
ceptional state of things exists in literature. 
iVb one in this country^ or in any other 
country^ has at any time ever attempted 
to ascertain the true principles^ founded 
on equity and justice^ which should govern 
the relations between author and publisher. 
There are at least a dozen different 
methods proposed by the latter and ac- 
cepted by the former. But among them 
all, there is not one which has been either 
proposed — with the knowledge of figures 
and facts — because it is equitable, or 
attacked because it is contrary to equity. 

Yet this is a subject which most earnestly 
and deeply concerns every one who puts a 
book upon the market. Not the profes- 
sional author only, but every man who 


even once in his life thinks he has a mes- 
sage to deliver to the world. Consider, if 
you please, the case of a man who buys an 
estate or a house. He protects himself, 
and is protected, not only by law, but by 
the assumption, which is universal, and 
therefore gives no offence, that he is deal- 
ing with one who will over-reach him. 
He insists — still giving no offence by so 
doing — upon agreements carefully con- 
sidered and drawn up by lawyers. Yet in 
the case of a book, which may possibly 
prove equal in value to a very great estate, 
he is generally content with the bare word 
of the publisher ; he signs what he is told 
to sign in perfect ignorance of the facts, 
and he does not even ask whether the 
arrangement proposed to him is fair, or 
reasonable, or customary. This careless- 
ness, which, applied to other kinds of 
business, would be considered madness, is 
itself extraordinary enough, but unfortu- 
nately, even if that man was to ask there 
would have been no one to give him an 
answer or anv advice until the foundation 


of this Society, and I am not certain that 
we could give him, even now, so full and 
certain an answer as we would wish. 

Will you, therefore, help us by con- 
sidering a question which is put before 
you now for the first time. It is this : 
^' What proportion of the results from the 
sale of a book should be retained by the 
publisher in payment of his services for 
producing a book in the publishing of 
which there is no risk?^^ 

Observe that we limit the question to 
the production of books in which there is 
no risk. The reason of that limitation is 
this. A great change has come over the 
trade of literature since the days, now 
more than a hundred years ago, when the 
production of every book was a risk. 
There are now a great number of writers 
in every department about whose books 
there is no risk at all. This is so well 
known that few publishers, indeed, ever 
incur any risk whatever. Practically, and 
as a general rule, except in the case of 
educational books, we may take it that 


when a publisher undertakes the whole 
risk of a book, he knows that there are no 
risks. There are, of course, exceptions to 
this general statement, but for our pur- 
poses it is near enough.* Where there is 
risk the author has generally, in the pre- 
sent state of the trade, to undertake the 
whole cost, or a part of it. Why, out of 
the hundreds of novels published every 
year, nearly three-fourths are issued sub- 
ject to the author laying down a sum of 
money beforehand for the expenses. 
Those who understand things can tell, 
merely by looking at the name of the pub- 
lisher and the author, whether the book 
is paid for by the latter or not. And when 
a book by a new hand is brought out at 
the sole risk of the house, it is very certain 
that the opinion expressed by the reader of 
the house was a very high opinion indeed. 

* An obvious exception is where the publisher 
buys a book of the author. He may very easily, 
and often does pay more than the book is worth. 
But there are now very few publishers who buy 
books direct of the author. 


In endeavouring to answer this question, 
we must consider some of the various 
systems of publishing now practised. They 
resolve themselves into four principal 
methods : 

a. That where the publisher buys the 

book right out. 

b. That of half profits. 

c. That of a royalty. 

d. That of publishing by commission. 
I. With regard to the first, nothing can 

be said except that one who sells his book 
will do well first to consult the Society as 
to the price offered. One would, not re- 
commend an author to sell a book out 
completely ; but if he does so, it only 
remains for him to find out if he can get 
better terms elsewhere. This method is 
purely a question of terms. A producer 
brings his wares to market and is offered 
so much for them. It is^for him to take 
or to leave. There will always be plenty 
of writers who cannot wait for the slow 
results of trade, and will prefer to sell their 
books at once for whatever they will fetch. 


11. The system of half profits. 

This is the old-fashioned method, by 
which the publisher relieves the author of 
all risks, and promises him half the profits. 
It sounds well at first, especially to a 
writer who understands nothing of the 
risk and does not realize what he may be 
giving away. And, formerly, when the 
method was first invented, publishing was 
much more uncertain, and there were 
risks with every book. Now, as I have 
already stated, such an offer is not likely 
to be made, unless where there is no risk 
at all. 

The plan has fallen into disfavour owing 
to a custom, which has gradually sprung 
up, of making a secret and underhand 
profit on the cost of production. Thus, in 
addition to the legitimate and stipulated 
half-profits, the cost of production in all 
its branches— printing, paper, binding, and 
advertising — has been boldly set down as 
greater, in some cases very much greater, 
than that actually incurred. It is difficult 
to speak of this practice without using 


hard words. I will, however, merely illus- 
trate the thing by asking one question— 
What would be said in the City if^ when 
two men had agreed on sharing the profits 
of an enterprise^ the one who kept the 
books were to make a secret profit for 
himself by setting down the expenses as 
greater than those actually incurred f It 
is not half the profits that the author gets 
by this arrangement, but a quarter, or 
none at all, or anything that his publisher 
chooses ; because he can charge exactly 
what he pleases. Observe that I make 
no objection in limine to the publisher 
making a profit on the cost of production. 
That seems defensible when previously 
stipulated and understood, and even, especi- 
ally in the case of books with a small sale, 
most reasonable. I only say that to do 
this secretly, and without previous agree- 
ment with the author, is a thing which no 
firm which respects its good name can for 
one moment attempt to justify. The pub- 
lisher, remember again, issues his books 
for profit ; he lives by his business ; he 



must make money, some money, on every 
book he issues. Where the sale will be 
small, he is perfectly justified, I think, in 
stipulating for a charge of something, 
whether it be a percentage on the cost of 
production or a retaining-fee, so that he 
shall not have to give his time and labour 
for nothing. Some houses have, in fact, 
adopted the practice of inserting a clause 
to this eflFect in their agreements. But for a 
publisher in a secret and underhand man- 
ner to overcharge every item of expense 
incurred, and then blandly to assure his 
client that he is receiving half the profits 
— what defence can be set up for this 
practice ? how can it be justified ? 

I cannot tell if any justification would 
be even attempted, but I can tell you how 
the practice has become possible. // is 
becaiisCy in rendering their accounts^ pub- 
lishers have never submitted vouchers of 
the items charged^ nor have authors de- 
manded a scrutiny of the books. 

In every other business arrangement 
between man and man, the examination, 


scrutiny, and auditing of accounts is a 
necessary part of the business. I do not 
in the least understand how publishers 
have come to consider themselves so 
much above the ordinary level of man- 
kind that their word alone should be 
taken as proof of the accuracy of their 
accounts. To fall back upon our previous 
illustration, what would be said in the 
City, when two men went shares in an 
enterprise, should the one who did the 
active part refuse to let his accounts be 
examined ? 

Consider, again, what a terrible temp- 
tation this secrecy offers to the dishonest 
and to the impecunious. Put yourself in 
the place of some poor, struggling pub- 
lisher with whom perhaps times are bad. 
He has a paper-making bill to meet ; he 
has his clerks to pay ; his printers are 
dunning him ; his binder waits to see him ; 
his household expenses are going on. He 
is making out an account for an author. 
No one will find him out if he sets down 
the expenses of the book at half as much 


again, or twice as much again, as they 
actually were. No one will find him out — 
that is a very dreadful temptation to a poor 
man. In every other calling there is always, 
danger of being found out in a fraud. In 
this calling a fraudulent person will never 
be found out. The worst that can happen 
to him is that some time or other his state-- 
ment of accounts may fall into the hands 
of the Society of Authors, who, will in 
future dissuade their members from going 
to him. But he need not fear the man in 
blue : no one will ever find him out. I 
think that this absolute immunity from 
the fear of punishment and disgrace ought 
no longer to be suflFered : it is too great a 
temptation-rit expects too much of our 
fallen nature. You see, our publisher 
hesitates; it is not to consider whether 
he will resist the temptation to enact the 
part of the unjust steward : he has long 
since gracefully yielded to the temptation : 
he is considering if he can go so far as to 
charge fifty per cent, on the cost of pro- 
duction. A dash of the pen, and it is 


done; and what would ihey call that man 
in the City f 

It may be urged that the competition 
of publishers and the combination of 
authors among themselves prevent the 
abuse of this immunity from punishment. 
Competition does not touch the abuse^ 
because all alike demand this immunity. 
And authors have only just begun to con- 
verse with each other with understanding, 
only in fact, since the Society of Authors 
was established. 

But, that I may not be accused of ex- 
travagance, I will tell one anecdote. A 
young writer had a MS. which he was 
anxious to publish ; no doubt a MS. of 
small marketable value, but he wished to 
publish it. He went to a publisher and 
offered it. He was presently told that the 
house would not take the risk, but that 
they would publish it for him if he would 
do so ; that it would cost him £i 20, which 
he was to lay down in advance, besides 
the advertisements, which were to come 
out of the sale of the book ; and that the 


house would take for their trouble fifteen 
per cent, commission on all sales. 

Fortunately, before signing the agree- 
ment and paying the money, he took 
advice, and was recommended to get a 
separate estimate from a printer. The 
cost of production by that estimate was 
j^65. You will observe how the method 
of secrecy enabled the publisher to put 
nealy a hundred per cent, on the actual 
cost of production, besides fifteen per cent, 
on the sales. What success would make 
a book so loaded at the. outset remunera- 
tive to the author ? 

I think, therefore, that we have gone so 
far as to be enabled to lay down two clear 
and well-established rules founded on 
common justice and honesty. First, that 
without previous agreement with the au- 
thor^ there shall he no charge on the cost of 
production. That is to say, there shall be no 
secret profit. Next, that all accounts shall 
be open to inspection^ receipts exhibited^ 
number of books counted^ in the manner 
common in all other kinds of business. 


III. So great, and so widely spread, has 
been the disgust caused by these and other 
practices, that publishers have been driven 
to invent new methods in the hope of 
allaying the profound suspicion and irrita- 
tion that had grown up. Many of these 
new methods exist, but they are all forms 
of one principle — namely, that of the 

I had prepared a small array of figures, 
showing you the actual cost of production 
and the comparative results of the royalty 
to author and publisher ; but I refrain 
from troubling you with these. I may, 
however, mention that the Society pos- 
sesses full and exact information on the 
whole question of cost of production of 
books in every shape. It will now be 
sufiicient for my purpose, and simpler for 
you to understand, if I give you a single 

Everybody, at first, was taken with the 
idea of the royalty system. It is a system 
by which the author felt that he was 
bound to get something, however little. 


He would not feel that his work had been 
quite thrown away. He was incapable of 
understanding what the proffered royalty 
really meant, because he knew nothing 
whatever about the cost of production. 
All that he was sure of was that he should 
get something. 

Now for my single illustration. 

It is that of one of the volumes which 
are sold for six shillings apiece. I mean 
such a volume as contains about the 
amount of matter of a single-volume 
novel. This book, if it is a really succes- 
ful book, costs to produce, binding and 
all, about i^. 6</. — it is really less, but we 
will leave a little margin. The publisher 
gets 45. a copy — it is really less, but we 
leave a margin. If he gives his author 
a tenth royalty, which is the common I 

practice in America and is not uncommon f 

here, the writer gets about yd. a copy, he 1 

has for himself nearly 2s. profit on every j 

copy. If he gives his author twenty per ' 

cent., which is considered fabulous gener- 
osity, he pays i^. 6d, for the production, 


i^. 2d. to his author, and keeps i^. 4^. for 
himself. Suppose that io,cx50 Copies are 
sold. The publisher, on the ten per cent* 
royalty, makes a profit of ;^i,ooo to the 
author's ;^300 ; and on the twenty per 
cent, plan the publisher makes a profit of 
;^666, and the author j^6oo. It would 
almost seem as if we were better oflf under 
the old-fashioned half-profits system.* 

The system adopted in France, where 
the recognition of literary property, as well 

• Nearly all the letters which were written to the 
papers on the subject of my address attacked this 
, statement, or misunderstood it. T, therefore, wrote 
to one or two papers and gave more exact figures. 
I said that a really successful book of the length 
described, viz., one-third the length of a three volume 
novel, can be produced for i^. \d. or i;y. id, a copy, 
and that it is sold for 3^. 7 J^. If this sum be worked 
out it will come very nearly to my proportion as 
stated above. Of course I took an extreme case. 
There are few books indeed which are so successful, 
and there are some houses which would sell a six 
shilling book at half the advertised price or three 
shillings. But in drawing up an agreement an 
author will do well always to consider the extreme 
case as possible, and to act as if his book was going 
to be as successful as any book of the day. 


as of authors, has always been much 
more just and generous than here, is, I 
believe, the following : With the three- 
franc books, of which they publish so many 
in Paris, a well-known and successful 
author receives a royalty of one franc ;* so 
that two francs are left for the cost of 
production in the first place, and that of 
advertising and publishers' agency in the 
second. This is equivalent to a royalty of 
one-third, or thirty-three per cent. 

Going back to my illustration of a six- 
shilling book, I find that, under this ar- 
rangement, supposing the sale to be 10,000 
copies, the author would get ;^i,ooo, and 
the publisher ;^i,ooo, out of which he 
would have to pay about ;^700 for produc- 
tion. You will observe that the position 
of the author is three times as good in 
France as it is here under a ten per cent, 

• This statement, I have since discovered, must be 
modified. A successful author receives one franc 
royalty on a book nominally priced at 3.50 francs. 
This, however, begins after the first 5,000 are sold. 
For the first S,ooo he receives a royalty of about J^d. 


But there is more. The French law 
further protects the author. It forbids the 
printer to print any copies at all, except 
by order of the author. Without a bon H 
titer signed by the author the printer may 
not print a single copy. If he print a 
single copy above what is ordered by the 
author, he is liable to be brought before 
the Police Correctionnelle.* 

IV. Lastly, there is the method of pub- 
lication on commission, by which the pub- 
lisher professes simply to charge a certain 
percentage, generally fifteen per cent., on 
all sales. As, however, it is too often the 
case that he makes use of the secrecy and 
immunity of his accounts to make, in ad- 
dition, a handsome profit on the cost of 
production, the same objections may be 
made to this method as to that of the half- 
profit system* Fairly and honestly carried 
out, there can be no better arrangement. 
Unfortunately, however (another proof of 
the jealousy and bad feeling in the air) there 

• See Mr. Gosse^s paper for further particulars on 
the Soci^t^ des Gens de Lettres. 


is prevalent the suspicion that not only 

does the publisher make a profit on the 

cost of production, but also that he does < 

not push a commission book so vigorously 

as those which are his own by right of 

purchase, or which he publishes on more 

advantageous terms. 

There is no remedy for this except } 

watchfulness on the part of the Society, 
and the knowledge that such treatment of 
authors may possibly be followed by a f 

decrease of business. \ 

You have now considered briefly the I 

four different methods of publication, and ! 

are in a better position to consider the 
question proposed to you. I repeat it : 
" What share out of the proceeds of a book 
should he retained by the publisher in 
return for his services in producing a book 
in which there is no risk f ^' 

Let us hear his own statement of the 

He says : "I have a large house of 
business in a convenient place, for which 
I pay a heavy rent. I have travellers 


who go about town and country among 
the trade, constantly engaged in pushing 
the books which I produce. I have a 
great many accountants, clerks, and ser- 
vants in my pay. I have highly paid 
readers whose literary judgment is practi- 
cally at the service of every applicant, 
because I am always on the look out for 
new and good material. I have a large 
capital, either originally embarked in the 
business or gradually accumulated by my 
own thrift, energy, prudence, and fore- 
thought. I have a large experience in the 
publishing of books, and an intimate ac- 
quaintance with the book-market and its 
fluctuations. My name is widely known 
in tke trade. I am skilled in the adjust- 
ment of prices^, and in their modification 
to suit the exigences of the time. I know 
how and where best to advertise. AU 
these advantages I place unreservedly at 
the service of the authors who come to me. 
If their books succeed, half their success 
is due to me. And for mv share I claim 
a very considerable part of the profits.'' 


That, I believe, is the publisher's case, 
as he would put it. It cannot be denied 
that there is a great deal of truth in it. 
The doubtful point is — whether the suc- 
cess of a book is due to the publisher or 
not ;* and, if so, how far ? A bookseller, 
for instance, may advance a book very- 
much by keeping it prominently exhibited 
on the counter. But all the publishers' 
travellers together are always urging him 
to do this, and he cannot listen to all. A 
book is advanced first by favourable criti- 
cism ; but, thank Heaven ! no one yet has 
accused our critics or our literary journals 
of being in 4;he pay of publishers. Critics 
have been accused of log-rolling for their 
friends, but not, so far, for the pub- 
lishers. The next thing-and this is by 
far the most important— is that people, 
when they get together, begin to talk of a 
certain book. When all the world begins 
to talk at once of a new book, all the pub- 

* See Mr. Geo. Smith's letter in which, among 
much that I cannot allow, the case of the publisher . » 

is put much better than I could do it. ] 


lishers together could neither stop it if 
they wished, nor could they make it go 
any faster if they tried. The pushing by 
booksellers is the least important method 
and the least to be relied upon, because 
they know their own interests too well to 
force books into unwilling hands. 

It remains, however, certain that in 
good hands a book has a much better 
chance than in bad hands.* It is also 
certain that publishers must be paid for 
their services. Let us repeat this and 
never forget it. 

