How was it, that the sheets of the unsold copies of the 1882 reprint of Oscar Wilde's Poems (originally published in 1881) survived until they could be used for the 1892 signed and limited edition that was issued by Mathews and Lane?
How many publishers stored these sheets? Were copies bound by them and delivered to the trade? Impossible to answer. Hold on, for a long and complex bibliographical - and biographical - tour.
Wilde's bibliographer Stuart Mason (C.S. Millard) traced most of the bibliographical facts about Wilde's books that we still have to rely on. Publisher's archives of David Bogue (the original publisher) or James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co. (who sold the remaining sheets to Mathews and Lane) have not survived. But there is one letter by Oscar Wilde that explains the last stage of the transfer, while other sources shed light on what went on at the beginning.
What Mason knew
Mason didn't know about the part played by Osgood, McIlvaine & Co. He suggested that the sheets were handed over to Mathews and Lane by Chatto & Windus. He based this on a reference in the English Catalogue for 1881-1889 (see his Bibliography of Oscar Wilde, 1914, p. 316). This refers to The English Catalogue of Books. Vol. IV. January 1881 to December 1889 (London, Sampson Low, Marston & Company Limited, 1891, p. 618):
[Wilde] (Oscar) […] Poems, post 8vo, 10s 6d [...] Chatto 1881.
This reference induced Mason to conclude:
|The English Catalogue of Books. Vol. IV. January 1881 to December 1889 (1891)|
In August 1882 Bogue, the publisher, became bankrupt, his stock being taken over by Messrs. Chatto & Windus of Piccadilly. In the English Catalogue for 1881-1889, vol. iv, p. 618, Chatto is given as the publisher of Wilde’s Poems, though no copy was issued with the firm’s imprint.
What Mason couldn't have known
However, a letter by Oscar Wilde, undated, but postmarked 21 November 1891, proves the involvement of another publisher, James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co., Wilde's previous publisher (for Intentions, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories, and A House of Pomegranates). Wilde wrote his new publisher Elkin Mathews that he would ask Osgood, McIlvaine & Co to transfer the sheets of Poems to him, after he discussed the fee that Ricketts should receive for his design ('on its completion'):
This settled, I will ask Osgood & McIlvaine to hand you over the copies, and the book could be got out after the rush of Xmas books is over.
Why Osgood & McIlvaine would have possessed these sheets is another matter. Perhaps, they acquired them on behalf of Wilde who might have considered issuing a new edition of his poems with them. However, there is no archival material to support this suggestion.
The American publisher James R. Osgood did some business with David Bogue in the early 1880s.
This is why scholars such as James G. Nelson (and others after him) asserted that Osgood & McIlvaine acted as 'successors of the firm of David Bogue'. Legally, and chronologically, that cannot be corroborated, as Bogue went bankrupt in 1882, James R. Osgood in 1885, and Osgood, McIlvaine & Co came into existence in 1891. There is no continuity there. Another firm must have possessed the sheets of Wilde's Poems in the meantime, but it wasn't Chatto and Windus.
Why not Chatto & Windus?
The name of Chatto & Windus in the normally trustworthy English Catalogue was based on an error, going back to the first reference of Wilde's Poems at the time of its publication in July 1881. The English Catalogue acquired its data from the reliable, contemporary source The Publishers' Circular. In the list of 'Books published in Great Britain between July 1 and 15' in The Publishers' Circular of 15 July 1881 (p. 555) the new book, published by David Bogue, was erroneously ascribed to Chatto & Windus:
Wilde (O.)-Poems. Post 8vo. pp. 240, 10s. 6d. Chatto [3170
This was an uncommon mistake, and one that was copied by other trade periodicals, such as The Bookseller of 4 August 1881 (p. 703):
|The Publishers' Circular (15 July 1881)|
Wilde (O.) Poems. Post 8vo, pp. 240. Chatto & Windus ... [...] 10/6
The typist added the name of Windus, but didn't correct the error. In the 'Alphabetical list of the principal publications for the month of July, 1881' the misguided information was given.
