Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Clarkes of Paternoster Row – Part 2

[1] London: The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times, Saturday, 24 September, 1892, p.193, issue 1634.

by Robert Kirkpatrick

Part 2 – Charles Henry Montague Clarke and the Bogus Societies

On 14 June 1892 five men appeared before Bow Street Magistrates in London charged with fraud. They were all connected with a series of bogus literary and artistic societies, and vanity publishing companies, which fleeced gullible members of the public by taking subscriptions and fees for publishing their work, but giving very little in return.

The five men – Sir Gilbert Edward Campbell, Bart., Charles Henry Montague Clarke, William James Morgan, David William Tolmie and Edwin Sherwin – were later joined in the dock by two others, James Sidney Tomkins and William Nathan Steadman. Little is known about five of these men, but the first two, Campbell and Clarke, do have an intriguing history, explored later.

Steadman later found notoriety as a “bad” poet, using the name of William Nathan Stedman and self-publishing six volumes of poetry and essays between 1907 and 1916. More importantly in his book Sonnets, Lays and Lyrics (1911) he accused the former Prime Minister, William Gladstone, of being both Jack the Ripper and the Great Beast foretold in the Book of Revelation. He also claimed to have turned down the offer of the post of Poet Laureate, made after Alfred Lord Tennyson’s death, even though the offer came with “a premier’s daughter and £30,000.” [Sources: British Library – Untold Lives Blog; New Statesman.]

The frauds began in 1873, when Morgan and Tomkins established the Charing Cross Publishing Company, operating out of 5 Friar Street, London, which also became the home of The Charing Cross Magazine, The London and Brighton Magazine, The St. James’s Magazine, the London and Provincial Literary Society, the Eminent Authors’ Association, the National Artistic Union, Berners Gallery Limited, and the Church and State Association. The Charing Cross Publishing Company was superseded by the City of London Publishing Company, again started by Morgan and Tomkins. Other organizations which came and went included the Authors’ Alliance, the Berners Street Gallery Company, the Artists’ Alliance, the International Society for Literature, Science and Art, and the International Union of Literature, Science and Art. Some of these became public companies, offering a dividend of 8 per cent a year, thereby drawing in a number of people who bought shares and became directors or board members.

These various organizations had a bewildering range of addresses, the fraudsters renting a property (providing each other with glowing references) but paying little, if any, rent, being evicted, and immediately finding a new address. Amongst the addresses noted during the Bow Street and subsequent Old Bailey trials were 5 Friar Street, Broadway; 64 Bernard Street; 59 & 60 Chancery Lane; 9 & 10 Southampton Buildings; 70 Wardour Street; 20 York Buildings, Adelphi; 8 Raeburn Street, Brixton; 39 Great Marlborough Street; 22 Talgarth Road; 9 Prince of Wales Road; 8 Barnards Inn; 64 Berners Street; and 39 & 40 Temple Chambers.

9 & 10 Southampton Buildings and 59 & 60 Chancery Lane were, in fact, the same building but with different entrances – one witness told the Old Bailey that she followed Tomkins out of the office in Chancery Lane and saw him re-enter it through another entrance round the corner.

At a subsequent hearing at Bow Street on 21 June 1892, Sherwin was discharged, the prosecution accepting that he was a legitimate employee of Morgan and Tomkins, insofar as he had paid a fee of £100 to secure a post of secretary, and that he had remained in post in the hope of recouping his money. He was later called as a prosecution witness. Other prosecution witnesses told a similar story – for example, William Russell Locke, who applied for a paid post with the International Union of Art, Literature and Science. To quote the Publishers’ Circular of 9 July 1892:
In April 1891 his attention was directed to an advertisement for an assistant secretary. He applied for the post. In reply he received a letter saying he would be required to pay a premium of £50 for the appointment, which was described as a lucrative one. His duties would be to write at least 300 letters per week. Witness subsequently saw Steadman at the office of the Society in the Adelphi, and Steadman introduced Morgan to him as the curator of the Society. Morgan guaranteed that his salary would not be less than £150 for the first year, and an agreement was then entered into by witness, who paid a bonus of £50 for the appointment. For about four weeks witness was regularly paid his salary by Steadman, but after that he was unable to get his salary, and the excuse given was that Steadman was away ill. He afterwards sued Steadman for arrears of salary, and obtained judgment against him in default of appearance.
Witness afterwards saw Morgan and Steadman at York Place, Adelphi, and the latter paid him a few pounds on account of the judgment against him. Morgan then informed him that Steadman had nothing further to do with the Society, having been asked to resign by the council. Morgan reengaged witness to write letters for the Society at a salary of £1 per week and 15 per cent commission, and under this arrangement he continued to write letters up to April of the present year, when he asked Morgan to take his name off the prospectus. During the twelve months he was connected with the Society witness received about £51 salary and commission, just £1 more than the premium he had paid.
The letters Locke wrote were soliciting membership and subscription fees. Other people who were employed by one of the bogus societies as a secretary or assistant secretary were supposed to have been paid a basic salary plus a commission based on the responses to their letters, albeit after paying a fee or premium by way of security, or the purchase of a bond or an investment. Almost invariably they received payments for a few weeks but these then stopped.

