The National Era
G[amaliel] B[ailey]
Washington, D.C.: 14 July 1853


LONDON, June 24, 1853.

  . . . I have lately learned some interesting particulars in relation to the republication of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and other American works. Mrs. Stowe's novel was reprinted in May, 1852; two months were required to get it in circulation; during July and August it had a fair run, which rapidly increased till it reached its height in November: since then the demand has declined. Clark, Beeton, & Co, an enterprising London firm, have issued six editions, comprising an aggregate of 597,000 copies. About the same number has been printed by other publishers here, making an aggregate of nearly 1,200,000 copies—a circulation larger than ever attained in the same time by any work in England, native or foreign.

  It is worthy of remark, that the two most successful works of the year in the English market have been "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and "The Wide, Wide World," both American, and both by women, both the first novels by their authors. Miss Wetherill's book was reprinted here before Mrs. Stowe's, but had no considerable circulation, as I am informed, till the latter had aroused the public mind. It has now a circulation of 300,000. The Pickwick Papers, in their day, hardly reached a fifth of this; but the world did not then go so much by steam as it does now. The next most successful book is the "White Slave," by our countryman, Hildreth, three editions of which have been issued by the firm named above, numbering 200,000 copies.

  In an editorial, written a few weeks before I left Washington, I ventured the assertion that the great success in England of Uncle Tom's Cabin, had acted favorably for the American literature, by contributing to open the foreign market, and to stimulate the demand for its productions. I am glad to find myself sustained by facts. There now lies before me a printed catalogue of new works, just published by Clarke, Beeton & Co., from which it appears that, since the first republication of Mrs. Stowe's novel, in May, 1852, they have reprinted twenty-eight American works—twenty-eight American Literary Works reprinted in London by a single firm, in one year! They told me that they did very little in this line before the appearance of Uncle Tom's Cabin, but since then, people have been on the lookout for American commodities. Of course they have rivals in this kind of enterprise. The truth is, the people demand a cheap literature; our publishers, taking advantage of the absence of an international copyright, have undertaken to satisfy the demand by cheap reprints of foreign literature. The English publishers begin to follow the example. Having ascertained that there is such a thing as an American literature, they are giving shilling editions of its production to the English public.

  In the catalogue of American reprints referred to, I notice "Clovernook," by Alice Carey; "Dollars and Cents," by Amy Lathrop; "Parisian Sights and French Principles, seen through American Spectacles;" several volumes, by Edgar A. Poe; "Political Atheism," by Dr. Lyman Beecher; "Nil Notes of a Howadji;" Headley's "Old Guard of Napoleon;" "Reveries of a Bachelor;" Herbert's "Cavaliers of England;" "Pictures of European Capitals," by W. Ware and others; several volumes by the author of "Sunny Side;" Poems by Longfellow and Whittier; "Uncle Tom at Home," by F. C. Adams; "The Cabin and the Parlor," by Thornton S. Randolph; "Senator's Son," by Meeta Victoria Fuller, &c., &c. . . .

G. B.