What then should they get ? 

I am inclined, subject to another and 
alternate plan, to propose the following, 
which I by no means advance as final : 

* Authors sometimes seem to think that publishers 
are all alike. This is a great mistake. Even a 
good book may have its chances destroyed by being 
in the hands of a firm of doubtful credit, while 
there are one or two so-called publishing companies 
or firms, the very imprint of which is enough to 
condemn a book. The Society knows most of the 
doubtful and dishonest houses and their tricks, and 
can keep its members out of their clutches. 

40 s 

I think that authors would be ready for 
the present to adopt the French system 
with certain modifications. That is to say, 
those who have books to produce in which 
there is no risky would be willing to give 
them to the publishers on the following 

1 . They would receive a royalty of one- 
third the published price. 

2. By the published price would mean 
not the price advertised, but that actually 
paid by the public. Thus, a 6^.. book now 
means, by an absurd and foolish system of 
discount by which authors, publishers, and 
booksellers all alike suffer, no more than 
45. 6d. By our system, therefore, the 
author would receive i^. 6d. on every 
copy sold. 

3. But, in order to ensure that the pub- 
lisher shall be paid for his labour, a fee, the 
amount to be agreed upon, should first be 
charged on the book, to come out of the 
publisher's profits beyond the actual cost 
of productiou. This amount, I think, 
should in no case exceed the sum of ;^50. 


Of course, small houses would not be able to 
command so large a fee as the large firms.* 

4. The cost of production should be 
that actually entailed, without any over- 
charge of any kind, and should be sub- 
mitted beforehand for consideration. There 
must he no secret profits of any kind. 

5. The books concerning the production 
and the sale of the work should be open 
to the author, and every account rendered 
should be duly audited and the vouchers 

6. Before parting with his MS. the 
author would have an agreement properly 
drawn up, containing clauses binding the 
publisher against secret profits of every 
kind, and others enabling him to retain 
control over his property, and in case of dis- 
agreement, to remove it into other hands. 

These conditions seem to me to be the 
outcome of the knowledge acquired by 

* The first charge would work in this way. On a 
6^. book the author's royalty of is, dd. would not 
be given him until 666 copies had been sold, so that 
the publisher should take £s^' I ^^^ speaking 
always of a book in which there is no risk. 



the Society during its two years of active 
work. I will not fatigue you by the details 
of practices which we have detected 
among the less honourable members of 
the publishing trade. You all know, as I 
said at the outset, that the condition of 
things is most unsatisfactory. We are 
ready with a plan more advantageous to the 
publisher than the French method, which 
yet appears to us roughly to meet the 
justice of the case. We do not expect 
this plan to be immediately adopted. But 
it may commend itself gradually. Mean- 
time the immediate reform, in which we are 
confident that we shall meet with the cor- 
dial support of all honourable publishers, 
as well as of all men engaged in business 
transactions of every kind, is — no more 
secret profits^ and the auditing of accounts. 
One more illustration. Take our old 
friend, the successful 6^. book, with its 
sale of 10,000 copies. The 6^. means, 
for the public, 45. 6^. The author would 
get i^. (id. a copy. On a sale of 10,000 he 
would make a profit of ;^750, while the 


publisher's profit would be the same. I 
must say that £7SO seems ample payment 
for the work of distribution and collection. 

Having said all I have to say on these dry 
details, may I conclude, after the fashion 
of the ancients, with a dream ? It is a 
beautiful dream — a dream of the future ; 
but not of the far distant future — after my 
time, but in the time of my children per- 
haps, and my grandchildren certainly. 

In this dream, the world is half filled 
with the great English-speaking race. 
There are two hundred millions in North 
America, fifty millions in these islands, a 
hundred millions in Australia, thirty mil- 
lions in New Zealand, and thirty millions in 
other islands and other countries. There 
are more than four hundred millions of 
English-speaking people in the world. 
They are all educated more or less ; they 
all read, not only the daily journals, but 
books ; they have read the great works of 
their forefathers as boys and girls ; they 
look continually for new books written 
for themselves by their own generation. 


There is a great army of men and women 
constantly engaged in writing these books. 
These men and women belong to a great 
society called the Society of Authors, 
which has branches all over the habitable 
globe ; each branch a centre of light and 
leading, so that not a town or a village all 
over Great Britain, America and Australia,, 
but has its local secretary, and is in cor- 
respondence with the central office. I 
have not yet learned in my dream whether 
the central office is to be in Chicago or in 

This Society is, in my dream, the greatest 
publishing company ever known. It pub- 
lishes all the books of its members — ^that 
is to say, all the new books of all the 
authors. It publishes them on one prin- 
ciple — that is to say, the authors take all 
the risk, if any ; but they are well assured 
beforehand that no good book, on any 
subject whatever, incurs any risk. The 
Society has its own journals and maga- 
zines ; it is, like a publisher of the present 
day, constantly devising new books to meet 




the demand of the day, and all the pro- 
ceeds, except a small percentage for 
management, go to the authors — not, if 
you please, a royalty of ten per cent., as is 
now oflfered, or a royalty of twenty per 
cent., which is now considered extrava- 
gant ; nor a royalty of thirty-three per 
cent., which is the rule of the French — 
but all the proceeds, less the cost of pro- 
duction and of management. 

Think what that would be, even now, 
for a successful author ! Think what it 
will be in the future, when international 
copyright has been granted by the only 
nation in the world which now refuses it ! 


' Think what it will be when these millions 

upon millions of the English-speaking race 
are all educated, all reading, all continually 
demanding new literature of every kind I 
In those happy days, with such a Society at 
work, to be a successful author will mean 
being a member of a profession whose 
prizes are beyond the hopes of merchant 
or of speculator. No owner of a silver 
mine was ever half so rich, no minister of 


State was ever half so powerful, as will be 
the man who then becomes the favourite 
of the world — no fairy gift in the whole 
history of benevolent fairies will come 
anywhere near the gift of writing so as to 
delight the world. Well, you can begin 
to make that vision become true. You 
can make the English Society of Authors, 
whose strength lies at present chiefly in 
the justice and the certain ultimate success 
of their cause, such a great guild of litera- 
ture — the most powerful city company 
ever known, because it will be a company 
having a home in every city. You can 
make, I say, this dream a reality by the 
simple process of enrolling yourselves 
among its members. 

Sir Francis Adams said : My Lord, 
Ladies, and Gentlemen — Having acted 
as British delegate at the International 
Copyright Conferences at Berne, I have 
been requested to say a few words with 
regard to what took place at those Con- 
ferences, which were held three years in 


You are probably aware that the Inter- 
national Literary Association met at Berne 
in 1883, and laid the foundation. It is only 
due to the Swiss Government to say that 
they rendered valuable assistance to the 
Association. They accepted the appeal 
addressed to them to submit the draft 
Convention drawn up at the meetings to 
the different Governments of Europe and 
America, and to invite them to send re- 
presentatives to a diplomatic conference 
at Berne. 

A Conference accordingly did take 
place in 1884, and I was appointed, as Her 
Majesty^s Minister at Berne, to attend ; 
but unfortunately I was not empowered 
either to speak or to vote. 

When I came to England sonie months 
later, I received an invitation from the 
Council of our Society to meet its mem- 
bers, and I impressed upon them the 
great importance for the representative of 
Great Britain, as one of the first literary 
countries in the world, to be allowed, in 
any future Conference, to take part in 


such deliberations and vote. I found 
the Council very anxious about the 
matter, and ready to do their best to 
forward my views. I then made it my 
duty to go to the Foreign Office and to 
the Board of Trade, and I learnt that the 
general opinion was that it was absolutely 
necessary to the position of Great Britain 
that we should be thoroughly repre- 
sented. The end of it was, I am 
happy to say, that my colleague, Mn 
Bergne, of the Foreign Office, and I, 
obtained leave to speak and to vote, and 
thus in 1885 Great Britain took her proper 
place at the second Conference. 

As you may imagine, we had some very 
hard work. The Germans, who were very 
well up in every point, wanted to proceed at 
express speed ; the French followed the 
same course, though they were not inclined 
to go quite so fast ; so we had to put the 
drag on, and we submitted that the Con- 
vention should contain principles rather 
than details. I need not trouble you now 
by going into particulars ; but the result 


was that we were able to reduce the draft 
Convention of 1884 to such limits as to be 
able to recommend it to the favourable 
consideration and signature of our Govern- 
ment. Of course, certain alterations 
had to be made in our own laws, and 
these were the subject of very serious 
discussion at the Foreign Ofl&ce, under 
the able presidency of Mr. Bryce, wha 
has taken so great an interest in the 
matter. He was materially aided by Mr. 
Jenkyns, who drew the Bill for Parlia- 
ment, and by Mr. Bergne. As you know, 
ladies and gentlemen, that Bill was passed, 
with the result that we were able to sign 
the International Copyright Convention 
at Berne last September. Great Britain 
will consequently be one of the original 
members of the International Copyright 
Union. I am happy to say that the first 
ratification of the Convention which 
has reached Berne came from Great 
Britain. We hope that, among Euro- 
pean countries, France, Germany, Italy, 
Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland, at all 



events, will be ready by September next 
with their ratifications, and that the new 
Union will be formed by the end of the 

With regard to the United States of 
America, which country is of course of 
more importance than any other to us, 
great progress has been made. It had 
been objected that we ought not to join 
this Union at all, because the negotiations 
which, as Lord Lytton has stated, took 
place some thirty years ago, and others 
since, came to nothing. I may say that 
this was not my feeling. On the contrary, 
I considered that our joining the Union 
would of itself be something in favour of 
the Americans following the same course, 
and if, as I hope and trust, no long time 
will elapse before all the great States of 
Europe, as well as some in South America, 
become members of this new International 
Union, the United States will hardly be 
able to keep out of it, but will join it too. 

As far as the American Minister at Berne 
is concerned, I should mention that he has 


spoken freely in favour of the Convention^ 
and he expects that his country will, by 
degrees, view this question in a more 
favourable light. Already several Bills 
have been presented to Congress, and the 
President, in his last message, recom- 
mended the subject of International Copy- 
right to the attention of that body. 

It is clear, therefore, that the United 
States have made progress, and I have 
every hope that many years will not elapse 
before that great country joins this im- 
portant Union. 


Sir Frederick Pollock. 

Edmund Gosse. 

The Second Conference was held on 
the 9th March, in Willis's Rooms. The 
Chair was taken by Sir Frederick W. 
Pollock, Bart., who opened the pro- 
ceedings with the following address : — 

Ladies and Gentlemen, — After the very- 
eloquent address given upon a similar 
occasion in this room last week by Lord 
Lytton, and after the very admirable and 
practical essay which we then had the plea- 
sure of hearing from Mr. Walter Besant, 
I do not think it necessary now to address 
you at any great length. Still, there may 
be ladies and gentlemen here to-day who 
were not able to be here last week, and I 
think it may be desirable just again, very 
shortly, to recapitulate what are the objects, 
views, and intentions of the Authors' 



Society, and to call your attention to what 
has already been done in achieving those 
objects in the very short time vv^hich has 
elapsed since they were made generally 

The first thing we have to say is, that 
the meeting of last Wednesday, and the 
publication given to what then transpired 
by the press, has been followed by more 
favourable results than even we could have 
anticipated. There have been correspond- 
ence and articles in the daily papers which 
are just of the sort that we wanted ; and 
we trust that public discussion and ventila- 
tion of the subject will continue until our 
ends are attained. 

Now, I wish it to be most distinctly 
understood, on the part of the Society, 
that we have no hostility whatever 
against publishers. It would be absurd 
if authors were to entertain anv such 
feelings, and, as a rule, I do not suppose 
that they do entertain any such feelings. 
Many of them have been most handsomely 
and generously rewarded by publishers, 



even beyond the letter of their bond ; and 
I trust that the vast majority of publishers, 
if not yet attaining to eminence, at least 
deserve the epithet of respectability. 

The three points that were made last 
week, and which we now again make, 
are — first, it must be admitted, and 
is cheerfully admitted, that publishers, 
as men of business, embarking their 
capital and enterprise, and giving their 
own brains and time to the develop- 
ment of a particular business, must re- 
ceive adequate remuneration, and it must 
not be forgotten that the business of a 
publisher is of a very peculiar nature. 
The wares in which they deal are not of a 
kind to admit generally of any previous 
verification of value. They have to cater 
to the wants and wishes of the reading 
public, and that public is not always the 
most judicious, and is frequently uncertain 
and capricious in what it adopts and what 
it rejects. Not to speak of recondite works, 
dealing with out-of-the-way subjects, for 
which no great amount of popularity can 



be expected, we all know that there are 
works of great value and interest, and 
exceedingly readable, which somehow or 
other do not find many readers ; and, on 
the other hand, there are works which, 
from hitting the taste of the town for a 
moment, or dealing with some subject 
which happens for the moment to be 
engaging attention, perhaps attain an 
immediate popularity far beyond their 
own intrinsic deserts. 

A publisher, having to deal with that 
particular difficulty in his business, must 
have conceded to him — and there again 
we freely admit it — the opportunity of 
making out of each transaction something 
which must be carried over towards making 
up the losses in other transactions, and bad 
debts, and so forth. That, we freely admit 
and concede, must be the case. But when 
we come to the mode in which, very fre- 
quently, the bargain is concluded — I would 
rather say, has been concluded hitherto, 
between publishers and authors, because 
I do trust very confidently that we shall 




very soon be able to speak of it as a matter 
of the past— when we come to that, we 
see one very common form of agreement 
between a publisher and author, to which 
this Society has lent its utmost efforts to 
give publicity, because we know that to 
give publicity to it is at once to put an end 
to it. I mean the practice which has pre- 
vailed in the trade, when the agreement 
between the publisher and the author takes 
the form of a contract to share profits, 
whether half-profits or two-thirds ; the 
result of which is, as has been the case 
hitherto, that when an account is presented 
by the publisher to his author, professing 
to show the profits, it is made out in such 
a way that certain sums, which really go 
into the pocket of the publisher as indispu- 
table profits, are lumped in with other sums, 
and made to appear, not on the credit, but 
on the debit side of the account. The pub- 
lisher's account with an author takes this 
form : You have on the debit side — print- 
ing, so much, say a hundred pounds ; paper, 
so much, say another sum ; binding, so 


much ; advertisements, so much. All that 
is put down on the debit side. Then on 
the credit side, there is — sale of so many- 
copies at so much. Whereas, in truth and 
in fact, in that sum of one hundred pounds 
for printing is included an amount, say of 
twenty, twenty-five, or thirty per cent, for 
discount ; so that what the publisher has 
really paid to the printer is not one hundred 
pounds, but say seventy pounds, or some 
other similar sum. 

The same remark applies to the sum 
supposed to have been paid for paper as it 
does to printing, and the sum which is 
supposed to have been paid for binding, as 
well as to the sum supposed to have been 
paid for advertisements. And then, when 
an author, induced by any conversation 
with anybody that knows anything about 
it, asks whether that is not so, he is always 
met by the publisher saying **But it is not 
the custom of the trade to supply vouchers ; 
you must take it exactly as we choose to 
present it to you, and it is not for you to 
question or raise any contention about it." 



Now that, we say, is totally wrong and 
inequitable as between two parties to a 
contract to share profits — one party refus- 
ing to let the other know what the real 
state of the case is, or to aflFord to him any 
opportunity of looking into it by producing 
any vouchers or giving any explanation. 
Of course, in all commercial transactions, 
great and small, in this country, there is a 
system of trade discount. Well, that in 
itself is not immoral, and is not wrong. 
The ultimate purchaser, or consumer of an 
article which has passed through several 
hands, having various discounts and com- 
missions to pay, is not concerned with 
that ; if he can get the article cheaper at 
some other shop, he goes and does it. 
But as between two parties to a quasi con- 
tract of partnership, I say it is very wrong 
indeed that the partner who has been 
induced to sign an agreement without 
knowing what it really means, and who, 
afterwards finds out what it really does 
mean, should be denied all opportunity of 
examining into it. That, I say, is wrong. 





Therefore, the three points we have been 
trying to make are : First, admit that pub- 
lishers shall have fair profits ; secondly, that 
there are to be no secret profits — and such 
are these profits which arise from the mode 
in which the accounts are made out ; and, 
thirdly, that those accounts may be verified 
and open to inspection. 

We have had, as I have already said, 
the gratification of seeing that a con- 
siderable discussion has been provoked, 
and some publishers have taken part in it 
by letters addressed to the public papers ; 
and in a paper published only this evening, 
the Pall Mall Gazette^ there is a very long 
and fruitful and satisfactory account of an 
interview with an eminent member of the 
firm of Messrs. Chatto and Windus. There 
you will find that that gentleman has dis- 
claimed any desire to support the system 
of secret profits ; and in none of the pub- 
lished letters that have come under my 
notice have I seen on the part of any 
publisher any attempt to justify or main- 
tain that system. 


I may mention one thing which, to me> 
has always shown how little it was thought 
to be fairly maintainable, and it is this : that 
in my long experience in such matters — an 
experience lying very much in a direction 
where one was pretty sure to hear of it 
if it had happened— I think I am quite 
correct in saying that there has been no 
instance where a publisher has submitted 
to come into court as a litigant, where an 
author has resisted a claim, or has pressed 
a claim ; and, I presume, the reason of that 
is, because they must have known that, if 
once brought into court or before a legal 
referee of any kind, they must have pro- 
duced their accounts, and must have 
submitted them to an examination or the 
production of vouchers. I think that fact 
alone would go a long way to show that 
publishers themselves have always felt that 
the system could not be justified. 