Alongside the bogus societies ran a fraudulent publishing business. The Times of 12 July 1892 reported the evidence of James Saundells, a schoolmaster from Manchester, who in 1885 sent some poems and a play to the City of London Publishing Company:
Soon afterwards he received a letter intimating that the reader employed by the company had reported favourably on the poems, and stating that the company would be willing to publish them in book form to sell at 6s per copy for a sum of £40. They also offered to give him a royalty on copies in excess of 1,500. Witness was not a man of means, but several persons, including Lord Derby and Lord Selborne, subscribed the £40, and it was sent to the address given. As his poems were not published, although he frequently called upon the company to perform their part of the contract, witness took action against them in the High Court. He obtained a verdict for £40, with £460 damages, the latter sum to be reduced to £200 if the manuscripts were returned. As a matter of fact he never received costs, damages, or manuscripts.
Several other witnesses gave similar testimonies. The defendants, all of whom argued that the various societies were genuine, failed to have the case thrown out and they were committed for trial at the Old Bailey.

The Old Bailey Trial began on 19 September 1892. Soon after it began more financial information emerged. For example, Morgan and Tomkins opened an account at the Capital and Counties Bank in April 1885. A total of just over £425 was paid in and withdrawn, until November 1885 when the account was closed. In March 1886 the two men opened an account at the Royal Exchange Bank, paying in a total of £998 and withdrawing a similar amount up until May 1887. A second account at the same bank was opened in April 1887, and again all the money paid in – £438 – was quickly withdrawn until the account was closed in January 1888.

A third account, under the name of the Authors’ Alliance, with W.J. Morgan named as the managing Director and Charles M. Clarke as Chairman, was opened in December 1887 – up until the following December £429 was paid in and withdrawn. Other accounts were opened at the British Mutual Banking Company, three in the names of Morgan, one in the name of Steadman and one in the name of the International Society of Literature, Science and Art (Curator – W.J. Morgan). A total of £2,975 was paid in between March 1891 and June 1892, most of which was withdrawn via payments to all of the alleged fraudsters. Evidence was also given as to how Clarke in particular persuaded friends and acquaintances to cash cheques made payable to him from these various accounts which subsequently bounced.

The fraud was initially exposed in 1884 in the magazine Truth, owned and edited by the Liberal politician Henry Labouchere, with articles continuing to appear up until 1891. Stung by the exposure, the fraudsters struck back, the Old Bailey being read a letter, purportedly from the International Society for Literature, Science and Art, written by Sir Gilbert Campbell which concluded: 
The names of the ladies and gentlemen who have joined the Society, and who have taken no notice whatever of your Grub Street Sewage, are a sufficient guarantee for its position, without even your endorsement, and so Heave you, like some loathsome reptile, to swelter in your self-created garbage.
The defendants produced several witnesses who were perfectly happy with the services they received from the various societies – they were paid for work they carried out as employees, or for paintings that were sold at exhibitions, or for performing at concerts.

The defendants also turned upon each other. Morgan, who addressed the jury for three hours, argued that he had always done his best, and that no-one had ever complained about him. He denied having anything to do with the Authors’ Alliance, and argued that the Charing Cross Company had existed for seven years and that “the books published by the company spoke volumes”. (In fact, the company appears to have published around 13 books in 1876-81, four of which were translations of foreign novels.) He also pointed out that the National Artistic Union never got beyond the initial idea, and the few subscriptions and pictures sent were returned.