|The Bookseller (4 August 1881)|
The name of Chatto & Windus might have been correct, if they acted as distributor for David Bogue, whose firm was a small one, located at 3, St. Martin's Place in London, near Trafalgar Square. However, both book magazines, The Bookseller and The Publishers' Circular, published David Bogue's announcements under his own name, never mentioning the other firm in any case.
|The Bookseller (4 August 1881)|
David Bogue didn't correct the error, or, his notice to that effect remained unpublished.
Who was David Bogue?
David Bogue (1852-1897) was the son of David Bogue (1807/8-1856), a bookseller and publisher. Bogue senior came from Scotland to London to work for Charles Tilt (1797-1861) at 86, Fleet Street. He became his partner in Tilt and Bogue (1841-1842), and continued the shop as David Bogue (1842-1856). His major star was George Cruishank, whose works he published, although some of these failed to sell. The shop was continued for a few years after his death in 1856, but by 1862 the stock had been taken over by several other publishers. (See Robert L. Patten's biography of David Bogue in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.)
David junior was too young to have seen his father at work as a bookseller or publisher, or even the shop, and how he started life as a bookseller and publisher is not known. In 1876, he operated as a publisher under the name of Hardwicke and Bogue, located at 192 Piccadilly, W., the former shop of the artist and publisher Robert Hardwicke (1822-1875). Bogue continued this business, and a 'Hardwicke and Bogue's List' appeared in The Times of 8 February 1877. It contained popular works on disparate subjects, such as Half-Hours with English Antiquities, and The Historical Development of Art. Until 1879, books under this imprint were being published.
In 1879 Bogue moved to 3, St. Martin's Place in London. A list of his books - 'Mr. David Bogue's List (late Hardwicke and Bogue)' - was published in The Times of 26 September 1879. It advertised books on wild flowers, ferns, sleep and sleeplessness, 'common mind troubles', and the like.
Why Oscar Wilde opted for David Bogue
Why would Oscar Wilde have approached David Bogue as a publisher for his book of poems? There were not many literary works - but still a few - that appeared with David Bogue's name on the title page. Between 1879 and 1882, Hardwicke and Bogue and David Bogue published some works by Samuel Butler (1835-1902).
After Wilde had brought his book to Bogue, the poet Walt Whitman found that Trübner and Co didn't want to publish his Leaves of Grass in London. A friend of Whitman, Josiah Child, advised Bogue to him instead (letter from Walt Whitman to Josiah Child, 8 December 1881). His American publisher at the time, James R. Osgood, agreed, and on 14 December 1881, Whitman wrote to Bogue as his 'London agency & depository'. James R. Osgood may have been one of the creditors of David Bogue after his bankruptcy, and this might explain how Osgood got hold of the sheets of Wilde's book. If that is what happened.
However, the sheets were probably not transported to Boston where James R. Osgood's firm was located. Perhaps they were stored somewhere in London, with a colleague publisher, but it may be assumed that the unbound sheets were stored at the premises of the original printer of the book, the Chiswick Press, and left in the care of the printer. Osgood's firm went bankrupt in 1885. Osgood went to work for Harper's Magazine, and, later, in 1891, started the new business with Clarence McIlvaine: James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co. No continuity here, either.
Wilde's biographer Richard Ellmann, asserted that Wilde opted for David Bogue, because his Oxford friend Rennell Rodd (1848-1941) published a book of poems with Bogue:
Rodd had set him an example by publishing his first book of poems with a small house, David Bogue, and in April 1881 Wilde wrote to Bogue expressing a similar wish.
(Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde (1987, p. 131).
However, Wilde's books appeared early July 1881, while Rodd's book Songs in the South was announced to be 'Just published' in an advertisement dated 23 July 1881 (The Athenaeum, 23 July 1881, p. 124). So Rodd's book was published after Wilde's book had been issued.