I have another matter to call attention 
to — a letter which we have received with 
the greatest possible satisfaction, and which 
I am sure, ladies and gentlemen, you will 


hear with the greatest possible satisfaction, 
because I think it sounds the death-knell 
of the system of secret profits ; and that 
knell is rung from a very lofty tower indeed, 
and I think it will be heard and attended 
to everyivhere. Mr. Besant has had a 
letter from Mr. Charles Longman, a mem- 
ber of that eminently conspicuous firm 
which has so long flourished in Paternoster 
Row— a firm whose mode of doing 
business, and the fulness and fairness of 
whose accounts — made out, of course, 
according to the old custom of the trade — 
has never for one moment been disputed. 
He writes to say that in future his firm 
will adopt the practice of giving vouchers 
for accounts. Well, that has come from 
the great firm of Longman and Co., in Pat- 
ernoster Row. I venture to think that if 
that eminent firm of Longman and Co., of 
Paternoster Row, undertake for the 
future to furnish vouchers for accounts, 
every other publisher in the kingdom will 
not be long in following their honourable 


I do not know that I need trouble you 
with any further remarks of mine, ladies 
and gentlemen, or detain you any longer i 

from the pleasure of hearing my friend Mr. 
Edmund Gosse, who has been so good as to 
promise us some remarks on this occasion^ 
upon the Profession of Authorship, and I 
will now ask him to proceed with them. 

Mr. Edmund Gosse : Ladies and Gentle- 
men, — Sir Frederick Pollock has, I think, 
not overstated the interest with which the 
public has welcomed the meetings of the 
Society of Authors. If there were any 
doubt about that at all, it would, I think, 
be set at rest by the crowded meeting we 
hold to-day, nor can that interest fail to be 
much increased by the remarks that our 
chairman himself has let fall, and the news 
that he has given to us. I am conscious, 
however, that not only must I in any case 
be much discouraged in following so 
eminent a friend of the public as my col- 
league, Mr. Walter Besant, but also that 
my subject to-day is far less piquant than 
that which he treated before me. 


You listened last Wednesday to an 
attack on the wicked publisher, which 
«eems to have attracted a great deal of 
attention. To-day I have nothing to say 
about him : my few remarks will be 
directed to the wicked public, and I think 
that declaration ought to set at rest any 
fear that this Society intends to deal in 
personalities, since by placing the public 
on the same level with the publisher, we 
certainly put ourselves outside the dread 
of being charged with dispensing with 
■either, since I can imagine nothing so 
ludicrous as a Society of Authors whose 
wish it should be to suppress the whole 
class of readers. 

If I may be allowed to detain you for a 
few moments in the consideration of what 
it is we^desire to protect against the public 
— against, that is, of course, such general 
abuses as we believe to exist — I will at 
once ask you not to suppose that we have 
any Quixotic notions in the matter, or that 
we attempt to do without the laws of 
political economy. With supply and 




demand, those dear old friends, we have 
no intention of quarrelling ; but we think, 
without any absurd sentimentality, that 
there may be some portions of the profes- 
sional career of a man of letters which 
organization may take under its protection 
and may improve. In the first place, I 
would ask your leave to dwell a few 
moments on the charge which is sure to 
be brought against us, if it has not already 
been brought, that this Society is an organ- 
ization for the cultivation and preservation 
of the Amateur. To this, ladies and gen- 
tlemen, we emphatically reply in the 
negative. What is an amateur ? In the 
other professions I think it is very easy to 
say what an amateur is. In the medical 
profession there is the old lady who has 
her own Materia Medica, who makes up 
her own pillules aud her own prescriptions, 
and who takes them and believes in them. 
She is the medical amateur. In the legal 
profession there is the late Tichborne 
claimant, who, as I am assured, ekes out 
the money that he receives in his travelling 


show, by oflfering to the inhabitants valu- 
able legal advice, founded on long experi- 
ence in the courts of Europe. That is 
the legal amateur. Then, again, in the 
fine arts, there is the person whom we all 
know, who paints in water-colours, and is 
the cousin of the Earl of Cork. Now there 
is no difficulty in dealing with those ama- 
teurs. Not for a moment would any of us 
confound them with the tolerably skilful 
practitioner of medicine, who just secures 
a respectable living. We none of us 
compare them with the poor artist who 
conscientiously carries on his work against 
great troubles and diflficulties. These we 
know are not merely not amateurs, but 
they are the very extreme opposite of the 
amateur. To call these people amateurs 
would be to make the same mistake that 
I once knew a little Belgian boy to make 
in objecting to get into a third-class carriage 
that was full of excellent labourers and 
peasants, on the ground that he could see 
that they were all parvenus. The half- 
successful and deserving professional and 


the pure amateur are at opposite poles 
to one another. 

Now as to another branch of this sub- 
ject : the amateur is the very person whom 
this Society does not want to protect. All 
over the world, editors are deluged with 
manuscripts from people who have no 
vocation whatever to write. Everywhere 
throughout the Anglo-Saxon world thou- 
sands of pens are at work that never ought 
to be at work at all. One of the functions 
of this Society, when we succeed in bring- 
ing it into full organization, will be to 
dissuade as many persons as possible from 
the profession of letters ; but when they 
have once entered it, when their vocation 
is plain, at all events, to themselves, then 
it will be our wish to do our best to make 
things smooth for them. 

But we have not quite done with the 
amateur yet. How far are we sure that 
these comparisons with the legal and 
medical, and even with the artistic profes- 
sion are fair ones ? Each of these profes- 
sions consists of a large number of persons, 


who would not make any claim to reach a 
position above mediocrity ; but who never- 
theless, having gone through a technical 
training, are able to support themselves 
more or less satisfactorily, and who depend 
upon the practice of their profession for 
their entire livelihood. 

Now, how many persons like yourselves, 
I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, all more 
or less professional authors — how many of 
you, of us, could live by what we write if 
we did not eke out our living by journal- 
ism? We shall find that we have to take 
the circumstances into consideration, that, 
in the finest sense, paradoxical as it may 
seem, literature is not a profession. If we 
are to take the men who have other modes 
of getting the principal amount of their 
earnings, who are journalists, who have 
clerkships, who have academical chairs or 
lectureships, we must remove from the 
category all but a few very successful 
novelists. Are all these men, I ask you, 
to be called amateurs ? Was Wordsworth 
an amateur because he collected stamps 


in Westmoreland, or was Fielding an 
amateur because he was a Westminster 
magistrate ? So that I think we may 
hardly take the professional comparison 
as a strictly correct one. What we want 
to do is, not to deal with the people who 
are earning their entire livelihood by 
literature, but to look facts in the face — 
perhaps to say that nobody ought to expect 
to live entirely by literature, but certainly 
that people who make it a fraction of their 
livelihood are, equally with the wholly 
professional authors, deserving of such 
protection as organizations can give them. 
In the press we have presented before 
us optimistic pictures of the delightful 
condition in which literary men exist at 
this time. We are pointed back to the 
eighteenth century, and are told that 
Grub Street, — or No-grub Street, as it has 
been called, — is a place which no longer 
exists : that all now is Arcadian and 
delightful, and that we all are able, if we 
behave ourselves, and write with decency, 
to make handsome salaries. 


gling, loafing about the British Museum^ 
and walking idly up and down Fleet Street 
— men who might perhaps be the Otways 
and Chattertons of the age if they had a 
little more encouragement given to them. 
But these people — for again we must face 
the matter not with sentimentality but 
with common-sense — these men are di- 
vided into two great classes, the helpable 
and the unhelpable. Permit me for a 
moment to deal with the unhelpable. 

In the last century the unhelpable was 
typically exemplified by a certain Samuel 
Boyse, the author of a poem on the Deity. 
Samuel Boyse seems to have started in 
life with as many advantages as ever befel 
a man of letters. The number of Earls 
and Countesses that filed through hi& 
career is enough to make the modern un- 
patroned author envious ; but it was im- 
possible for them to help Boyse. His 
whole life was a long continuation of his 
being picked up out of the gutter by some 
noble patron, put on his legs, and seen ta 
fall again the moment he was left. He is 



instance which it is impossible can wound 
anyone now, an instance of a man who 
has been for some years past dead, and 
who I believe was known, or known of, 
by some of my. friends on this platform. 
He was a man who came up from one of 
the Universities with some amount of 
knowledge, for he said he had taken a 
First, although it must be confessed that 
his name never could be found in the lists. 
This man had the highest ambition to excel 
in literature, yet all that he managed to 
make was 35^. a week from the editor of 
a weekly paper, to keep himself in board 
and lodging. Well, if this man had had 
the slightest power of helping himself, 
there is no doubt that he might have risen 
to better things ; but he was in a much 
worse position than Boyse, for there was 
no interest taken in him by the aristocracy, 
and no curiosity felt about his poems. He 
was left to his unaided eflForts. His un- 
aided eflForts plunged him lower and lower 
in the tide of things, till at last, at the 
oflBice where he got his only salary, a 



was now crossed, and that he wished to 
resign his position on the paper ; he en- 
closed a ticket from a pawnbroker. After 
this unfortunate incident, he sank lower 
and lower, till he hung all day about the 
British Museum. At last he became a 
super at a theatre, and then he faded out 
altogether. Now, those two persons, 
whom I take as types, belong to the 
unhelpable class, with which we can do 
nothing. We acknowledge its existence, 
that it may not be thrown in our faces ; 
but we say at once that for it no society, 
no organization, can do anything. 

What, then, of the helpable author ? 
The helpable author is not the fashionable 
novelist, the fashionable essayist, the suc- 
cessful man who has many other strings 
to his bow, who has a salary here, who 
has private means there. No ! The person 
whom we wish, if possible, to do some- 



thing to help is the half-successful writer, 
the person who has a right to exist, and 
who yet cannot force himself, or herself, 
strongly upon the public. And there are 
two classes of the helpable to whom I 
would specially draw attention. One of 
those consists of women. 

Here again I speak not of the leaders 
of the profession but of the rank and file, 
not of the George Eliots and Elizabeth 
Barretts, but of the smaller, yet legitimately 
successful, lady-writers. My own impres- 
sion is that most ladies of this class claim 
rather less than more of what they have a 
right to ; they have their small circle of 
readers, a circle for whom they prepare 
innocent and delightful recreation. They 
have a right to be protected for the sake 
of these readers, as well as for their own 
sake. They have a right to demand that 
there should be somebody, some society, 
ready to see that they do not fall into 
traps, that they do not become the prey 
of sharpers, and, in short, to protect their 
legitimate interests. 



as we have not thought of. It is about 
one hundred and twenty years since Ralph 
wrote his little volume, " The Case of 
Authors" ; and the lamentations in that 
little book might almost, word for word, 
be repeated now. All Ralph's appeals 
to authors to organize, to unite, have 
passed for one hundred and twenty years 
without producing any sort of effect. 
Now, for the first time, we are attempting 
in a very small way to begin that work of 

And now, if you will permit me to do 
so, I should like to read you a brief sum- 
mary, or precis, which we have made of 
the laws of the great French Society. The 
French Association of Men and Women 
of Letters, entitled the Society des Gens 
de Lettres, was founded in 1837, and will 
celebrate its jubilee in December next. 
The objects of this Soci6te, as laid down 
in its statutes, are, first, to defend the 
rights and interests of its members ; second, 
to ensure to people of letters the advan- 
tages which are due to them as producers 


and holders of intellectual property; third, 
to introduce all desirable improvements 
into the conditions of literary work ; and, 
fourth, to regulate and divide among the 
members any such profits as may accrue 
to the Socidt6. The Soci6t6 is at liberty 
to encourage and protect any institutions 
that may appear to its management to 
be of a nature to increase the resources 
and usefulness of the Soci^te. It may 
organize conferences, lectures, and dram- 
atic representations, but it is strictly pro- 
hibited from entering into any commercial 
speculation. In case of any dispute 
between members, its Council may be 
considered as a tribunal. Any man of 
letters who wishes to become a member 
of the Soci6t6 des Gens de Lettres must 
send in a written request to the Council, 
and this request must be supported by 
two members of the Soci6t6. At the 
next meeting of the Council, the candi- 
date is balloted for. Foreigners resident 
in France are eligible for election, but 
can never take part in the administration 


of the Societ6. Candidates for member- 
ship must produce copies of at least 
two printed volumes in octavo of their 
own production. If elected, they pay 
an entrance fee of forty francs, and an 
annual sum of twelve francs, or else a 
life-membership of two hundred francs. 
Those who have not yet published enough 
to become eligible for full membership 
may be elected associates. After three 
years, if the associate has not succeeded 
in gaining full membership, his connection 
with the Societe lapses. Each full member 
has the right of voting and speaking at 
the general meetings, and of presenting 
himself as a candidate for election to the 
Council. He is bound to present to the 
library of the Socidte a copy of every book 
that he publishes ; if he writes under a pseu- 
donym, it is his duty to make his identity 
confidentially known to the Council. At 
the request of any member, the Soci6t6 
will instruct an agent to make the best 
possible agreement with a publisher, a 
printer, or the editor of a journal. The 


Society has a general form, upon which 
the agreement with a publisher should be 
based, and, unless a special stipulation in 
a contrary sense has previously been made 
in writing, it is understood that this general 
fonn is to be used. The terms of this 
form are as follows : First, the concession 
of a book to any publisher is made for 
only one edition, or for the passage 
through one single journal,, even when 
that same publisher issues several jour- 
nals ; secondly, the author resumes the 
complete disposition of his work, if it be 
in a book form, when the number of copies 
agreed upon for the first edition is ex- 
hausted, or, if it be issued in periodical 
form, when the periodical has been supr 
plied to the subscribers. I need not call 
your attention to the fact how very im- 
portant that is. The Society is particu- 
larly active in protecting its members from 
infringement of copyright, and is provided 
with agents whose business it is to report 
to the Council any such acts on the part 
of provincial editors or managers. Its 


members are encouraged to state on their 
title-pages that all journals which have 
not made special terms with the Soci6t6 
are *^ forbidden to reproduce the contents 
of this work.'' The Societe, on the other 
hand, increases the honorarium, which 
authors receive for periodical work by 
making terms with syndicates of news- 
papers. The object of the Soci6te in all 
questions of dispute is to prevent litigation, 
and bring about, if possible, an amicable 
compromise. It is not necessary to go 
into the details of the administration of 
the French Societe. That it has been 
successful from a money point of view 
may be gathered from the fact that it has 
been found possible to lay aside a sum 
sufficiently large to enable a pension to be 
paid to each member who has passed the 
age of sixty, and who has been connected 
with the Societe for twenty years. In 
many respects it performs the functions 
of our own admirable Royal Literary Fund. 
I may add that the Society has other 
functions in its mode of discipline and 


ejection, and I would call your attention 
for a moment to a fact, which no doubt 
many of you remember, that a year or two 
ago, when a very scandalous and libellous 
novel was directed by a certain personage 
in Paris against an eminent lady, this novel 
was going through a great many editions, 
and the advantage accruing to the authoress 
was so large that she snapped her fingers 
at the expense of respectability, when a 
perfectly overwhelming snub was given to 
her by her rejection from the Societe des 
Gens de Lettres. There could hardly be, 
in a small way, a greater proof of its 

It is, then, ladies and gentlemen, to a 
Society framed on this basis that we are 
asking the benefit of your testimony 
this day. We shall be most thankful to 
receive from anyone present any idea in 
connection with it. Our great anxiety is 
to do as much good as we possibly can to 
the less fortunate, but thoroughly deserv- 
ing members of that profession in which 
we are all engaged, and any assistance 


that you can give us in drawing up our 
rules, or giving us the benefit of your 
opinion, will be most truly welcomed as 
spreading the usefulness of this Society. 


Sir Francis Adams. 

John Hollingshead. 

The Third Conference of the Society was 
held on i6th March, at Willis's Rooms, 
under the presidency of Sir Francis 
O. Adams, k.c.m.g., c.b. The Chairman 
opened the proceedings with the following 
observations : — 

Ladies and Gentlemen, — In the first 
place, I am sorry to inform you that at 
the last moment I have heard that our 
president. Sir Frederick Pollock, has not 
been able to come here to-day, and that 
Mr. Herman Merivale, from whom we 
expected much, is ill, so that he cannot 
be present either. 

Now, before I proceed to the few 
remarks which I propose to make on this 
occasion, I would beg to oflFer one word 
of personal explanation. I felt very great 


hesitation in taking the chair to-day. I 
had had no personal experience of anything 
of the sort, and, coming after such dis- 
tinguished men as Lord Lytton and Sir 
Frederick Pollock, you may imagine what 
I felt. I certainly have written a book, 
or else I should not belong to the Society ; 
but I have never written a play, either a 
good one or a bad one, and, as far as 
acting is concerned, the only thing I can 
remember to have done in that way, was 
when I was a boy at school. That I look 
back upon with some sort of pleasurable 
emotion, for I was always chosen to take 
the ladies' parts. But having been lately 
elected a vice-president of your Society, 
and my friend, Mr. John Hollingshead, 
having also pressed me, I agreed to take 
the chair, and all I can beg of you is to 
pardon any deficiencies which I believe 
are always attendant on first appearances 
upon any stage. 