Tomkins argued that his position in the companies was simply that of an employee. He claimed to have been personally connected with only two of the companies – the Authors’ Alliance and the City of London Publishing Company. He said that the latter had been a successful company for 15 years (although only 10 books bearing its imprint are in the UK copyright libraries, all published in 1884-86). His only failing was that of being unable to pay a quarter’s rent.

Campbell stated that his name was used in some instances without his knowledge or permission, and that otherwise he believed all the companies he was involved in were genuine and bona fide. He had nothing to do with the Authors’ Alliance.

Clarke, in a written statement, said that he considered Morgan to be a perfectly honourable man. Clarke’s only connection with him was as a director of the Authors’ Alliance, although he had not given Morgan permission to use his name as a director. He claimed that he knew nothing of the cheques he had passed on that subsequently bounced until months later. He also pointed out that he had already spent seven weeks in prison, had incurred expenses of £150, and that he had been handcuffed and chained to a prisoner who had since been condemned to death for murder, suggesting that all this was punishment enough.

After two hours deliberation on 27 September 1892, the jury found the defendants guilty in varying degrees, with Campbell, Tolmie and Clarke convicted of conspiracy only, as they had not materially benefited from the frauds. The jury accepted that the Charing Cross Publishing Company was a genuine concern. Morgan was sentenced to 8 years penal servitude; Tomkins five years, and Steadman 15 months. Campbell, acquitted of obtaining money by false pretences, was still guilty of lending himself to the frauds, and because of his title and position he was given an exemplary sentence of 18 months imprisonment with hard labour. Tolmie was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour, and Clarke to four months with hard labour, the jury having recommended mercy in both cases. [Sources: The Times, The Publishers’ Circular, Old Bailey Transcripts.]

Charles Henry Montague Clarke was born on 21 April 1845 in Islington (although the census record for 1861, when he was still living with his parents and working as a Banker’s clerk, stated that he was born in Hammersmith). By 1871 he was married, to Marion, some four years his senior, living at 6 Vincent Terrace, Islington, and describing himself as a literary agent and author. Ten years later, living at 17 Thomas Place, Hackney, he described himself as a publisher and an L.L.D. and M.A., Philadelphia. Both of these qualifications were phony, the “American University of Philadelphia” being notorious for issuing fake diplomas. [Sources: Census records at and The New York Times.]

In the meantime, Clarke had been declared bankrupt in March 1869. The announcement, in The London Gazette, gave an indication of his precarious lifestyle, referring to
Charles Henry Montague Clarke (known as Charles M. Clarke) of No. 22, New-road, Shepherds Bush, in the county of Middlesex, and of Aldine-chambers, Paternoster Row, in the city of London, previously of No. 29, Alfred-street, Islington, formerly thereto of No. 14, Alfred-street aforesaid, before that of No. 11, Vere-street, Oxford-street, and previously to that of No. 1, Canonbury-villas, Islington, formerly of No. 12, Dagmar-road, South Hackney, all in the county of Middlesex, previously to then of No. 36, Basinghall-street, in the city of London, Literary Agent and Accountant to various Public Companies, having been adjudged bankrupt under a Petition for adjudication of Bankruptcy, filed in Her Majesty’s Court of Bankruptcy, in London, on the 13th of March 1869…
This prompted his father to write to the The Echo on 18 March 1869, the paper declaring Mr C.H. Clarke, publisher of Aldine Chambers, 13 Paternoster Row, requests us to state that he is not the Charles Henry Montague Clarke alluded to in the London Gazette of Tuesday. Ironically, as shown earlier, Charles Henry Clarke himself had had his own brushes with bankruptcy, in 1862 and 1867. [Sources: London Gazette.]

Both Charles Henry Montague Clarke and his wife were writers. Only three of Charles’s books are listed in the British Library Catalogue: Farrago, or Facts, Fun and Fancies; A Christmas Book (C.H. Clarke, 1864); The Sea-side Visitor’s Guide (“Published for the Proprietor at 13 Paternoster Row”); and Corns and Bunions; Their Causes and Cures (C.H. Clarke, 1878), although in 1895 he claimed to have written 32 novels. His wife, Marion Clarke (born Marion Doake in Dromara, Co. Down on 29 April 1841 – date and place of marriage not known, although it was prior to 1871) wrote 15 novels under her own name, including Out of Step, or The Broken Crystal - Cousin Dorry, or Three Measures of Meal - Polly’s Petition, or Bread for a Stone and No Security, or Rights and Wrongs. Her publishers included C.H. Clarke, the Sunday School Union and the Religious Tract Society.