Rodd's book was advertised in The Times of 30 August 1881, at the top of 'Mr. David Bogue's List', and was immediately followed by:
|The Athenaeum (23 July 1881)|
Crown 8vo., price 10s. 6d., printed on Dutch hand-made paper and
handsomely bound in parchment.
POEMS. By OSCAR WILDE. Second Edition.
Apart from chronology, there is the one surviving letter of Oscar Wilde to David Bogue to consider. It probably dates from May 1881, and is now in the collection of Newberry Library in Chicago. The letter doesn't mention Rodd's name, or any other intermediary. Wilde writes: 'Possibly my name requires no introduction.' He doesn't say why he wants his book to be published by Bogue, only: 'I am anxious to publish a volume of poems immediately, and should like to enter into a treaty with your house about it.' (The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, 2000, p. 110).
A 'Memo of Agreement between Oscar Wilde and David Bogue' for the publication of Wilde's Poems, signed by both, was dated 17 May 1881 (and sold at auction by Sotheby and Co. in their sale of 15-17 December 1930). [The Memorandum of agreement is now at the William Andrews Clark Library, Los Angeles, CA.]
Famously, Wilde would edit and publish a new edition of Rodd's book - now with an introduction by himself - during his American tour: Rose Leaf and Apple Leaf (October 1882).
Bogue's advertisements for Oscar Wilde's Poems
Bogue's advertisements were not published in The Publishers' Circular, that was dominated by the large firms, such as Cassell & Co., Sampson Low, Marston, and Co., George Routledge and Sons, and Macmillan & Co. The Bookseller sometimes noticed his new publications, for example, J. Mortimer Graville's How to Make the Best of Life (The Bookseller, 4 July 1881).
|The Bookseller (4 July 1881)|
Bogue's advertisements did appear in the London Times and in The Athenaeum (possibly in other newspapers as well), not on a regular basis as the larger firms could afford, but occasionally. In 1881, the readers of The Athenaeum, could find advertisements of 'Mr. David Bogue's publications' in the issues of 8 January, 12 February, 18 June, 2 July, and 17 December 1881. The Athenaeum was one of the first to notice Wilde's book of poems in a page-long review, published on 23 July 1881. (The Lady's Pictorial of 9 July had published the earliest review.)
|Review of Oscar Wilde's Poems in The Athenaeum (23 July 1881)|
Advertisements for Wilde's Poems appeared in the issues of 2 July and 17 December 1881. The first announcement was made on 2 July.
|The Athenaeum (2 July 1881)|
The text indicated that the book was available:
Now ready, crown 8vo, price 10s. 6d.
POEMS. By Oscar Wilde.
Printed on Dutch Hand-made Paper and Handsomely Bound in Parchment.
A similar, smaller, advertisement appeared in The Times of 7 July 1881.
Interestingly, in The Athenaeum, Wilde's first book was announced as an aesthetic object, just like the 1892 edition would be. Hand-made paper, a vellum binding, and a premium segment price. The July advertisement lists 30 books, half of which are priced between one and five shillings, and nine were priced 10 shillings and 6 pence, or higher, up to 15 shillings. Wilde's Poems wasn't a cheap book. However, it sold rather well. On 17 December 1881, another advertisement by Bogue announced the 'Fourth Edition' as 'In the press.' Another book, also printed on Dutch hand-made paper and bound in parchment, Hamilton Aidé's Songs Without Music was to be had for a mere 6 shillings. (For relevant information on the price, and the publication contract signed by Bogue and Wilde, see Ian Small's introduction to The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Volume I, Poems and Poems in Prose, 2000, pp. xiv-xv.)
|The Athenaeum (17 December 1881)|
Meanwhile, the third edition had been announced as 'in the press' in The Publishers' Circular of 1 November 1881 (this would be repeated in the issue of 14 January 1882), and in The Times of 27 September 1881, while the second edition, as quoted above, had been advertised earlier in The Times of 30 August.