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the subject 
of our conference is, ** Dramatic Rights 
and Property,'^ and we are to have the 


very good fortune of hearing an address 
from Mr. John HoUingshead, than whom, 
I need hardly say, upon this branch of 
literary property, no one can be more 
competent. I think that all of us here 
present will agree that dramatic property 
is a species of private rights, concerning 
which we should all be particularly in- 
terested in seeing that every protection is 
given that is possible. Who of us here 
present has not obtained great enjoyment 
from the drama? Such enjoyment is, 
indeed, the privilege of all. No one who 
cares to reap profit from it need be ex- 
cluded therefrom. We are all, then, 
interested in the drama. The drama itself 
has existed in all times, and in all climes. 
It was flourishing in classical Rome and 
Athens. We have had our own immortal 
Shakespeare, and, not to go further, one 
can mention the names of Schiller and 
Goethe in Germany, and Moli^re in France. 
It is, in fact, a thing of all times — of 
yesterday, of to-day, of to-morrow — and 
will continue, I believe, as long as this 


earth exists. Surely, then, ladies and 
gentlemen, the author whose special apti- 
tude is dramatic literature, and the the- 
atrical manager, who labours so hard, and 
risks so much, in order to give effect to 
his author's ideas, and thereby to provide 
intellectual recreation to the public, and 
to all sorts and conditions of men — surely 
both of these deserve, and ought to have, 
every possible protection in the rights of 
the property created by them. 

Ladies and gentlemen, you all know, 
either personally or by reputation, Mr. 
John HoUingshead, and therefore my task 
in introducing him to you this afternoon 
is a very easy one. Biit I must be per- 
mitted, perhaps, to say that by his untiring 
energy, by his undoubted talents, by the 
marvellous capacity which he has shown 
in catering to the public taste for many 
and many a year, he has provided recrea- 
tion and intellectual enjoyment for a 
countless number of delighted audiences. 

Before calling upon him, ladies and 
gentlemen, I venture, without at all 


desiring to intrude upon the scope of his 
observations, to draw your attention to 
one small point in connection with the 
international view of the whole question 
of copyright ; in fact, to the one particular 
point in which I, as one of the British 
delegates at the International Conferences 
at Berne, am naturally more specially in- 
terested. It is known to you all that 
according to the British law, although the 
publication of an unauthorized dramatic 
version of a novel is prohibited, that pro- 
hibition, as the law stands at present, 
actually does not extend to its representa- 
tion upon the stage. In consequence of 
this anomaly in the law, the British dele- 
gates in the conference of 1885 could only 
give a kind of general support to the 
principle that it should be abolished. We 
stated that, in our opinion, it would be 
expedient to prohibit, not only the un- 
authorized dramatization of a novel, but 
also its representation on the stage. In 
our Report to Lord Salisbury, which 
was dated the 25th September, 1885, we 


recommended that the right to translate, 
to dramatize, or abridge a work should be 
reserved exclusively to the author for the 
whole period of his copyright in that work. 
Well, the International Copyright Law 
has been passed, but what remains to be 
effected is the amendment and codification 
of our Domestic Copyright Law ; and it 
is earnestly to be hoped that before long 
Her Majesty's Government will, be able 
to take up that subject, and bring a Bill 
into parliament with reference to it alone. 
You are all aware of the grievous defects 
which that legislation — consisting of I do 
not know how many laws — shows at pre- 
sent. These were severely commented on 
in 1878 by the Royal Commission which 
sat upon the whole subject. I may just 
mention what those Commissioners re- 
ported ; they said, " The form of the 
existing copyright is bad ; it is wholly 
destitute of any sort of arrangement, in- 
complete, often obscure ; and even where 
it is intelligible after long study, it is in 
many parts so ill-expressed that no one 


who does not give such study can expect 
to understand it." These are not my 
words, but I think that they show pretty 
well the state in which the copyright law 
is now. Therefore I only hope, as I have 
already said, that some codification and 
amendment of the law will soon be pre- 
sented to Parliament, and that a clause 
will be inserted, removing the anomaly to 
which I have had the honour to draw 
your attention. 

Now, ladies and gentlemen, it only re- 
mains for me to introduce to you Mr. 
HoUingshead and I hope there will be a 
pleasant discussion upon the subject of 
our conference after he has delivered 
his address. 

Mr. Hollingshead,* who was received 
with loud applause, said : Sir Francis 
Adams, and ladies and gentlemen, — I am 
extremely obliged to you for your atten- 
dance here on this very inclement day, 

* Mr. Hollingshead delivered an address which 
has been taken down in shorthand. It was not a 
written lecture. 



for the simple reason that I am afraid your 
committee have given me a subject which 
is about the driest they could possibly 
give to me. I will not say it is as dry as 
the remainder biscuit after a voyage^ 
because I am afraid it is a great deal drier. 
It is as dry as a ptarmigan, or a prairie-hen^ 
and I am afraid no amount of literary 
cooking will make it very palatable. 
Therefore, if there are any ladies and 
gentlemen who have come here to-day 
under the impression that they are going 
to have a very amusing afternoon, I will 
do all I can to make it amusing, but I am 
afraid they will be somewhat disappointed. 

Sir Francis Adams, in his address, has 
touched upon one of the subjects which I 
shall confine my attention to this after- 
noon. In fact, ladies and gentlemen, all 
I intend to bring before you this afternoon 
is the question of unauthorized adaptations 
of novels, and the very repressive restric- 
tions that surround international copyright. 

The novel in this country, and I believe 
in no other country, seems to be fair game 


for anybody. It seems to be common 
property; as much common property as a 
public common or a drinking fountain that 
is dedicated to the public. In America, 
in France, and in other countries it is not 
so. The writer of a work of fiction, if 
there is any dramatic value in that work 
of fiction, retains his property in that 
dramatic work, or any dramatic work that 
may be founded upon his novel. In this 
country it is so notoriously different that 
I would suggest to every novelist — and I 
have a very eminent novelist behind me — 
that these three or four lines of the poet, 
slightly altered, should be the permanent 
preface to every book : 

**Go, little book ! from this my solitude 
I cast thee on the waters ; wend thy ways, 
And if, as I believe, thy plot be good, 
The stage will grab thee before many days." 

Now, in connection with these adapta- 
tions of works of fiction, there is a very 
active gentleman abroad called the un- 
authorized adapter. Many hard words 
have been applied to this gentleman at 



various times, and I think my late lament- 
ed friend, Mr. Charies Reade, generally 
applied the harshest terms to him. 
Occasionally he called him a skunk, and 
generally he called him a pirate. Now^ 
ladies and gentlemen, I believe the word 
"skunk,'* as applied to any member of the 
human race — and I suppose, Mr. Chair- 
man, you will consider the unauthorized 
adapter as a member of the human race. 
('' Doubtful") I believe the word "skunk" 
is a term of endearment common amongst 
Texan cow-boys. Therefore we will put 
that term on one side. With regard to 
the word "pirate," that is evidently a 
misnomer. A pirate, ladies and gentle- 
men, is a man who starts on an open 
career of crime — avowedly a career of 
crime — and carries his life in his hands. 
I do not think the unauthorized adapter 
does that exactly ; and, what is more^ 
whatever he does he does under the direct 
sanction and authority of an Act of Parlia- 
ment, which has passed both Houses of 
the State — both deliberative assemblies — 


and been sanctioned by the constitutional 
Monarch for the time being. The proper 
term for him, perhaps, would rather be 
the "pet of the law,*' or the "privileged 
purloiner '' ; in fact, there are many terms 
that might be applied to him. But I 
think, for our purpose to-day, we will call 
him the legal adapter, as whatever he does 
is done legally, and you cannot prevent 
him doing it. 

Now, nearly all the writers of fiction in 
this country, for the last fifty years, have 
been great sufferers by the unsatisfactory 
state of the copyright law, as regards the 
unauthorized dramatization of novels. In 
the first place, the late Charles Dickens 
was a great and peculiar sufferer. His 
favourite form of publication, as you know, 
was, the publication in monthly numbers, 
and this exposed him to a very peculiar 
form of annoyance. Some five or six 
months before his novel was completed, 
and before he had either determined upon 
the finish of his novel, or thought proper 
to disclose it to the public, the legal 


adapter, as I will call him, seized upon that 
novel, and not only presented it upon the 
stage without the author's permission, 
but took the liberty of finishing the 
story in his own particular way, much, of 
course, to the annoyance of the author, to 
say nothing of the loss of profit to him. 
Another great sufferer was Mrs. Henry 
Wood, lately deceased. I have seen it 
stated that the dramatic profits from the 
adaptation of " East Lynne " — her most 
popular novel — have reached the enor- 
mous sum of fifty thousand pounds — not 
one farthing of which ever went into her 
pocket. Her case was considered so 
shameful about five-and-twenty years ago, 
that Lord Lyttleton, I think it was — I am 
speaking a great deal from memory, and I 
am open to correction — Lord Lyttleton 
tried to introduce a short Bill into one of 
the Houses, probably the House of Lords, 
to relieve her from these legal disabilities. 
But the Bill was not received by the 
Legislature of the time, on the ground 
that they objected very much to piece- 


meal legislation, and that in a short time 
they would probably consider the whole 
question of cop)a*ight. This, ladies and 
gentlemen, was more than a quarter of a 
century ago, and, as far as I am aware, 
the Legislature has not found time to 
consider the question of copyright, nor 
does it seem likely to be able to 
find time. The only great novelist of 
our period, probably, who escaped these 
depredations was the late Mr. Thackeray, 
and for the very good reason that, not- 
withstanding the enormous merit of his 
works, they did not contain much of the 
dramatic element. Take the case of 
" Vanity Fair, " perhaps the greatest novel 
in our language. I have no doubt many 
of the privileged purloiners have walked 
round that, and have left it much with the 
same state of feelings that my friend the 
burglar leaves the burglar-proof safe, 
though, probably, their language was 
more elegant when they left it than his 
was. The lady who writes under the 
name of " Ouida *' has been another 


suflferer, ana she not only complains that 
her novels have been dramatized without 
her consent, but that they have been cari- 
catured at the same time. She has very 
often been blamed for characters and in- 
cidents introduced in plays founded on 
her works, for which she is not respon- 
sible, and over which she has no control. 
Mr. Anthony TroUope was another victim. 
The only author of the first rank, probably, 
who ever succeeded in defeating the pri- 
vileged purloiner was the late Mr. Charles 
Reade. In addition to his great genius as 
a writer of fiction, he had the training, not 
the tactics, of an Old Bailey lawyer. When 
his celebrated novel of " Never too Late 
to Mend " first appeared, the attention of 
the unauthorized adapters was, of course, 
immediately directed to it, and, to use a 
common expression, it was pounced upon, 
and put upon the stage. Fortunately for 
Mr. Charles Reade, he laid a trap to catch 
these gentlemen, for previous to the pub- 
lication of his novel of " Never too Late 
to Mend,'' he had produced a drama called 


*' Gold '* at Drury Lane Theatre, and in 
the novel of " Never too Late to Mend '* 
he incorporated such large slabs of the 
drama of '* Gold/' that it was impossible 
for any adapter to go to the novel of 
" Never too Late to Mend/' and to make 
a drama without using those slabs of the 
previous drama called " Gold/' Conse- 
quently, in the action brought against Mr. 
Conquest, one of the adapters whom he 
selected, Mr. Conquest was cast in dam- 
ages, and had to throw himself at the feet 
of the clever and successful author. Now^ 
I am far from saying, ladies and gentle- 
men, that an adapter of a novel who takes 
a difficult work to deal with, like ** Vanity 
Fair," does not put a great deal of inde- 
pendent labour into that adaptation before 
it is ready for the stage, and likely to be 
a success. Such an adapter, if he has the 
consent of the author, or comes to any 
reasonable terms with the author, is en- 
titled to a certain amount of credit, and a 
certain amount of the profits from that 
adaptation. But, as the law at present 


Stands, ^ man may write practically a story 
or a novel which is absolutely a play, and 
requires no independent labour whatever 
to make it a play, and yet he is not pro- 
tected. A case of this kind occurred 
within my own experience. During the 
time, I think from 1856 to 1868, when I 
was getting my living as a literary man, 
and writing more or less for 20 or 25 
newspapers or periodicals, I was asked to 
write for a magazine which endeavoured 
to treat subjects in a popular way, although 
it was conducted on serious, if not on 
almost religious lines. The editor of that 
periodical, I need scarcely say, was one of 
the most liberal-minded men who ever sat 
in an editor's chair, or preached from a 
Scotch pulpit. My connection with that 
magazine, though satisfactory, I believe, 
to a great number of the readers, and 
certainly to the editor of that magazine, 
appeeired to be not quite so satisfactory 
to a certain portion of the readers who 
lived in Scotland ; and the inhabitants 
of a small village in Scotland not only 


published a protest against the admission 
of what they called " worldly writers '' in 
that periodical, but went to the extreme 
length of burning the periodical in the 
very small market-place of the village. 

Naturally, on my own account, I made 
some inquiry about this extraordinary 
village in Scotland, and I found that^its 
chief claim — in fact, its only claim — to 
distinction was that, counting heads — 
excuse me, ladies — it had the highest rate 
of illegitimacy of any place in the known 
world. A few days after that, con- 
versing with the editor, I drew his 
attention to this fact, and I put this 
question to him. I said, ** If a story were 
written that could be published in your 
magazine, and written in such a form that 
it would absolutely be a play, that it could 
be taken from that magazine and put upon 
the stage, without five words being taken 
out, or five words being put in — in fact, 
written solely in dialogue ; and, if I could 
arrange to have that story placed upon the 
stage direct from your magazine — your 


magazine being, in fact, used as the prompt- 
book of the theatre — what would happen? '' 

The editor said, '* I believe what would 
happen would be this. The magazine 
would be burned at the Market Cross of 
Edinburgh, and the circulation of the 
magazine would be doubled." The result 
of this was that I prepared a story on 
those lines. The story was duly pub- 
lished in the magazine, and — perhaps 
in a weak moment — I put a foot-note 
to the story, saying, ** The right of 
dramatizing this story is reserved by the 
author." This was a sort of notice to the 
adapters to go for it. My friend Mr. Toole 
— whom I am happy to see present — who 
had great faith in me at that time, and, I 
believe, has since, bought that story of 
me as a play with the intention of pro- 
ducing it in Scotland. That was the 
bargain. I said, **You know what the 
arrangement is? It must be produced 
either in Glasgow or in Edinburgh." 

Mr. Toole hesitated for some little time. 
He was busy with other things. It was 


a very simple story, ladies and gentle- 
men ; in fact, I think, if the truth may 
be told, it was a little dull. But when 
a story is dull, we do not call it dull 
now; we call it idyllic. Mr. Toole, at 
that time, was devoting his great artistic 
ability to more serious parts than he is 
indulging us with at present ; in fact, it was 
in his ** Caleb Plummer'' days. I believe 
this play was brought out while he was 
travelling about the country, and on one 
occasion, if I am rightly informed, it was 
put in rehearsal. At any rate, the atten- 
of the unauthorized adapter was drawn to 
it. He was told there was some story by 
HoUingshead published in some magazine 
somewhere, which had been turned into a 
play for Mr. Toole, and might easily be 
turned into a play for Mr. Tomkins. The 
result was that the unauthorized adapter 
went to the original source, as the Lord 
Chief Justice called it, the fountain-head 
of the story. He exercised his legal rights, 
and, before Mr. Toole produced his play, 
the unauthorized adapter produced his. 


and sold it to a gentleman who, I believe, 
did not pay for it. That did not matter. 

Well, I was not the sort of person at 
that time — I am a little older now — to sit 
down quietly under a wrong of this kind, 
and I immediately commenced an agitation 
for the reform of the copyright laws. This 
was in 1873, I think. I did this not so 
much for my own benefit — for I assure 
you, ladies and gentlemen, I am not speak- 
ing about this particular story from a 
personal point of view, because it is a 
mere trifle. 

It had this peculiarity about it, however, 
that it was written for the stage, and, as I 
tell you — let this point be distinctly under- 
stood — it was a play as it was published in 
the magazine, and it wanted nothing to 
make it a play to put it on the stage, but 
to study it from the magazine. 

Therefore, it formed more material for 
a test case than any novel you may possibly 
choose, although that novel might be — nay, 
would be — a hundred times more merit- 
orious. Well, this agitation for the reform 


of the copyright laws began. I wrote to 
a great number of distinguished authors, 
who all very kindly replied, sympathizing 
with my object. 

If you will allow me, I will just read 
one or two extracts from their letters. 
These were letters that were received by 
me at the Garrick Club in 1874. 