In 1878 Clarke established the Literary Production Committee at 44 & 46 Ludgate Hill (later moving to 7 Gough Square and then 40 Southampton Buildings), ostensibly to help amateur and unknown authors, who could become honorary members on payment of five guineas a year. Within two years the membership fee had fallen to one guinea. Clarke was named as the Secretary, but the identity of anyone else involved – indeed, if there was anyone else – was never revealed. The Prospectus, circulated at the Committee’s formation and then reprinted at the back of its books, set out the Committee’s principle objects:
1. The careful perusal by one or more members of the Committee of every MS. submitted.
2. Advice as to construction of plot, style of diction etc.
3. Correction and revision (when required) by competent authors of standard reputation.
4. The introduction of suitable contributions to the editors of the leading magazines and journals.
5. The Publication of such works as the Committee may deem of sufficient interest to merit the attention of the public, whether of Divinity, Fiction, Poetry, Drama, History, Science or Travel.
The Prospectus went on to state: 
In cases where the merit of the MS submitted is deficient, and cannot be improved by revision, condensation, expansion, or reconstruction, a fee of from half a guinea, according to the length of the manuscript, will be charged to cover the trouble and expense of reading and cost of retransmission to the owner.
If the Committee thought highly enough of a work they would agree to publish it:
In all cases the copyright of the work will remain with the author… Further, the author will share equally with the Committee in the net profits (less 10 per cent commission) arising from the sale of his book.
In terms of the annual membership fee, the Committee’s Prospectus promised that all manuscripts submitted by members would be read, and advice and revision given free of charge; members’ contributions would have priority of consideration and publication; members would receive a free copy of every work published by the Committee; and stationery, books etc would be procured for members at cost price.

The Committee also offered to supply on short notice, at a small charge, original verses on any subject – Valentines, birthday odes etc; also to write to order descriptive articles, essays etc.

Later on, it extended its promised activities to advising in copyright law, translating from into foreign languages, compiling indexes, cataloguing libraries and valuing books for probate purposes.

While this may have appeared to be a similarly fraudulent enterprise to the others with which Clarke was involved, it did, eventually, begin publishing books. The first was The Story of Stella Peel by Harriet Louisa Childe-Pemberton, in 1880. On the page after the title page, there was an announcement of the award of prizes – £60, £25 and £15 – to the winners of a competition for amateur authors. The judges, who included Charles H. Clarke, John Bennett, Frederick Whymper, Percy B. John and Charles Henry Montague Clarke, awarded the prizes as follows: 
1st   • Miss M. Doake for her story May Darling
2nd • Miss May Probyn for her story Who Killed Cock Robin?
 3rd • Mrs Clutton-Brock for her story The Price of a Violin
Miss M. Doake was, in fact, Clarke’s sister-in-law. May Darling appears to have been her only novel, although she did co-write two novels with her sister (1873 and 1875), and she published a book of verse in 1913.

As well as being a judge for the literary prize, there is some indication that Charles Henry Clarke had another interest in the Literary Production Committee – at least one of his books, an edition of Robert the Rover by W. Stephens Hayward, issued in his Clarke’s Standard Novel Library (undated), carries an advertisement for the Committee, and the last page of the book itself bears the legend The Literary Production Committee, Printers, London.

The first two of the prize competition winners were subsequently published by the Committee, in 1881 and 1880 respectively. But the Committee went on to publish only a further twelve books – nine novels (including seven by Mrs Charles M. Clarke, although none of these are listed in any of the copyright libraries), a book of poems, a Sea-side Annual, and a New Year’s Address, and nothing further appeared after 1881. Disappointingly, a book advertised as forthcoming – The Embryo Author; A Complete Guide to Literary Success – by Charles Henry Montague Clarke himself, appears to have fallen by the wayside.

Clarke was also involved in what appears to have been an abortive attempt to establish a “Government Writers’ League”. A preliminary meeting was held at the Literary Production Committee’s office on 23 July 1878, with Clarke as Chairman, which heard how some writers employed in various Government offices were paid only 10d per hour while they were engaged in writing, rather than for every hour they were at work. While a resolution calling for an increase in pay and for a representative organisation to be formed was carried unanimously, it is not known what, if anything, subsequently transpired. [Source: The Times.]