|The Publishers' Circular (1 November 1881)|
An advertisement in The Athenaeum of 20 May 1882 listed the 'Fourth Edition' of Poems among the books that had been published.
|The Athenaeum (20 May 1882)|
David Bogue in 1882 and 1883
Alas for David Bogue, the year 1882 brought him bankruptcy, and his name started to appear in The London Gazette on a regular basis. The Gazette would be quoted every week in The Bookseller, warning booksellers not to get involved with publishers or booksellers whose business was dwindling, and to stimulate alertness when it came to one's debtors.
On 28 April 1882, The London Gazette informed the public that the 'Partnership' between David Bogue and Benjamin Constant Le Moussu was dissolved on 2 March. Bogue had been in business with Le Moussu under the name Le Moussu & Co. Le Moussu was a firm of 'etchers in relief, photo engravers and photolithographers', located at 317, Strand. Not much is known about the relation of Bogue and Le Moussu. They worked together on the Dramatic Notes. An Illustrated Yearbook of the London Stage, for which, it was stated, a 'new relief etching process' was used.
From The London Gazette, we learn that Bogue lived at 21, Taviton Street near Gordon Square in London.
On 4 August 1882, the Gazette mentioned that 'in the Matter of Proceedings for Liquidation by Arrangement or Composition with Creditors' a 'First General Meeting of the creditors' of David Bogue was summoned to take place at the offices of Lawrence, Plews, and Baker on 31 August. On 15 September a trustee was appointed, William Slingsby Ogle: 'All persons having in their possession any of the effects of the debtor must deliver them to the trustee, and all debts due to the debtor must be paid to the trustee.'
The Times of 1 August 1882 reported what was brought before Mr Registrar Murray: 'The debts were returned at ￡18,600, of which about ￡7,400 appeared to be secured, and the assets, inclusive of securities in the hands of creditors, were estimated at ￡18,000.' The Bookseller was more personal and wrote on 5 August: 'Mr. David Bogue, we regret to hear, has been compelled to present a petition for liquidation [...]'. The magazine informed the readers about the next stages of the liquidation as well.
A year later, on 27 April 1883, The London Gazette published a note by the trustee, asking all those 'who have not already proved their debts' to get into contact with him, else 'they will be excluded from the benefit of the Dividend proposed to be declared'. The dividend was settled on 12 July, and published in The London Gazette of 13 July 1883: 'First and Final Dividend of 3s. 1½d. in the pound'. By then, the stock including the unbound sheets of Wilde's Poems must have been sold, but to whom we cannot ascertain.
The London Gazette would list Bogue's name and that of his new trustee (Peter Paget) in several issues (9 October 1885, 5 March 1886, 23 April 1886, and 31 May 1889). From this, we learn that Bogue had left his original address and moved (an address that is also given by Philip A.H. Brown in his London Publishers and Printers c. 1800-1870 (1982); the move was announced in The Publishers' Circular of 15 November 1884.) In fact, two addresses are mentioned, the second one being to the south west of London:
27, King William-street, Strand, Middlesex,
and Cobham, Surrey
In 1886 the amount per pound was settled at '3s'. In 1889 the trustee was released from his duties.
The end of David Bogue
After his bankruptcy, Bogue continued his business, under the same name, and surely under the watchful eye of the trustee, at 3, St. Martin's Place. In the winter of 1882, a new magazine was launched by him: The Theatre (announced in The Publishers' Circular of 6 December 1882). On 1 May 1883 The Publishers' Circular informed the booksellers that the Antiquarian Magazine and Bibliographer 'now published by Mr. W. Reeves, 186 Fleet Street, will be published by Mr. David Bogue, St. Martin's Place, W.C.'