George Eliot wrote : " I thoroughly con- 
cur in the opinion that the law of copyright 
in relation to the dramatization of novels 
ought to be changed, and I shall willingly 
give my adhesion to any energetic effort 
towards attaining that end.'' Anthony 
TroUope says : *^ If a dramatist has a pro- 
perty in the plot of his play, or a novelist in 
the words of his story, why should not the 
novelist have a similar property in his plot ? 
I do not think I should refuse the use of 
my stories to any respectable dramatist 
who might pay me the compliment of 
asking for it, but I do. feel very bitter 
against those who endeavour to palm off 
as their own the work of others.'' Lord 
Lytton (the present Lord Lytton) : "I 



heartily s)anpathize with your efforts, and 
shall be very willing to co-operate to 
obtain such an amendment of the copy- 
right law as may prevent the unauthorized 
dramatization of novels/' Wilkie Collins : 
" My * Poor Miss Finch ' has been drama- 
tized (without asking my permission) by 
some obscure idiot in the country." 
Then, " I have been asked to dramatize 
it, and I have refused, because my ex- 
perience tells me that the book is emi- 
nently unfit for stage purposes. What 
I refuse to do with my work, another 
man (unknown in literature) is perfectly 
free to do against my will, and (if he can 
get his rubbish played) to the prejudice of 
my novel and my reputation." Tom 
Taylor : ** I quite agree with you that 
prior dramatization by an author ought to 
secure his stage property in a story from 
infringement by another dramatist without 
his permission." Charles Reade : **I con- 
sider it a heartless and wicked act to 
dramatize a story written by a dramatist, 
because you must know that he wishes to 


dramatize it himself." Shirley Brooks 
writes to the same eflFect. Miss Braddon 
writes : "I have written twenty- four 
novels ; many of these have been drama- 
tized, and a few of the dramatic versions 
still hold the stage. I have never received 
the smallest pecuniary advantage from any 
of these adaptations, nor does the law of 
copyright in any way assist me to protect 
what appears to be a valuable portion of 
my copyright, namely, the exclusive right 
to dramatize my own creation.'' Mr. 
Watts Phillips writes: ** * Amos Clark' 
was founded on a novel of mine. A 
thief the other day informed me he had 
as much right to give his version of my 
story as I had, by the law. Nearly every 
one of my stories has been dramatized, 
captured, and conveyed to the Cave of 
AduUam and elsewhere. Not a farthing 
given to me ; only, when I took up some 
of my situations (situations created by 
me) and worked them into a piece, I was 
told ' Thev have been done before.' " 
Dr. Westland Marston: ^*I am warm in 



the conviction that where a writer creates 
a property for himself in one branch 
of fiction, he should not lose it because 
some one else may be inclined to present 
its substance with a mere modification of 
form." William Gilbert, the novelist^ 
Florence Marryat, Sir Charles Youngs 
and other writers, including Palgrave 
Simpson, the secretary of the Dramatic 
Authors' Society, all agreed with the 
objects of that agitation. The result 
of this, ladies and gentlemen, was that, 
persistently knocking at the door of the 
Government, I and the gentlemen who 
did me the honour to work with me got 
at last a Royal Commission appointed. I 
should tell you, previous to its sitting, I 
took this correspondence to the late Earl 
Stanhope, and he said it formed such a 
consensus of opinion that it ought to lead 
to legislative action without the trouble 
of going through the form of a Royal 
Commission. However, it did not lead to 
that. We got a Royal Commission ap- 
pointed, which was to have sat in 1875 ? 


but owing to the lamented death of Lord 
Stanhope, it did not sit until the following 
year, when Lord John Manners, I think, 
took the presidency. After many sittings 
and a great deal of very valuable evidence, 
the report was published at the close of 
1875, recommending that all novelists 
should be secured in the sole right of 
dramatizing their own creations. This 
was in 1876, I should say, and, as usual, it 
is embalmed in the pages of the Blue- 
book. There it is, and no action whatever 
has been taken upon it up to this day. 

In order to get a test case and to get 
the opinions of a court of law on the 
question of this story that I mentioned of 
my own that appeared in this magazine, 
Mr. Toole and myself brought an action 
against the assignee of the unauthorized 
adaptation, Mr. Younge, who had com- 
mitted no oflfence, however. He had 
bought it in good faith, but we were 
bound to have a case in the Law Courts, 
and we selected him as a defendant. The 
late Lord Chief Justice, Sir Alexander 


Cockbum was dead against us from the 
first ; in fact, I rather think he gloated 
over the state of the law which deprived 
the novelist of his dramatic rights. How- 
ever, he defended the law, or rather, as 
most judges do, he did not defend the law 
in open words, but he said he was there to* 
administer the law as it stood, and not to re- 
form the law ; somebody else must reform 
the law if they wanted it altered. We took 
it to the Court of Appeal, and our case was 
very ably argued by the late Sir John Kars-- 
lake, but we were still defeated ; and Mr. 
Toole and myself paid between us some- 
thing like £700 for carrying this test case 
through, and obtaining this information. 

Well now, of course, after this indict- 
ment of the Copyright Act, as aflFecting the 
dramatization of novels, you will ask me,, 
ladies and gentlemen, whether the novelist 
has no remedy. There is a remedy, but 
opinions differ as to what that remedy is. 
I believe some legal authorities think that 
if the novelist makes his drama and pub- 
lishes his drama — he secures his copyright 


in that drama. I should be very sorry to 
see any novelist committing his drama to 
print,* publishing it, in fact, as a book, 
before he had had a performance of it on 
a public stage. That is my opinion. Of 
course if there are any gentlemen here 
with more legal experience than myself 
who think otherwise, we shall all be most 
happy to hear them, because we only want 
to arrive at the exact state of the law. 

But there is a remedy for the novelist, 
and a very curious remedy it is. We will 
assume that the novelist writes and pub- 
lishes a novel that has imbedded within it 
a perfect drama. His first duty will be to 
make a skeleton drama. He may make a 
thoroughly good acting drama if he likes, 
and then he has to get his drama per- 
formed. The question is, where ? We 
are now, ladies and gentlemen, brought 
face to face with a very extraordinary in- 
stitution in this country which you will 

* This point is still doubtful ; but a recent decision 
seems to fcivour the view that the author does not 
lose his performing right by printing the play. 


allow me to call The Theatre Royal, Stoke 
Pogis. It is a theatre entirely created by 
Act of Parliament, though it has not any 
subsidy from the State. You want to 
have a play performed to secure your 
copyright. You take it down to the Stoke 
Pogis Theatre, and you collect a small 
audience of ^* weary ploughmen." You 
stop their *^ plodding home," and you get 
them to go into this theatre with a sub- 
stantial payment, chiefly made in the beer 
of the realm, and you get them to form a 
legal quorum or audience. A sort of per- 
formance is gone through ; I cannot call 
it a performance — it is a sort of legal 
Mumbo-jumbo rite. These ploughmen 
witness this performance. The two re- 
spectable householders, who are rarely 
absent from any legal document in this 
country, then certify that a performance 
has been given, and the novelist then may 
go away perfectly satisfied that he has 
secured his legal rights in his play as dis- 
tinct from his publishing rights in his 
novel. And he has done more than that. 


If he should have a liberal offer from 
America, he then can play his play in 
America, secure in the knowledge that he 
has not lost his copyright in England, be- 
cause that bogus performance at the Stoke 
Pogis Theatre will secure his right in 
England against the law that says : if a play 
shall be first produced in any other country 
except the country in which it is written 
— England — the copyright is lost for ever. 
The common law of America, ladies and 
gentlemen, I may tell you, is much more 
liberal in these matters than our own statute 
law ; in fact, there are legal experts in this 
country who would rather have the rude 
simplicity and practical equity of our old 
common law, than the elaborate privilege 
of a very ill-drawn and unjust statute. 

This is all I have to say to-day, ladies 
and gentlemen, about the unauthorized 
adaptation of novels. The other question 
of copyright that I want to draw your at- 
tention to is the International Copyright 
Conventions, under which dramas are 
bought, and adapted, and performed, and 
sold in this country. 


There are two or three of these Copy- 
right Acts. I think the first was passed 
in 1844, and the second in 1852 ; but we 
are not here to bother about dates — for 
forty or fifty years they have been in ex- 
istence. Practically under those Acts we 
have only two conventions of much im- 
portance that we need deal with. I ques- 
tion whether we have more than two, but 
certainly only two of any importance ; 
and that is a convention with France, and 
a convention with Prussia. We have no 
convention with Austria whatever. The 
result is that while Von Moser, if he likes, 
is protected in Berlin, Dr. Mosenthal in 
Vienna is left out in the cold. For all 
practical purposes, however, we may drop 
Prussia altogether, and when we are 
speaking of this subject we will only speak 
of France, and that represents everything. 
You go to Monsieur Sardou, for example^ 
as some of my friends in this room have 
been frequently. I see one of them, Mr. 
Bancroft, in the corner. You give him^ 
say, a couple of thousand pounds for the 


English rights of a play that he has pro- 
bably not written, or is just about to pro- 
duce. I will tell you exactly what Mr. 
Bancroft (if he will excuse me using his 
name) buys for that ^2,000. He buys a 
five years' lease of the play, and nothing 
more. The liberty of translating • that 
play does not extend to more than five 
years. At the end of five years, for the 
purposes of translation, it is anybody^s 
property, and Mr. Bancroft's special copy- 
right expires in five years. But, in order 
to secure that copyright, after he has dealt 
with Monsieur Sardou, he has to do a 
variety of things. He has to find. out first 
of all when that piece is produced in Paris, 
and within three months exactly, neither 
more nor less to the day, he has to go to 
a mediaeval institution that has outlived its 
time and its functions — called Stationers^ 
Hall — and he has to enter it there. He 
has to make a formal registration some- 
what in these terms. He has first of 
all to state the' name of the play — that 
is natural. He then has to state the 


name and abode of the writer of the play. 
He then has to state the name and abode 
of the holder of the copyright of that play, 
and then he has to state the time and 
place of the first performance. If he has 
done all that within three months, the first 
stage in his international copyright is 
secured, but not altogether secured. If 
there is any informality in that registra- 
tion, it becomes a serious thing. I shall 
show you how serious it is when I tell you 
that the copyright of Gounod's ** Faust'' 
was lost in this country entirely from an 
informality in the initial registration. 
After the registration Mr. Bancroft has 
another three months to complete his 
copyright, and within that three months — 
that is, exactly six months from the time 
of the production of this play — he has to 
have made an utterly worthless produc- 
tion called a literal translation of that 
play. An adaptation of anything — any 
attempt to give a literary flavour to this 
document — is simply fatal. One gentle- 
man, Mr. Sutherland Edwards, thought 


his adaptation of *^ Frou-Frou " would do 
to register instead of a literal translation. 
He found his mistake. He brought an 
action to maintain his rights, and the judge 
said to him, "No, sir; you have to deposit 
a literal translation. This is a play — that 
is not what the law requires." He was 
non-suited, and the copyright of " Frou- 
Frou" was lost in this country in conse- 
quence. Well, at the end of six months, 
if you have registered in the form that I 
have mentioned to you, and deposited the 
literal translation, your copyright may then 
be considered water-tight, and you have 
got the five years' lease of it. But an 
extraordinary thing in connection with this 
international copyright is this : if, instead 
of buying a play from Monsieur Sardou, 
you buy a play from Monsieur OflFenbach, 
your copyright in the words only lasts for 
five years, but your copyright, and the 
author's copyright in the music, if all these 
forms are properly gone through, lasts for 
forty-two years. So that at the end of 
five years you are in this curious position 


— ^you are the sole possessor of the sole 
right of performing the music, but the 
words have gone from you, and can be- 
come anybody else's property — (laughter); 
— and the position of things if reversed 
would be this. We will suppose, for the 
sake of argument, that Sir Arthur Sullivan 
and Mr. W. S. Gilbert have secured their 
French copyright in the *^ Mikado." In 
five years Mr. Gilbert will be dead in Paris, 
but Sir Arthur Sullivan will live for forty- 
two years, or the whole of his life and 
seven years afterwards, as far as his copy- 
right is concerned. 

I do not think I have anything more to 
say, ladies and gentlemen ; and I only 
hope, with these very dry details I have 
had to deal with, that I have kept you a 
little amused. If any gentleman or lady 
has anything to say, I am sure our worthy 
Chairman will be glad to hear it. 

The Chairman : I do not know whether 
Mr. Toole would favour us with some 
observations. I am sure we shall be very 
glad to hear them. 


Mr. Toole : Mr. Chairman, — Mr. Hol- 
lingshead has expressed himself so ably, 
that I cannot add anything. 

Mr. Frank Marshall : Mr. Chairman, 
Ladies and Gentlemen, — I really am very 
averse to being the first to come forward 
after Mr. HoUingshead's able address. 
I feel very much as if I were one of 
the Reserve Forces returning thanks for 
the Army and Navy ; but there are 
one or two points in Mr. HoUingshead's 
address on which I should like to say a 
few words. 

On one he touched very lightly, I think, 
and that is the attitude of the law towards 
the rights of what I may call brain-work. 
I do not know anything which tends to 
give one greater disrespect for the law — 
and there are many things, I regret to say, 
which do tend to give one such disrespect 
— than the utter contempt which the law 
has always shown, during the last two or 
three hundred years, for any property 
which is the work of a man's brain. If 
there is anything to which a man has a 


positive right, it is to that which is the 
product of his own brain-labour. Our 
judges, if any case of this sort is brought 
before them, and the unfortunate author 
is defrauded of his right, always seem to 
roll the case over in their mouths very 
much as an epicure rolls over a glass of 
good wine, or a monkey a nut, with a 
subtle amount of pleasure ; as if it were a 
thing to be proud of, that the manifest 
rights in equity, as I think the phrase is, of 
an author, are eluded by some chicanery of 
that institution which it is their business 
to administer. This complaint is not 
limited to our time, Mr. Chairman. It 
dates back to the time of Shakespeare. 
We all know — at least, most of us know — 
that the incorrect condition of the text of 
several of the plays of Shakespeare simply 
arises from the fact that he would not 
publish his plays, or let them be published, 
so long as he had any acting right in them ; 
because he knew, directly he published 
his plays, any other company of players, 
other than his own, might act them. 


I wish to say one or two words upon a 
point which, I think, is rather doubtful. 
I asked Mr. Hollingshead about it, but I 
have not been able to ask any legal lumi- 
nary his opinion upon this question. I 
believe it to be the law still, that if any 
author publishes a play previous to its 
being represented, all right of representa- 
tion passes away from him. Any common 
thief who likes— I prefer calling him a thief 
— may come and steal that play and act it, 
without giving the author of it any remu- 
neration whatsoever. Many people will say, 
nobody reads plays nowadays. I think that 
is a very great misfortune. The dramatic 
authors in France have this enormous 
advantage, that their plays are published. 
They are not published in any discredit- 
able form — in an ill-printed form ; but 
they are published on good paper, in good 
t)rpe, and are read by educated people. 
I believe there ire several managers here 
who will tell me that, because a play reads 
well, it does not follow in the least that 

it acts well ; but I do not myself believe 



that any really good play that acts well 
can read badly. I think it would certainly 
improve the literary quality of our plays ; 
that even, from one point of view, it would 
be a benefit to the managers themselves, 
if an author could securely print his play, 
and leave the manager to read it, not in 
that execrable invention of some ingenious 
person, called type-writing, but in legible 
print. I think the manager would then 
be able to form a better opinion of that 
play than he could when it is given to him 
in manuscript, or perhaps read, as badly as 
possible, by the author himself. 

As to the right of the novelist to the 
dramatic copjrright of his own work, I do 
not see that there can be anything clearer. 
If the President of the Royal Academy 
exhibits a picture, I never heard it main- 
tained that he lost his legal right of for- 
bidding anybody to reproduce that picture, 
either by engraving or photography.* Why 

♦ Mr. Marshall is mistaken on this point. When 
a picture is sold, if there is no agreement in writing 
with regard to the copyright, it lapses. 



should a man who publishes a novel lose 
all his dramatic right at once in that work? 
It may be that he originally intended to 
write a drama; but, finding either that his 
drama was above the heads of the audience, 
or too long — which is a fault, I believe, 
that some dramas have in their first con- 
dition — he makes it into a novel. If he 
does not go through this — I can only call 
it this tomfoolery business, which Mr. 
HoUingshead has described as the Theatre 
Royal, Stoke Pogis — if he does not have 
tsome version of his novel acted by an 
incompetent company, before an incom- 
petent audience, he loses all right whatso- 
ever in the dramatic portion of his novel. 
It is a very curious fact that most of our 
great novelists are also dramatists. Take 
the late Charles Reade for one ; take thie 
living Wilkie Collins for another. I may 
here mention a very singular fact with 
regard to Wilkie Collins that has come 
under my own observation. He wrote a 
book called the " New Magdalen " — that 
was dramatized by him. He did not go 





through the Stoke Pogis businiess, and the 
consequence was, although the play of the 
** New Magdalen " was acted, although it 
was written by him, and although it was 
produced under his supervision, both he 
and the manageress who produced it lost 
all rights in it ; and anybody may play 
that dramatic version of the ^* New Mag- 
dalen " without paying Mr. Wilkie Collins, 
much less the manageress who produced it, 
a single farthing of money. 

I must say that I think these matters 
are .matters which those who wish to see 
the law of England respected should take 
a little to heart. I do not see why the 
law should surround the pheasant and the 
partridge, to say nothing of the humble 
turnip, with a fence of legal protection, 
and yet that it should leave a man's brain- 
work utterly unprotected, the prey of every 
unscrupulous robber who likes to come 
and steal it, and to palm it oflf as his own. 

The Chairman : Is there anyone else 
who wishes to address the meeting? 
Then, ladies and gentlemen, it remains 


for me to ask you to pass a vote of 
thanks to Mr. John HoUingshead for 
the exceedingly interesting address that 
you have heard from him. 

This motion was then put to the meeting 
in the usual way, and carried unanimously. 

Mr. Hollingshead : Mr. Chairman, 
Ladies and Gentlemen, — I am extremely 
obliged to you for the vote of thanks, and 
I hope that what I have said to-day will 
induce you to help in agitating for a re- 
form of the laws, which I think need re- 
forming as soon as possible. 