After serving his prison sentence, Clarke appears to have struggled to earn a living, and was desperate enough to apply to the Royal Literary Fund for financial help in March 1895. He described himself as an author and Doctor of Law, living at 122 Greenwood Road, Dalston, his only income being £50 a year from some property in Ireland (presumably owned by his wife), and literary earnings over the preceding year of just £20. On his application form he listed 38 novels, six written in collaboration with his wife, plus contributions to newspapers and periodicals during thirty years which have been too numerous to catalogue for me, nor have I kept any record of them – at the best they were only of ephemeral interest.

In support of his application he wrote a letter (on notepaper from the Devonian Club, Ashley’s Hotel, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden), saying that 
For the past two years I have been in indifferent health and a martyr to rheumatic gout, hence I have been unable to do as much or as good work as previously, the result has been that my M.S.S. have been uniformly rejected by the Publishers, and I have drifted into debt…
He later provided a list of his debts, totalling £49, including £7.10 rent, £6.10 for warehousing furniture (he had presumably been evicted from a previous address) and £10.10 for articles he had pawned. His application was supported by letters from Andrew Chatto, the publisher; Sir George Measom, publisher and philanthropist; and C. Downey of Downey & Co., publishers. Despite these testimonials, the Royal Literary Fund rejected his application on the grounds of “insufficient literary merit”.

If there had been any estrangement between father and son as a result of the son’s activities, there appears to have been a rapprochement by the time of the 1901 census, with both of them living at 18 Sawbridge Road, Maldon St. Peters, Essex. Charles Henry Clarke, by then aged 79, was described as a retired publisher, with his son described as an Insurance Agent and author. Their financial position appears to have improved as the household also included Lizzie Carter, a 19 year-old housemaid. Ten years later, Charles Henry Montague Clarke was living alone at 27 Halford Square, Clerkenwell, describing himself as a journalist. He died in Holborn in 1921.

Sir Gilbert Edward Campbell was born on 29 April 1838 in Romsey, Hampshire, into an aristocratic Irish family originally from Donegal. After attending Harrow (1852-54) he joined the Army, ending up as a Lieutenant, and saw active service with the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot in India in 1857-58.

In 1870 he married Esther Selina Baynham, and in the same year he joined the 2nd Royal Tower Hamlets (Queen’s Own Light Infantry) Militia as a Captain. A year later, his wife gave birth to a son, Claude Robert, who was destined to die in 1900 when, as a sailor, he was shipwrecked off Java Head, Sumatra. Sir Gilbert resigned his commission in August 1872, although nine months later he joined the 29th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps as a Lieutenant. He resigned again in October 1875, only to join the 26th Surrey Rifle Volunteer Corps in August 1877. [Sources: London Gazette.]

At some point in the early 1870s he converted to Catholicism, and he became the President of the English Carlist Committee, dedicated to the accession of Don Carlos, Duke of Madrid, to the Spanish throne.

In April 1875 he was awarded a patent for “improvements in preserving meat, game and poultry”, but his financial position was insecure and in April 1876 he was declared bankrupt, following a petition by B.W. Fuse, an Oxford Street Jeweller, who had been owed £69 for goods supplied in 1873. Campbell’s address was given as 117 Ladbroke-grove-road, Notting Hill, and he was shown to have debts of £1,200 and assets of £800. In a second bankruptcy hearing in May 1876 he declared unsecured debts of £1,290 and secured debts of £6,000. Two months later his debts were amended to £4,843. The first creditors’ meeting wasn’t held until January 1878, and it took a further six years before any payments towards his debts could be made, with a dividend of only 9d in the pound. A further dividend, of 1s 6d in the pound, was announced in 1890. [Sources: London Gazette.]

Bankruptcy was not the only problem Campbell faced. In October 1881 he appeared in court charged with “being an insane person and not under proper control and threatening to commit suicide” at the Langham Hotel, Regent Street, following a dispute with the Alliance Insurance Company, which had denied him a payout. He was remanded to the House of Detention (a prison in Clerkenwell) for a week, although what, if anything, further happened is not known. [Source: London Daily News.]