In the fall of 1883, the Aberdeen Weekly Journal (28 November) reported on the 'Magazines for December', and briefly discussed The Science Monthly that 'continues the excellent features of its first number'. In May 1884 another issue was reviewed in Trewman's Exeter Flying Post. It was published by David Bogue. In 1884 an issue of The Antiquarian Magazine, published by Bogue, was mentioned in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (26 January).
Bogue continued to issue new books as well. In 1883 a sumptuous volume on The Organ-Cases and Organs of the Middle Ages and Renaissance by Arthur George Hill was published by Bogue - the second volume was to be privately printed for the author in 1891. Another imposing publication was announced in The Publishers' Circular for 6 December 1883, the Christmas issue: 'Mr. David Bogue announces a biographical sketch of Henry Irving by Austin Brereton, with seventeen full-page portraits by well-known artists, a volume which can scarcely fail to please the numberless friends of the great actor.' Among the artists was James McNeil Whistler, and apart from the imperial octavo edition, 'A few Large Paper copies, on Hand-made Paper, with Proofs of the Illustrations on India paper' were published at four guineas.
|Arthur Groge Hill, The Organ-Cases and Organs of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (1883)|
In 1884 his name appeared on the title page of J.M. Farrar's Mary Anderson (see The Publishers' Circular, 1 October 1884) and of Austin Brereton's Some Famous Hamlets (see The Sunday Times, 9 November 1884). Poetry continued to be an interest of the firm. Henry Davison's Poems appeared in 1884, and in 1885, Mark André Raffalovich's Tuberose and Meadow-Sweet was published by David Bogue. It is remarkable, that among the poetry publications of David Bogue, at least three names of prominent homosexuals figure: Wilde, Whitman, and Raffalovich.
|The Publishers' Cicrcular (6 December 1883)|
Around the time that Raffalovich's book of 'uranian' poetry was published, the name of Bogue disappeared from sight. During the early nineties, no trace of him has been found. But his life ends dramatically, as the Daily Mail reported on 28 October 1897.
In the bulletin Bogue is called a 'London journalist', who 'was on the staff of the Daily Graphic'. Bogue had been travelling to Monte Carlo, and Paris, before he went to stay at the Royal Pavilion Hotel in Folkestone. There, 'the body of a well-dressed man was found on the beach at Folkestone on Tuesday morning'. He was drowned. That was on 26 October 1897, and Bogue must have been around 45 years.
Conclusion: What do we know?
We know that the sheets that were used for the 1892 edition of Wilde's Poems were handed to the publishers by Osgood McIlvaine & Co on the request of the author, Oscar Wilde.
We know that Chatto & Windus had nothing to do with it.
We know that the assets of David Bogue, including the unbound and unsold sheets of Poems were sold before the dividend was decided upon. We don't know to whom.
What can be assumed?
At the time of Bogue's bankruptcy, the sheets of the remaining copies of Poems were probably stored at the printer's. David Bogue wouldn't have stored unbound sheets, no publisher did (unless he had a print shop at his own premises).
The printer was the Chiswick Press, a firm that printed more books for David Bogue, including a book about organs of which the first volume was published by Bogue after his official bankruptcy, and the second volume was privately printed by the author ten years later. Both volumes were printed at the Chiswick Press. The Chiswick Press stored hundreds of parcels of sheets for publishers.
When Oscar Wilde found a new publisher in the early 1890s, and wanted to publish several books in a short period of time, Osgood, McIlvaine & Co was obliging.
Wilde may have traced the leaves at the Chiswick Press, or the Chiswick Press may have discovered the sheets while doing an inventory, proposing to make money from them, and sold them to Wilde's new publisher. The last option seems, to me at least, the most probable - the reason being that Wilde's position had changed dramatically after the publication of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
[Perhaps, a researcher could examine the papers of the Chiswick Press to find out if this can be right.]
In conclusion: the sheets were stored by the Chiswick Press, and transferred to Osgood, McIlvaine & Co, before they were used by the Bodley Head for the 1892 edition of Poems.