The outcome of what I have said is 
somewhat this. I should put these pro- 
positions — that novels, first of all, should 
be protected from unauthorized adapta- 
tion ; then that Stationers' Hall should be 
abolished. I will tell you the reason why. 
It nourishes illusions. A gentleman has an 
idea of a good title for a play or a book. 
He sees " Entered at Stationers' Hall," and 
he goes and enters it there. The clerks 
there will enter anything ; all they care 
about is to take five shillings. They can 


give you no information, probably have 
no information, whether you are too early 
to register, or too late. They do not tell 
you ; they take, the five shillings, and they 
enter it. Now, the law of this country 
does not recognise abstract titles. You 
may have the best idea in the world of a 
title for a book, or a play, or even for a 
fish sauce, but in order to secure a copy- 
right in it you must not only register the 
title, but you must act upon the title. 
That is to say, you must produce your 
play, or your novel, or you must fabricate 
your fish sauce. The result is, all these 
entries at Stationers' Hall are utterly 
useless, and, for the purpose of registration, 
I have no doubt Parkins and Gotto would 
do it for you at one-third the money, and 
equally effectively. 

My other propositions are, that the re- 
gistration ought to be compulsory, and a 
one shilling fee would be quite sufficient. 
I should say a department of the Board 
of Trade would be the best registry office* 
All the books should be open to inspec- 


tion at a small charge. The abolition of 
the literal translation in connection with 
international copyright ought to take place 
at once. The five years' lease that I 
spoke about for adaptations ought cer- 
tainly to be extended to twenty years at 
least, if not to the full term of forty-two 
years, or the life of the author, and seven 
years afterwards. I think you will agree 
with me, ladies and gentlemen, that that 
is not too much to ask. 

I am exceedingly obliged to you for the 
attention with which you have listened to 
my viva voce remarks, and though I may 
have appeared to you to have dealt a little 
flippantly with the subject, I still feel quite 
as earnestly on these questions, I dare say, 
as most of you ; for if I am convinced of 
anything I am convinced of this, that bad 
laws make bad citizens*, and bad citizens 
make a bad country. 

Rev. C. H. Middleton-Wake, one of 
the members of the Council of the Society, 
proposed a vote of thanks to Sir Francis 
Adams for having presided at this meeting 


of the Conference, and referred to the 
good service which Sir Francis had 
rendered to the cause of Copyright during f 

the recent proceedings of the International 
Copyright Conference at Berne. 

Mr. Hollingshead seconded the mo- 
tion, which Rev. C. H. Middleton-Wake 
put in the usual way, and declared to be 
carried unanimously. 

The Chairman : I am sure I am very 
much obliged to you all for the kind way 
in which you have received this vote of 
thanks. I did what the Americans call 
my ** level best" at those Conferences, 
and I think it will be found that the Con- 
vention we signed will remove much that 
has hitherto been objectionable in the i 

matter of International Copyright. I 
think that that ' Convention is the com- i 

mencement of a new era. I can only 
again express a hope that our Govern- 
ment will take the matter up, and that in 
a short time we shall have an amended, 
codified, domestic copyright law. I thank 
you all very much once more. 


Remarks by Andrew TV. TTuer. 

It is, I understand, to the black (and 
whitey-brown) sheep of our calling that 
the attentions of the Authors' Society are 
principally directed, and if — though its 
efforts to turn rogues into honest men may 
fail — it succeeds in placing the relations 
between authors and publishers on a 
sounder and more business-like footing, 
the white sheep will certainly rejoice. 

An agreement between author and pub- 
lisher should be short, and so simply drawn, 
that it cannot be misunderstood. 

Of all methods of publishing, the half- 
profit system is, I think, the most open 
to abuse and the most unsatisfactory. 

The plan of a royalty, both in principle 
and practice, is undoubtedly the best. 



As the prime cost of a book varies 
independently of the selling price, a fixed 
royalty is impossible. One book selling 
at half-a-guinea may cost less to produce 
than another selling at six shillings, and 
the former will naturally bear the heavier 
royalty. The conditions under which a 
royalty is paid are necessarily elastic. 
The royalty system, pure and simple^ 
means that the publisher takes the whole 
risk, bears every expense, and pays the 
author a certain sum on every copy sold. 
An agreement on this basis can obviously 
only be made for a book by a popular au- 
thor, or for one that the publisher feels 
sure will have a remunerative sale. 

In regard to a book by an unknown 
writer, which the publisher thinks may 
possibly do fairly well, he can bargain, as 
a set-off against his risk, and in order to 
have abetter chance of getting back his 
costs out of pocket, that he shall not pay 
any royalty until a certain number of copies 
have been sold. Supposing that a MS- 
be offered of so feeble or uninteresting a 


nature that failure is almost a foregone con- 
clusion, then there may reasonably be a sti- 
pulation for the payment of a sum of money 
towards covering the cost of production. 

** The cost of production " is a very 
elastic term. To begin with, I affirm that 
there is an obligation on a publisher that 
he should treat a MS. as if it were his own 
property, and do the best he can with it, 
for the client is undoubtedly entitled to the 
benefit of the publisher's experience. 

Mr. Besant has told me a perfectly true 
story of an impulsive young poet paying a 
shark of a publisher some hundreds of 
pounds for an edition of some thousands of 
•copies of his verses, not fifty of which were 
ultimately disposed of, and most of those 
went to friends. For the sake of illustration 
let it be supposed that the MS. of that 
golden youth's poems is purchased outright. 
How would the publisher go to work? He 
would have the type set up and would 
instruct his printer to work off a small 
edition, say a hundred copies. The pub- 
lisher would feel his way. Should the 


poems sell freely, reprints from standing 
type would be struck off as required, and 
the book would not be allowed to go 
out of print until the public had ceased 
to ask for it. Produced in this way, the 
publisher's **cost of production'* of a 
book that — as in the case cited — turns 
out to be a dead failure amounts but to a 
small sum. 

The royalty system is not only, I think, 
the fairest but the one in which cheating 
is the most difficult. The necessity for 
producing vouchers for the cost of paper, 
printing, binding, and advertising ceases, 
the one loop-hole for dishonesty being that 
the publisher, in collusion with his printer, 
may dispose of a greater number of copies 
than he declares. An agreement could 
perhaps be so worded as to make a false 
declaration on the part of printer or pub- 
lisher a criminal oflFence. 

As to a book — of which this volume is 
an example — produced by a publisher who 
is his own printer, the double safeguard is 
of course impossible, and the author must 


perforce be content with the declaration 
of the publisher. 

The only absolute safeguard to the 
author is the separate signing and num- 
bering of every copy of his book. A 
client had a clause to this eflfect inserted 
in an agreement entered into with my 
firm, but when in due time the edition — a 
good load for one of Pickford*s vans — came 
to be surveyed, he was utterly appalled 
at the magnitude of his self-imposed task, 
and promptly made default. 

Twenty-five per cent, is generally under- 
stood to be the trade allowance on books, 
but, if this were literally true, discount 
booksellers who take off three pence in 
the shilling could not live. A bookseller 
in a large way of business is tempted to 
give a good order to a publisher by the 
offer of special terms, which mean extra 
discount, and very often extra credit, with 
perhaps a renewal of bills when they arrive 
at maturity. If special terms are not offered^ 
booksellers will often refuse to stock, and 
will tell the travellers that they can do 


better with so-and-so's books, so that pub- 
lishers compete with each other not only 
in the nature of their wares but in the 
prices at which they sell them. 

Between seller and publisher come the 
wholesale book houses, who supply book- 
sellers only, and they must have their 
profit. There is plenty of cutting in the 
**Row,'' and transactions are not unknown 
at five per cent, profit. 

The fact is, that when full allowance is 
made for the usual publishing commission 
of ten per cent., and for discounts, loss of 
interest on long credits, and renewals of 
bills, as well as for bad debts, the publisher 
receives, when his accounts come to be 
made up, a mere fraction over one-half 
the face value of a book; that is, for a 
book published at a shilling he eventually 
gets about sixpence. 

That there are publishers who are also 
booksellers does not affect the question. 
The greater portion of an edition of a 
book must pass through the hands of the 
trade, and the extra profits obtained fcy 


the publisher-bookseller on copies sold at 
full price he is legitimately entitled to, 
otherwise he might as well shut up his 
shop. Sales to the public by publishers 
who are not booksellers are so few and 
far between as to be practically not worth 

In regard to advertising, the author may 
control it himself, or his publisher may 
see to it for him. The cost of setting up 
an advertisement on a slip of a size that 
could go into an ordinary envelope, and 
printing two ' hundred and fifty or five 
hundred copies, is but a few shillings. If 
the author undertake the advertising, he 
will use these slips on his rounds to the 
newspaper ofiices and for judiciously dis- 
tributing as occasion may oflfer. If his 
publisher undertake it there should be a 
clause in the agreement to the eflfect that 
no advertisements are to be issued ex- 
cept with the author's written authority, 
and the names of the newspapers and 
magazines selected, and the total amount 
to be expended should be mentioned. In 


place of vouchers — often difficult to pro- 
duce or identify where many books are 
advertised together — the publisher should 
agree to provide a list of dates when the 
advertisements appeared. 

A final word as to the amusing puflfs 
one sometimes sees as to the *4iberality *' 
or '* generosity '* of publishers. The true 
motive of extra payment or double fees 
from a publisher to a writer whose MS. he 
has purchased, and whose book has proved 
a phenomenal success, is selfishness pure 
and simple. The publisher wants the suc- 
cessful author's next book, and he takes 
the best means to get it. He knows that 
a second and unexpected cheque on his 
bankers, to a man to whom kvSoq is 
something, but bread and butter usually a 
great deal more, is the best paying invest- 
ment he can make. Would that the op- 
portunity came oftener ! 

The Leadenhall Press ^ E.G, 


Letter by George M. Smith. 

To the Editor of The Times, 

Sir, — The statements bearing upon the 
relations of authors and publishers, made 
at the two recent conferences arranged by 
The Incorporated Society of Authors, the 
leading articles in The Times^ and other 
important journals, and the letters which 
have been written by Mr. John Murray, 
Messrs. Longmans, and other publishers, 
indicate that the subjects discussed at the 
conferences have excited a considerable 
amount of public attention; and some 



at least of these statements are of such a 
character that they should not be allowed 
to remain unanswered. 

An accusation was deliberately made by 
Mr. Walter Besant, at the first meeting, 
and repeated by Sir Frederick Pollock at 
the second meeting, that it is the custom 
of publishers to render fraudulent accounts 
to authors. It is true that various speakers, 
including Lord Lytton, in the chair, Mr. 
Walter Besant, and Sir Frederick Pollock, 
disclaimed antagonism to publishers. But 
no disclaimer of this kind can be weighed 
for a moment against a direct accusation 
of dishonest dealing, levelled, not against j 

particular individuals or transactions, but 
against publishers and their transactions 
generally. It. cannot be doubted that the 
accusation goes this length, for Mr. Besant 
expressly speaks of these nefarious pro- 
ceedings as " a custom,'' and Sir Frederick 
Pollock generalizes in like fashion. 

This accusation, in so far as it affects the 
large majority of publishers, is, I venture 
to say, absolutely unfounded. That there 


are publishers who are guilty of dishonest 
practices must be admitted. It would 
indeed be impossible to find any con- 
siderable body of men, in any calling oi 
life, to whom the same observation might 
not with equal force be applied ; but it is 
unusual, and seems unfair, to raise general 
charges upon the strength of exceptional 
cases of misconduct. 

That the imputation has been made 
rashly and ignorantly is sufficiently obvious 
when it is considered in the light of the 
remedy suggested. It is asserted that 
publishers make '* secret profits " on the 
cost of producing a book and are enabled 
to do so by the circumstances of their 
rendering accounts, the items of which are 
not properly vouched for, and it is in 
substances contended that if publishers 
were to be called upon to produce vouchers, 
authors would be protected. Both Mr. 
Besant and Sir Frederick Pollock seem to 
be unaware of the incontrovertible fact 
that no publisher could refuse* to produce 

* See p. 177. 



vouchers for the items of an account 
furnished to an author. The publisher 
must either be the partner or the agent of 
the author, and in either character is bound 
to verify his accounts. If he were to refuse 
to do so, an author would only have to 
apply to his solicitor, who would obtain 
satisfaction for him by a very simple legal 
process. As to Lord Lytton*s statement, 
that the author who seeks legal advice 
will find that the subject is " so entirely 
outside' the ordinary experience of solicitors 
that no honest solicitor would venture to 
give him advice respecting the manage- 
ment of his contracts, or the making up of 
publishers' accounts,'* it is really too as- 
tounding, and may be left to speak for itself. 
Messrs. Longmans appear to have been 
so much impressed with Mr. Besant's 
remarks at the first conference, as to have 
hastened, in the interval between the first 
and second meetings, to assure him that 
they would in future adopt the practice of 
giving vouchers for accounts ; and this 
announcement was received with cheers at 

mm J — 


the meeting, and has since been referred 
to in the Press as an important step in the 
direction of curing a serious evil. Mr. 
John Murray and Messrs. Macmillan and 
Co., on the other hand, in their letters to 
The Times have confined themselves to 
pointing out that their books, accounts and 
vouchers have always been open to 

The true meaning of Messrs. Longman^s 
letter cannot be very clearly gathered 
from Sir 'Frederick Pollock's reference to 
it, but the accepted interpretation would 
appear to be that it is their intention in 
future to accompany accounts rendered to 
authors with vouchers for each item. If 
that be their intention, their oflfer certainly 
has the appearance of being a step in 
advance of the present system ; but as a 
means of permanently removing the atmos- 
phere of suspicion which, however unjustly, 
appears to surround publishers' accounts, 
the plan seems to me to be illusory. It 
may be pointed out, to begin with, that a 
voucher gives no information beyond what 


is, or may easily be, contained in the 
account. It is simply evidence. Moreover^ 
the mere fact of a publisher seeming to 
think it necessary to satisfy an author that 
he is not robbing him, would be calculated 
to occasion a feeling of discomfort on both 
sides. And much as it may surprise some 
of the gentlemen who, during this con- 
troversy, have expressed their opinions of 
the relations between authors and pub- 
lishers, it is nevertheless a fact that there 
are many authors who would feel hurt at 
a course of proceeding which would seem 
to imply a want of confidence on their 
part, and would request their publishers 
not to continue to trouble them with 
vouchers. It is my belief that this cus- 
tom, which must be more or less cumbrous 
and troublesome, would, even if at first 
generally adopted, gradually fall into dis- 
use, and vouchers would only be supplied 
when asked for — which is exactly the 
present condition of affairs. 

While holding the opinion that any 
general alteration is unnecessary, and that 


the only alteration that has been proposed 
is illusory, I regard it as intolerable that 
publishers should be subjected to these 
charges and insinuations ; and it seems to 
me that the choice of every publisher who 
agrees in that view really lies between two 
alternatives. He must either relinquish 
all business involving the rendering to 
authors of accounts containing items of 
expenditure, which would obviously be 
prejudicial tcr the interests of both authors 
and publishers, as excluding a mode of 
publication which is admitted to be the 
most appropriate in a large number of 
cases, or he must devise some mode of 
making up and rendering his accounts 
which will, once for all, remove any 
: possibility of doubt or question ; and this 

f ' I believe to be practicable, as I will 

endeavour to show. 

The system indicated in the appended 

pro formd account should not only give 

suflScient security to satisfy any author 

against fraud on the part of his publisher, 

but would also insure to him certain 


advantages derived from a system of cash 
payments. The particular statement which 
will be found in this account as to the 
payment of each item, with the exception 
of such small matters as cannot be particu- 
larized or separately paid, is absolutely 
distinct and unqualified. It is impossible 
to conceive of any publisher venturing to 
render an untrue account in such a form, 
and I need not enlarge on the serious 
consequences to which he would render 
himself liable by doing so. If any author 
has a doubt on this point, his solicitor will, 
I think, pace Lord Lytton, have no diffi- 
culity in solving it. 

The subjoined pro formd account is 
applicable to a book published on the 
half profit system, but accounts of books 
published on commission might, of course, 
be kept on a similar principle. 

The attack made upon the publisher 
does not, however, stop short at accusa- 
tions of fradulent account-keeping. He 
is also assailed, in regard to the purchase 
of copyrights and the payment of royalties. 



more difficult than to foresee the reception 
which a book will meet with ; and it is 
notorious that many of the most successful 
books have been offered to several pub- 
lishers before being ultimately accepted. 
If a publisher could calculate with any- 
thing like certainty on every book yielding 
him even the most moderate profit, his 
business would no doubt be lucrative. 
But, in fact, a large number of every 
publisher's speculations involve a loss ; 
and on striking the average of his gains 
and losses, an excessive profit is most 
certainly not left to him. 

I affirm, without hesitation, that the 
average profits of publishers do not repre- 
sent more than a moderate return upon 
the capital employed in their business, and 
that this return is only to be earned by 
great labour and continuous risk. 

To the suggestion of Mr. Besant that an 
author, before accepting an offer from a 
publisher, would do well to consult the 
Society of Authors, there can be no 
possible objection from a publisher's point 


So much for the charge of unfairness. 
In regard to the imputation that a publisher 
does not " push " commission books, it 
shows an ignorance of the internal arrange- 
ments of a publisher's warehouse, which is 
very naturally to be expected from those 
who make the charge. It is practically 
impossible for a publisher to deal in one 
manner with one book, and in another 
manner with another book. During my 
experience of more than 40 years as a 
publisher, I have frequently heard the 
expression "push '^ in connexion with the 
sale of a particular book, but I have failed 
to understand it in that sense. I doubt if 
those who use it, in the sense in which it 
is used by Mr. Besant, could define its 
meaning. What a publisher can do to 
promote the sale of a particular book, in 
addition to what he does for all his 
publications alike, must be done by a 
liberal expenditure of money for advertis- 
ing, and so forth ; and it need hardly be 
said that a publisher would be quite as 
willing to expend an author's money as his 
own, if the author desired it. 