In the second half of the 1880s Campbell began a career as a writer, mainly producing translations of French authors such as Victor Hugo and Emile Gaboriau, but also writing his own books, such as Mysteries of the Unseen, or Supernatural Stories of English Life (Ward, Lock & Co. 1889); Prince Goldenblade; A Rational Fairy Tale for Big and Little Folks (Ward, Lock & Co., 1889); and The Vanishing Diamond; A Story of the Himalayas (Ward, Lock & Vo., 1891). He also had stories in Ward, Lock’s Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1888, 1889 and 1891.

After being found guilty of conspiracy at the Old Bailey Trial in September 1892, The Times reported that Campbell was told by the Court that 
It was a sad thing to see a man with an honourable name – a baronet third in descent and one who had served his country – in the position in which he stood. It was necessary to pass a more severe sentence than if he were not Sir Gilbert Campbell, because men of good birth and position must be deterred from lending themselves to these shameful companies which were so constantly palmed off on the public. He would have to undergo 18 months’ imprisonment with hard labour.
After serving his sentence, Campbell slipped into obscurity, and apparently died in 1899.

[Read Part 1 – HERE.]

The Clarkes of Paternoster Row – Part 1

[1] Uncle Tom’s Cabin, London: C.H. Clarke and Co. 1852
by Robert Kirkpatrick

Two Controversies.

CHARLES HENRY CLARKE achieved a degree of fame as the first publisher to issue Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in England in April 1852. He went on to become a prolific publisher of cheap popular literature, operating for many years out of 13 Paternoster Row.

His son, Charles Henry Montague Clarke, was also in the publishing business, at one point also claiming to be operating out of Paternoster Row. Both men were involved in controversies. The circumstances surrounding Clarke senior’s publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin were bitterly disputed; and Clarke junior was to become involved in a series of bogus literary and artistic societies and dubious vanity publishing schemes, and ended up in prison. 

This is their story.

[2] American poster for Uncle Tom’s Cabin.


Charles Henry Clarke was born in 1821 in Hammersmith, London, the youngest son of James Clarke, one of Nelson’s captains at Copenhagen in 1801. By the time of the 1841 census, when he was still living with his parents and older brother George (a chemist) at Plantation Cottage, Chapel Street, Hammersmith, he was describing himself as a publisher, although in truth he was a printer and bookbinder — certainly, there is no record of anything he may have published under his own name until 1852.  

By 1851 Clarke had married (his wife, Julia Maria, was born in Hammersmith in 1823) and living at 17 Sudely Street, Islington, describing himself as a bookbinder and bookseller employing 45 people, and employing 15 year-old Emma South as a servant at home. His business premises were at 25 Bouverie Street, and he was in partnership with Frederick Naylor Salisbury, a printer originally from Suffolk (born Bury St. Edmunds, 1813), who also had premises in Bouverie Street.  

Clarke had earlier worked from 100 Chalton Street, Somers Town, and then at 54 Castle Street, Leicester Square and 23 Primrose Hill, Fleet Street, and had been in partnership with Rowland Bateman and Robert Hardwicke at 14 Clement’s Lane, Strand (dissolved in June 1848), and then with William Bennett, at Bouverie Street and Primrose Hill (dissolved in June 1852).

[3] Samuel Orchart Beeton
In early 1852 Clarke opened a publishing office at 148 Fleet Street, from where, in April of that year, he issued the first UK edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. At the same time, he and Salisbury were joined by Samuel Orchart Beeton, then aged 21, and later in the year the firm of Clarke, Beeton & Co. was established. Salisbury left the partnership in November 1854, and in May 1855 the remaining partnership between Clarke and Beeton was dissolved by mutual consent. [Source: London Gazette.]

[4] Henry Vizetelly
In February 1857, Beeton successfully sued Clarke over an alleged unpaid debt of £175, based on two bills of exchange, drawn in June 1852, payable by Clarke to the publisher Henry Vizetelly, and endorsed by Vizetelly to Beeton. Clarke argued that the bills were in part-payment for Vizetelly’s interest in his Readable Books series, and that Beeton had already paid Vizetelly out of the assets of his partnership with Clarke. But the jury, at the Court of Queen’s Bench, Westminster, found in Beeton’s favour. [Source: The Times]

Clarke went on to become a prolific publisher of cheap popular literature. He used the imprints of Charles Henry Clarke, Charles H. Clarke, and C.H. Clarke, and operated out of several addresses during his career, including 148 Fleet Street, 7 Gough Square, 9 Red Lion Court, 11 Red Lion Court, 13 Paternoster Row, 23A Paternoster Row, 48 Paternoster Row, 3 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row, and 9 St. Bride’s Street. 