With regard, however, to the publication 
of books on commission, it is, I think, 
open to doubt whether this mode of 
publishing does not produce a large num- 
ber of books which, for the sake of the 
authors and the public, had better not be 
printed at all. It is my belief that this, or 
some cognate system of publishing involv- 
ing no risk to the publisher, has produced 
the larger number of disappointed authors, 
and is in a great measure responsible for 
the outcry that has from time to time been 
raised against publishers. By these remarks 
I must not, however, be understood to 
contend that, for various special reasons, 
the publication of books of a valuable or 
popular kind on commission may not 
sometimes be desirable. 

On the whole I believe that where it is 
not important to an author to receive an 
immediate pecuniary return for his work, 
the half-profit system yields the greatest 
certainty of a fair division of profit between 
the author and the publisher, of course 
provided that the publisher's accounts 



are faithfully made up and rendered. 
This mode of publication is especially 
appropriate for medical, legal, and other 
works requiring frequent revision by the 
author. The appropriation of one- half of 
the profits to the publisher may at first 
sight appear unduly favourable to him ; and 
undoubtedly in the case of a book certain 
to have a large and rapid sale, they are too 
favourable ; but in ordinary circumstances 
such is not really the case. In the first 
place the publisher takes upon himself 
the risk of loss, which, as I have already 
pointed out, is very far from being nominal. 
In the second place, he supplies all the 
capital for the venture, and manages all 
the business details of the publication. 
Finally, it must always be remembered 
that, while the payments to the author 
represent clear profit, the publisher's share 
of the profit has to bear a certain propor- 
tion of the general expense of conducting 
his business, and must therefore be subject 
to a very considerable deduction. These 
few last words must equally apply to the 


apparent profits of publishers, on every 
transaction, and from whatever system of 
puhlication they may be derived. 

I am, Sir, 
Your obedient Servant, 


15, Waterloo Place, 

March 21, 1887. 


Pro FormA Account of a Book Published at the 

Price of 143. 

1885. Dr. 
Amount of Messrs. A. B. 6* Co.'s ac- £ s. d. ;^ s. d. 

count for printing 1,500 copies ••• 106 9 4 

Less discount alio wed for cash payment, 

8 per cent. ••• ••• ••• ••• 8 10 4 

Cash paid to Messrs. A. B. 6* Co. on 
Jan. 12, 1886, by cheque on Messrs. 
— 6* Co. ... 97 19 o 

Amount of Messrs. C. D. 6* Co.'s ac- 
count for paper ... ... ... 60 15 9 

Less discount allowed for cash payment, 

5 per cent ... ••• ... ... 309 

Cash paid Messrs. C. D. 6* Co. on 

Aug 10, 1885, by cheque on Messrs. 

6* Co. ... ... ... ... S7 ^S o 

Amount of Messrs. E. F. 6* Co.'s ac- 
count for binding 1,350 copies ... 43 4 o 

Less discount allowed for cash payment, 

6 percent. ... .•• .. ••• 2 11 10 
Cash paid Messrs. E. F. 6* Co. on 

Feb. I, 1886, by cheque on Messrs. 

— — 6* Co ... ... ».. 40 ^2 2 

Amount paid for advertisements as per 

accompanying list, showing the ac- 
tual cost of each advertisement (less 

discount where allowed) with the 

date of its appearance ... ... 65 4 6 

Postages, printing trade circulars, 

carriage of copies to author and 

friends, proportion of paper and 

printing catalogues, and newspapers 

containing reviews, 6'c 3 5 10 

Allowances to cover extra discounts al- ^"4 ^^ 

lowed to agents, wholesale book- 
sellers and exporters, 5 per cent, on 
amount of sales ... ... ... 30 i o 

Interest on cash advanced, 5 per cent. 13 4 10 

""43 5 10 

1886. 308 2 4 
June 30. Balance, half to author, carried forward 131 9 4 

Balance, half to publisher 131 9 4 

262 18 8 

1886. S7I I 

Oct. t. To cash, per cheque ... .••• ... 131 9 ^ 

3. Number of copies printed 
Presented — 
To public libraries 
To author and friends ••• 
To editors aod others — 

Leaving sold as under »• i>2&5 

(as copies as !*) 
At trade sale sooas ig2 at gs. 4d. 
To trade, Src. 1,065 33 1,023 3' 1°^- S 

y half bakince, brought forward 


i 1 

J la 

• Allowances, 6-c. 1 

. 4J S 

• Interest on cash advanced ) 

43 1 

^305 ■■ 

1 4 

^ISO 3 

* [ am Dot at all sure about these 

charts, especially the latter, 

see p. I So. 

£ s. 

Proceeds ot book 

. 571 I 

Alleged cost of production 

■ 3S0 3 



. £iio IS 

Half to author, j^iio 90 

Half to publisher, no 9 o, together with 

the secret profits. 


So that by the addition of lo per cent, 
and the suppression of the discounts, 
the pubUsher on the "half profit" system 
has made by the book ^^152 9s. to the 
author's ;^iio 9s. That is to say the 
author has made only two-thirds of what 
the publisher has made. And observe that 
this is no fancy sketch. 

W. B. 


Remarks by Geo. Haven Putnam. 

I had read with much interest the 
reports of the Addresses made at the 
Authors' Conference, and was very ready- 
to meet the courteous suggestion of my 
friend, Mr. Besant, that I should add to 
this pamphlet a word as to the publishing 
methods in vogue in the United States. 

The relations of authors with their pub- 
lishers, and the effective management of 
literary property, are certainly matters of 
no little importance, and it is assuredly 
most desirable and proper that authors 
should, by putting their heads together, 
secure the full advantage of their joint 
wisdom and of their joint experience. 

One difficulty which occurs to me, how- 
ever, in connection with such co-operation, 


is the risk of unprofitable misapprehensions 
on the part of certain members of the 

In Trades Unions of Mechanics, it is 
fair to assume, for purposes of contracts, 
that one master carpenter or one master 
mason is about as good as another, and is 
in position to demand as favourable terms 
for his work. 

In the profession of authorship, how- 
ever, the grades of '* goodness '' (using 
the term strictly in a commercial sense as 
standing for capacity to do remunerative 
work) vary enormously. 

The author of the book which involves 
^*no risk to the publisher," because ten 
thousand copies can be sold at once with- 
out any special effort, so far from being a 
normal person, fitted to form any example 
for average calculations is, to put it frankly, 
a very exceptional creature indeed ; he is 
always being looked for by the publisher, 
but he forms but a small percentage of 
the writers with whom the publisher comes 
into relations. It is natural enough that the 


author of the '* Children of Gibeon " should 
think of ten thousand copies as a proper 
and usual first sale for a book, but it is 
certainly the case that if the majority of 
writers should base their expectations and 
their publishing propositions upon any such 
calculations, they would incur no little 
disappointment and waste of time. It is. 
also certain that if such figures as these 
were to be used by the Authors' Society 
as a **fair average" upon which to base 
estimates of publishing profits, and upon 
which to formulate claims for a readjust- 
ment of such profits, no little injustice 
would be done, and the main objects of 
the Society would not be furthered. It 
is, it seems to me, less possible for authors 
than for almost any other class of pro- 
ducers to " pool their issues/' and to 
formulate any uniform claims, the purpose 
of the work, the quality of the work, and 
remunerativeness of the work, of each 
author being so varied. 

It is, of course, however, a truism to- 
say that each author is in any case entitled 




to justice, and it is possible enough that 
in a number of instances fuller knowledge 
and joint effort may secure larger results 
for "authors* profits'* than have heretofore 
been obtained. 

I judge, as well from what Mr. Besant 
says as from my own previous knowledge, 
that an important cause of such difficulties 
as have arisen between English authors 
and their publishers is the want of 
explicit and comprehensive publishing 
contracts. The remedy for this difficulty 
must certainly rest with the authors them- 
selves, as there is no reason why they 
should not insist upon securing as explicit 
a contract for the publishing of a book as 
for the building of a house, whether they 
are investing in the book cash capital or 
** only brains and time.** In the States, it 
would certainly be a most exceptional 
thing for the publication of a book to be 
undertaken without a contract covering 
all the usual contingencies, the publishers 
considering such contract as important for 
their own interest (to save them from un- 


ecessary friction) as for the interest of 
leir clients. 

English authors should not overlook 
le importance of having inserted in their 
^ntracts an explicit provision concerning 
le disposition to be made of receipts ac- 
ting from American editions of their 
Doks. Instances have, within the past 
w years, been brought before the public 
F publishing arrangements which were so 
ague in their terms, that the English 
Liblishers have considered themselves 
istified in appropriating, without notice 
) the authors, amounts paid by the firms 
suing the American reprints, while the 
jthors have made public complaint of 
le ** piratical action '' of said American 
rms in "republishing without payment.'* 

In the absence of any word to the con- 
ary, the American publisher has the 
ght to assume that the firm issuing the 
Inglish edition is the authorized agent of 
le author, and to make his payments 
:cordingly, leaving the question of the 
isposition of the amounts paid to be 


settled according to the provisions of the 
author^s original agreement. 

One evidence that American authors 
are, as a rule, satisfied with their pub- 
lishers, is the fact that it is the exception 
where all the works of one author, or at 
least all of his works of the same character, 
are not to be found on the catalogue of 
one house. To the same publishers who 
have issued the first book of an author 
are confided, with rare exceptions, his 
succeeding works. 

In England, on the other hand, the 
books of many of the best authors are 
scattered among the lists of a number of 
diflFerent publishers, and there have been 
instances of an author's employing as 
many publishers as he had books. The 
increased difficulties in management, waste 
of advertising, loss of sales, and other 
disa3vaftt4ges which are caused by such 
distribution of an author's works are very 
considerable, and the conclusion is inevit- 
able that, rightly or wrongly, the English 
authors must frequently believe they have 


ounds for dissatisfaction, or they would 
)t be always endeavouring to "better 
leir condition." 

The "profit-sharing" system which 
ems to be responsible for a large portion 
" the dissatisfaction, is very little in use 
ith American authors and publishers, 
he principle of such a system appears to 
5 sound, but its equitable application is 
ddently a matter of no little difficulty. 
The principal objections to such system 
e that it necessitates no little additional 
erical labour in the keeping and in the 
ndering of accounts, and that it entails 
ore risk of misunderstanding with the 
ithor than is incurred under any other 
iblishing method. 

Under a " profit-sharing " plan, the 
ithor, who has, as a rule, no familiarity 
ith the details and requirements of book 
anufacturing, has submitted to him from 
df year to half year, statements purport- 
g to show what it has cost to print first 
id subsequent editions of his book, and 
itting forth the other expenses of putting 




it upon the market. He either, in the 
strength of his faith in the statements of 
his publisher, accepts as correct the figures 
submitted, or he possibly attempts to 
verify these figures by securing quotations 
from other printers and binders. In the 
latter case, he may easily mislead himself^ 
and do injustice to his publishers by 
having quoted to him figures which really 
stand for a diflferent and an inferior class 
of work — work with which his publishers 
would not have been willing to associate 
their imprint, and with which he himself 
would not have been satisfied. There are 
a great many ways in which a book can be 
printed, and it is of course all essential 
that any figures which are compared shall 
certainly refer to exactly the same thing. 
If an author decides to have his book pub- 
lished on the half-profit system, it will in 
any case usually be wiser for him to have the 
figures of cost submitted to him in advance, 
in the same manner as if he expected to 
assume the entire outlay, and he will then 
know what he has to expect. 


The author may also find diflficulty in 
understanding why it has been necessary 
to sell the larger portion of his edition at 
special rates to the distributing houses, 
having started with the assumption (from 
which even so old an author as Mr. Besant 
has not freed himself) that the publisher 
always received for his books not less 
than two-thirds of the retail price. In 
fact, I have had to do so with intelligent 
authors, who based their own preliminary 
calculation of profits on the assumption 
that the publishers always received, for 
books sold, the full retail price. 

The cost of rebinding volumes which 
have been sent out to the dealers "on sale," 
and have been returned unsold and dam- 
aged, and various similar items which 
come up in the necessary work of selling 
(or of trying to sell) a book, are also 
puzzling, and altogether there are so many 
details in connection with which explana- 
tions are called for, that the publisher may 
easily under such ian arrangement, for books 
which do not make a brilliant success, 

1 63 

expend in valuable time much more than 
his share of the possible " profits." It is 
doubtless for considerations of this kind 
that American publishers have, in the 
majority of cases, arranged to pay their 
authors by royalties, or to compound such 
royalties by the purchase outright of the 

For by far the greater number of the 
American works which are issued at the risk 
and expense of the publisher, the author's 
compensation is paid in the shape of a 
royalty of ten per cent, of the retail price. 

The question is occasionally raised 
whether the profits from these sales of 
any particular work do not permit a larger 
rate of royalty than this customary ten per 
cent. If I were an author, I should be 
inclined to take the ground that this rate, 
which doubtless represents an average be- 
tween what is just practicable on the less 
successful, and what is fully earned by the 
more successfiil books, sometimes works 
injustice to the authors whose works sell 
well, for the benefit of authors the sale of 



whose works is inconsiderable, although, 
curiously enough, it is from the latter class 
that such complaints as arise are most fre- 
quent. The principal outlays in getting a 
book upon the market are made in con- 
nection with the first five thousand, or the 
first ten thousand copies. When the sale 
has passed the point of say five thousand 
copies, and the book is still in steady de- 
mand, the profits on the sale of subsequent 
thousands are larger, and on these latter a 
somewhat higher rate may properly be 
paid. An author whose books are of such 
a character as to secure (without the 
necessity of issuing them in paper form at 
a mere manufacturing profit) a continued 
sale extending over ten thousand copies, 
is usually in a position to arrange for a 
higher than the normal rate of royalty. 

If, however, the work is fiction, and it 
is considered desirable, for the sake of 
competing with the cheap reprints of 
foreign works (I am speaking of course 
here only of American conditions) to 
issue it in paper form, the margin of profit 


becomes, as a rule, too inconsiderable to 
permit paying the author anything more 
than ten per cent., and on such volumes 
there often remains for the publisher, 
after the copyright has been paid, con- 
siderably less than ten per cent. 

This rate of ten per cent, of the retail 
price has been arrived at as a fair average 
royalty, on the calculation that it repre- 
sented about one -half the net profits 
remaining after the cost of the printing, 
advertising, and putting the book upon 
the market had been covered. As a fact, 
however, the ten per cent, represents less 
than half the net profits of a volume se- 
curing a large sale, while it represents 
more, and sometimes much more, than 
half the profits on a volume the sale of 
which is inconsiderable. If the royalty is 
paid on all copies sold, and the sale is less 
than one thousand copies, or for a low- 
priced book, or an illustrated book, less 
than two thousand, or two thousand five 
hundred, there is (for American publica- 
tions) a loss instead of a profit — a loss 

1 66 

which is, of course, increased by the 
amount of any royalty paid to the author. 
If, therefore, more than ten per cent, 
should be credited on the sales of success- 
ful works (and there are cases in which 
such higher rate is certainly equitable) 
less than ten per cent, ought to be credited 
on the books which just pay for them- 
selves, or which produce a deficiency. For 
the deficiency-producing books the authors 
are, in fact, properly entitled to no com- 
pensation from the publishers. Payment 
for work cannot be made in proportion to 
the extent of the public demand for it ; 
and if the book earns nothing, the author 
is properly entitled to nothing for its 
production. A first book, therefore, which 
must usually be an experiment, ought not 
to receive copyright until enough copies 
(in the States, usually one thousand) have 
been sold to return the first cost. When 
a profit has been secured, it would then 
be in order to pay royalty also on the first 
one thousand. 

It is also the case that ten per cent, of 


the retail price represents, under American 
methods of trade, a larger proportion of 
the net price received by the publisher 
than is the case with an English work. 
The great extent of the territory which has 
to be reached in order to bring a book before 
the American public, causes the outlay for 
travelling salesmen, for freight, for adver- 
tising, press copies, etc., to be much 
heavier than in ^England, and results also 
in the distribution of much larger portions 
of the editions throughjthe jobbing houses. 
These latter purchase their large supplies 
of many current books at from fifty-five 
to fifty per cent, off the retail prices. The 
discounts given to jobbing houses have in 
late years steadily increased, and during 
the season of 1886, for a larger proportion 
of their sales, than ever before, the pub- 
lishers received the lower net prices named. 
For books so sold the author's royalty, 
therefore, is twenty per cent, of the 
wholesale price, and is often more than 
half the net profit. 

Under the royalty system, the author 


1 68 

has, in connection with books in which he 
has made no investment, no concern with 
the figures of cost of manufacturing, adver- 
tising, and distribution. He is interested 
only in knowing how many copies have 
been printed and how many sold, and on 
such a point he is of course entitled to 
just as explicit information as he would 
receive from his stock-broker concerning 
the sale of debentures. 

The accounts of sales rendered by my 
own firm specify in detail how many 
copies have been printed from half-year to 
half-year of each volume, and what has 
been done with these copies. The copy- 
right records at the desk of the copyright 
clerk, and the printing and binding records 
at the desk of the stock clerk, are always 
open to the inspection of authors, and give 
all the data required for the verification 
of these accounts of sales. 

For books published **on commission '* 
(that is at the author's risk and expense) 
the author receives in the first place, under 
our system, a specific estimate showing 

, . 


the cost of the edition desired, printed in 
the style of some model submitted. 

Before a contract is entered into, it is 
expected that the author, if beginning 
business with the firm, will compare this 
estimate with figures submitted by other 

If he secures lower figures elsewhere, 
and is satisfied that the quality of the 
work is the same, and that the imprint and 
distributing facilities of the other house 
are equally good for his purpose, he ought 
of course not to place his work with the firm 
first applied to. Such estimates ought in 
any case, however, always to include a 
commission for the use of the publishing 
imprint, and for the labour and skill re- 
quired to supervise the manufacture of 
the books, and this commission will 
properly be higher in the case of some 
publishers than of others, there being a 
material difference in the value of pub- 
lishing imprints, and a difference also in the 
manufacturing and distributing facilities 
possessed by the different firms. 



I see no reason why, for a book published 
on joint account, estimates as precise 
should not be submitted in advance (with 
vouchers later for any supplementary items 
of expense) as for a book published 
entirely on author's account. 

Joint profit accounts should certainly 
include no " hidden profits," but ought to 
include, as above, an openly charged com- 
mission for the use of publishing service 
and of bookmaking skill. It is to be 
borne in mind that under the usual half- 
profit system the author shares the profits, 
if any accrue, but does not agree to share 
the loss in the event of a deficiency. 

The author's investment of labour is 
offset by the publisher's investment of 
capital, and the time and skill contributed 
by the latter in seeing the book through 
the press (to say nothing of the tact often 
required to keep unruly authors from re- 
writing the volume in proof, and thus 
ruining the joint account by the expense 
of "extra corrections") should be com- 
pensated by an openly charged commission. 


An international copyright will, when 
finally brought about, have a good eflFect 
on the relations between publishers and. 
authors, and also in reducing the selling 
prices of good books. 

It is of course certain that when authors 
can control, for their material, the markets 
on both sides of the Atlantic, they will be 
able to secure larger returns, whether 
these come to them in the shape of fixed 
payments, or of royalties on increased 
sales. The publishers on their part will 
be in a position to pay these larger sums 
to authors, and basing their calculations 
on larger sales, will also be able to give 
to the public decently printed books at 
the lowest possible prices. All parties at 
interest, except a small group of ** re- 
printers" (English and Canadian, as well 
as American) who now get a living out of 
^* appropriated '* literature, will, therefore, 
be benefitted by an international copyright. 

It is perhaps not out of order here to 
refer to the fact that the leading publishers, 
English and American, are doing, and have 


for years been doing, what is in their power^ 
while waiting for an international copy- 
right to be established, to supply its place 
by international arrangements, which are,, 
with a few exceptions, respected by all 
reputable firms, and which serve to secure 
for authors, on both sides of the Atlantic, 
proceeds from the trans-Atlantic reprints 
of their works. 

An experiment has recently also been 
tried by my own firm in the direction of 
securing the protection of American copy- 
right for works by English writers who 
have consented to accept American ** col- 
laboration," and the plan has thus far 
worked successfully. All such arrange- 
ments can, however, at best be but 
makeshifts, which must not be permitted 
to relax in any degree the eiforts now^ 
being made to bring about, at the earliest 
date possible, such measure of international 
copyright as shall secure the fullest pro- 
tection and the largest returns for the work 
of both English and American writers. 


Summary by TValter JBesant. 

The success of these Conferences, of 
which the foregoing is the Report, was in 
many respects far beyond anything hoped 
for by the projectors. 

An animated correspondence began 
after the first Conference in every one of 
the London daily papers, with leading 
articles on the subject. As regards the 
letters, they were for the most part written 
by publishers, and were manifestly intended 
to turn aside the public attention from the 
two main points which my own paper 
was especially designed to bring into pro- 
minence, viz. : — 

I. The existence of a wide spread 
system of making secret profits by 


fraudulent returns of the cost of 
production. Nothing could be more 
significant than the wrigglings of the 
writers about this point. One man, 
indeed, boldly confessed the fact and 
denied not. 

2. The 'ease and safety with which 
such frauds may be practised, in con- 
sequence of the custom of withhold- 
ing vouchers. 
These letters, again, were mostly based 
upon imperfect information, and without 
any means of seeing my paper, which is 
now for the first time published. The re- 
porters were supplied with a few copies of 
the first uncorrected proof, marked ^* private 
and confidential,'' but the paper itself has 
not been seen by anyone. It was handed 
by me after the Conference to Mr. Alex. 
Gait Ross, the Hon. Secretary, and has 
been kept by him at the Society's offices 
until he sent it to the printers. I again^ 
however, assert in the most unqualified 
terms (i) That many publishing houses 
systematically falsify their accounts in order 


to make a secret profit not in the agree- 
ment ; (2) That such a system is fraudu- 
lent ; (3) That the withholding of vouchers 
makes it possible ; and (4) That there can 
be no reason at all, except the desire and 
intention to defraud^ for the withholding 
of vouchers. 

One letter, however, stood out among 
the rest, and was remarkable because it 
did not try to evade the main point of 
the paper— the question of secret profits. 
It was the letter of Mr. George Smith 
addressed to the Times : it represents the 
views of a publisher long and honourably 
connected with the trade : and I suppose 
that it still continues to represent his views, 
though I have publicly contradicted some 
of the statements in the letter, because 
Mr. Smith has inserted the letter among 
the advertisements in some of the maga- 
zines. Since, however, it represents the 
views of a well-known publisher it is 
reprinted here. 

The letter appears to be based upon an 
imperfect knowledge of my paper; it 



makes statements which I cannot accept ; 
it puts into my mouth things which I did 
not say ; it draws conclusions to which I 
cannot agree ; and it leaves my main 
question unanswered. 

Thus Mr. Smith charges me with saying 
that all publishers make secret profits and 
render fraudulent accounts. I said no such 
thing. I said that a '' custom had gradu- 
ally sprung up.'' I repeat the words. If 
I had said that a custom of intemperance 
had gradually sprung up among us would 
Sir Wilfred Lawson charge me with ac- 
cusing him, personally, or the whole nation, 
of drunkenness? The * imputation,'* as he 
calls it, is not made *' rashly and lightly," 
but solemnly, seriously, and with full 
knowledge of the facts. We are in pos- 
session of facts which enable us to name 
nearly every publishing firm in London 
which pockets secret and fraudulent profits. 

Again, Mr. George Smith says that 
vouchers are always produced when asked 
for. I maintain the direct contrary. 
Hitherto it has been considered insulting 



to demand voucKers and they have been 
generally refused. Only the other day I 
heard a case in which a publisher flatly 
refused to show vouchers. Every pub- 
lisher's letter which appeared in the papers 
testified to the rage and bitterness with 
which this mention of the production 
of vouchers was received. Why, Mr. 
George Smith himself actually holds it 
** intolerable '* that publishers should *^be 
subjected '^ to these demands. As if pub- 
lishers alone among mortals are to have 
their accounts passed without examina- 
tion ! As if they alone are to refuse to 
show those portions of their books con- 
cerning the joint enterprise ! As if the 


solicitor is to have his costs taxed, the 
manager of a company his accounts au- 
dited, every tradesman's bill to be checked 
and proved, and the publisher, alone of 
all mankind, should be publicly acknow- 
ledged as the one Honest Man, the 
Unique, and the Only ! 

Again, I did not charge publishers with 
keeping back " commission *' books. I said 


-which is perfectly true^-that there is a 
ide-spread suspicion that they do this, 
id that the suspicion increases the ill- 
eling which exists towards publishers, 
his is a very diflferent thing. Does Mr. 
eorge Smith deny this ill-feeling? If 
s does, I should be glad if he could 
^erhear the conversation on any day 
hen authors meet and when the talk 
ims upon publishers. 
Mr. Smith raises, as all publishers always 
3, the cry of risk. I repeat, therefore, 
hat I said in my paper, that with a very 
Tge number of books there is no risk 
hatever. For every subject there is a 
srtain public ; in every subject there are 
jthors by the dozen whose name on the 
tie page is enough to remove the least 
jar of risk. I dp not say that publishers 
ever incur risk : quite the contrary, 
hey sometimes do ; in those cases they 
re right in making special arrangements : 
vrery time they buy a book, for instance, 
ley may incur risk, because, though a 
ook may be certain to pay the expenses 















of production and something more, nobody 
knows 'exactly how much more that may 
be. But how many publishers do buy 
books? Perhaps there are half a dozen 
Houses at most, not counting the firms 
which produce children's books, goody 
goody books, and religious stories — things 
bought for a five pound note apiece* 
Therefore I put my question again, 
** Where there is no risk, what share in 
the proceeds of a book should be given to 
the publisher ? Mr. Smith has not an- 
swered this question at all, except by 
talking about risk. 

Where, however, we have to thank Mr. 
Smith is for the Form of Account, which 
ought to be useful for comparison by all 
of us. I have appended the same account 
fraudulently treated^ also for comparison* 
The Society of Authors is able to inform 
every one of its members whether an ac- 
couiit as sent in is fraudulent or not. As 
for Mr. Smith's statement that the pro- 
duction of vouchers would not stop cheat- 
ing, that is in a sense true, but it would 


make it more difficult to cheat, because it 
would necessitate accomplices in the shape 
of printers, binders, and paper makers, all 
of whom would have to sign receipts for 
sums they had not received — a proceeding 
which would bring them within measur- 
able distance of Bow Street. 

As regards the Form . of Account ren- 
dered by Mr. George Smith, the following 
extract from the Law journal is not 

without interest. 

"The form of account supplied by Mr. George 
Smith last week " as applicable to a book published 
on the half-profit system " contains charges against 
the author which would not hold water in a court 
of law. The best feature of the form is the detail 
with which it gives the dates of payments out of 
pocket and the commissions or discounts allowed ; 
but what Mr. Smith gives with one hand he takes 
away with the other. Having carefully allowed 
the partnership the discounts, he as carefully takes 
them back to himself in the form of the item 
" interest on cash advanced, 5 per cent.," the cash 
advanced being the money paid out of pocket, and 
the interest on it coming to within a pound of the 
sum credited to the partnership for discounts. The 
theory is that the publisher lends the money to the 
partnership, and therefore may charge interest for 


the author, and is bound to show his accounts and 
vouchers on demand. The same obhgation lies on 
the publisher who publishes on commission in virtue 
of his character as the author's agent. The author 
has only to demand inspection of the vouchers and 
accounts from his publisher, and, if the publisher 
refuse it, to issue a writ in the Chancery Division 
indorsed . for an account, whereupon, by the Rules 
of the Supreme Court, a summary order " for the 
proper accounts, with all necessary inquiries and 
directions, shall be forthwith made, unless the 
defendant by affidavit or otherwise satisfy the judge 
that there is some preliminary question to be tried." 
Should the inquiry satisfy the author that his sus- 
picions were groundless,- he will still be entitled to 
his costs, as the publisher failed to give him the 

information to which he was lawfully entitled ; and 
he has all these rights without the special agreement 
for producing vouchers which Mr. Besant suggests, 
and as a necessary incident of the legal relation 
between him and his publisher. In the light of 
this simple piece of knowledge, authors may usefully 
combine by employing an inspector of accounts^ skilled 
in the current prices^ who may be hired at a moderate 
fee from the Society by any member desiring to bring 
his publisher to book^ 

It is fair to say that the statement in the 
above paragraph that the publisher is the 
partner of the author has been disputed by 


Other legal authorities — notably Copinger. 
In the ordinary, not the legal and technical 
sense of the word, the publisher is of 
course the partner of the author in the 
half profit system. 

Next, as regards the royalty question. 
In the year 1878 evidence was given before 
the Royal Commission by Mr. Herbert 
Spencer, and I think by others, in which 
Mr. Spencer assured the Commissioners 
that after deduction of expenses his royal- 
ties had amounted at times to 38 per cent. 
This is a strong corroboration of my state- 
ment that in the case of a successful six 
shilling book, the publisher can on a 
twenty per cent, royalty gain as much as 
the author. 

We are very pleased to publish the 
remarks of Mr. Andrew W. Tuer and of 
Mr. G. H. Putnam. Those of the former 
are valuable, especially in the last para- 
graph which shows the common sense of 
the whole matter. Mr. Putnam's remarks 
are based chiefly on the American system 
of publishing. It appears that American 

publishers are ahead of ours in having 
already adopted clear and distinct agree- 
ments. It does not appear, however, that 
these agreements have been submitted to 
authors' counsel for approval. I am at 
issue with Mr. Putnam in one point : he 
says that publishers should be compensated 
for time, skill, ^c, by an openly charged 
commission. The word commission opens 
the door to every kind of fraud. Let us 
have done with it, and substitute in its 
place a fee openly charged and demanded, 
and regulated according to the character 
of the work. 

The position taken by me in my 
paper was acknowledged at once by many 
publishers to be impregnable. Messrs. 
Longman Es" Co. were the first to offer the 
production of all vouchers ; they were 
followed by Messrs. Bentley iff Son, Chatto 
tf? Windus, Field y Tuer, Macmillan y 
Co., John Murray, and perhaps one or two 
more whose names I have forgotten. Our 
best acknowledgments are due to these 
gentlemen for their readiness in accepting 




the principle. Authors will doubtless note 
the Houses where no trouble will be raised 
when the vouchers are asked for. 

In conclusion, the movement which has 
been started is not going to be allowed to 
drop. Its aims are all summed up in the 
simple question which I put before the 
audience and which has not yet been 
answered, " Where there is no risk, what 
share in the proceeds of a book should be 
given to the publisher f " 


AoconnU, 141-141, iso-ijj 

Acntunti, should be opcD to ioapection, ]o 

Adiertising, 133-134 

Agreements, 117 

Americui PaTinenta, isS 

Authors, helpkble and unhelpable, 70-TS 

Author's reUtEoDs with publishers, iS-ii 

Berne Conference, 46-51, 87-89 

Books, risk in production of, ll-ll 

Boyse, Samuel, 7071 

Commission system, 35, 143, 147, 177-178 

Collaboration between English and American writer*, 171 

Comparison of English and American publishing lyitems, 159 

IMscounts, 167 

Ettimates, 169 

French sjstem of publishing, JJ 

Half-proGt system, IJ7. l6o-l6i 

How the sale of a book is advanced, 38-39 

Literature, remuneration of, 8-9 

" Never Too Late to Mend," case of, 96-97 

Novel, unauthorised dramatization of, 90-I06 

Novel, remedy for unauthorised dramatization of, 109-1 1 1 

Production, cost of, 15, 30, 1I9-130 

Publishers, case of, 37 

Publishing syatema, 130 

Do. methods of, other than purchase and half-profit 
syttem, all different fonni of r^vlty ij>st«m, 3 1 

Fiuhiag > book, nym, 146 
Risk in book, iss, 178-179 
Royalty, 145, 165-166 
Royalty aystcm, 127-128 

Do. reipeclivc profits of autlion and publishers, 31-34 

Do. do. do. France, 34 

Secret profits, 137, 173-I74 
Selling, special rates, [61 
Society of Authors, future of, 43-46 
Do. function of, 9-14 

Do. objects of, Sl-81 

Soci£t£ des Gens de Lettrcs, 76-81 
Stationers' Hall, 114 
Terms that would satisfy autbon, 40-41 
Trade discounts, 131-133 
Vouchers, 130, 176.177 

Do. never furnished, 16 

Do. production of, 138-140 


Field & Tuer's List, 

Xx%i * IZea^ettgaff + Hw^e* 

so, lSai1>StKHc^LL ST'RSST, S.C. 

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origiaal blocks, hand-coloured — used by our grandmothers when 
young. The costumes of adults and of chil^n at their games, 
&c., are very quaint and amusing. Dame Wiggins OF Lek has 
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THE BAIRNS' ANNUAL: for i887-8. Edited h? Auci 

CORKUH. IllmtratedbyMTi. MiCKjLiiciELjtweoH). LONDON: 
Field & Tner. Tbe LeidenluU Preai, E.G. [Oue SbiUing. 

Full of good things by good writers. 

MODERN MEN. By A Modehn Maid. Gontirts: The Deay 
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TRISTRAM SHANDY. By L*urbhcr siBKNa. With Sii un- 

publiBbed IllnMrations in agnstint. printed direct frotn tho nngiM] 

CDpper-plales, engraved in i8ao: and an Inlroductoir Note by Johh 

OLDcisi!.a. LONDON: Field fr Tner, The Lewlenhill Press, E.G. 

[Siiteeo- Pence. 


THE SEASONS. By J*«bs Tkoksok. With Fonr Illnstrations 

and «lr» Portrait printed direct from the origmal copper-pUtes, en- 

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LONDON: Field & Tuer, The Lesdenhall Press, E.C. r.Siileen-Ponce 

Having no more original copper-plates of a suitable character, 

the publishers regretfully announce that they unable to further 

continue this series. The two preceding issues are Sir Charlet 

GrimdisM and SalomOH Gessncr. The four make a handsome 

and interesting volume. (Sup. 6 sf this Calalegut.) 

THE MOTHER : Thb Woman Clothid WITH thb Sun, 

Part tbe Second. LONDON Field* Tner, The LeadenluU Press, 


Br P. DlUHUOMD NiBLiti. LONDON: Field «> Tnu, The Ludea- 
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The Rev. B. W. L. DAVIBS, M.A. 
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(. i > 

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( 4 ) 

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C S ) 



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THE PERFECT WAY ; or, The Finding op Christ. (Now 
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( 6 ) 

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( 7 ) 


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