[5] Parlour Library
Amongst his works were several series such as The Library of North American Romance (abridged versions of American dime novels), The Standard Novel Library (which included novels by William Stephens Hayward, Captain Mayne Reid and Percy B. St. John), Clarke’s Popular Railway Reading (which included novels by C.H. Ross and Bracebridge Hemyng), The Mayne Reid Library and Captain Mayne Reid’s Celebrated Novels, The Dumas Historical Library, and The Parlour Library. He also published three books by his son, Charles Henry Montague, and several by his daughter-in-law, Mrs Charles Clarke.

He may also have been behind The Boys’ Weekly: A First-class Magazine for the Boys of Great Britain, launched in November 1867 by “the proprietors at 13 Paternoster Row”, although this appears to have lasted for just one issue. 

[6] Paternoster Row, early 19th century.
In the ten years after his split with Beeton he was not always financially secure. In June 1862 he was registered bankrupt, owing just under £4,000 to John Maw Darton and Frederick Hodge, publishers in Holborn Hill; and in August 1867 he was again bankrupted following a petition by George Wood Bayldon and James Bayldon, of Calder-grove paper Mills in Wakefield, and William Austin-Thompson, a paper merchant at 13 Paternoster Row. A third bankruptcy occurred in December 1869. [Sources: London Gazette]

These financial difficulties, which arose despite the profits he made from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, may well have later encouraged Clarke to provide moral, if not financial, support to struggling writers who were forced to apply to the Royal Literary Fund. Amongst the authors for whom he wrote letters of support to accompany their applications were William Stephens Hayward, Bracebridge Hemyng, Philip Henry Hemyng and George Emmett.

Throughout the period when he was struggling with bankruptcy Clarke was living at 22 Rosetta Villas, Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith. In 1861 his household comprised his wife, his son Charles Henry Montague, then a banker’s clerk, his daughter Clara, and Elizabeth Littlewood, a 59 year-old servant. Ten years later, still at the same address, his household comprised his wife, a second son, Frank Alan, aged 8, and Ellen Smith, a 17 year-old servant, suggesting at least of modicum of new financial stability.

His wife died in 1877, and he appears to have remarried in 1878, his wife, Sussanah, being 33 years his junior. At the time of the 1881 census, he and Sussanah were lodgers at 132 Goldhawk Road with George Chilton a greengrocer; in 1891 their address was 41 Gladesmore Road, Tottenham, where they were living alone, Clarke still describing himself as a publisher, although the date of his last book in the British Library Catalogue is 1886.

[7] Paternoster Row, late 19th century.
In 1901 he was living with his son in Essex. He died in April 1904, aged 83, with obituaries appearing in newspapers as far afield as America and New Zealand.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

[8] Titlepage of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, London: C.H. Clarke and Co. 1852
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s great anti-slavery novel, was first published as a serial, over 40 weeks, in the American abolitionist periodical The National Era, beginning on 5 June 1851. The first hardback edition, published by John P. Jewett & Co. of Boston, appeared on 20 March 1862. Within a few weeks, the first pirated edition appeared in England, published by Charles H. Clarke, although the circumstances surrounding this, and subsequent events, are shrouded in controversy.

The first account appears to have been written by Clarke himself and published as an advertisement in The Times of 15 September 1852:
An early copy was sent from America the latter end of last April to Mr Bogue, the publisher, and was offered by him to Mr Gilpin, late of Bishopsgate street. Being declined by Mr Gilpin, Mr Bogue offered it to Mr Henry Vizetelly; and by the latter gentleman it was eventually purchased for us. Before printing it, however, as there was one night allowed for decision, one volume was taken home to be read by Mr Henry Vizetelly, and the other by Mr Salisbury, printer, of Bouverie Street…
The week following the book was produced, and an edition of 5,000 worked off. It made no stir until the middle of June, although we advertised it very extensively. From June it began to make way, and sold at the rate of 1,000 per week during July. In August the demand became very great, which went on increasing to the 20th. at which time it became perfectly overwhelming. We have now about 400 people employed in some way or other upon the book, and about 17 printing machines, besides hand-presses.
He went on to list the sales figures:
Illustrated edition, 7s 6d, 5th thousand; original edition, 2s 6d, 30th thousand; Routledge and Co., Railway edition, 96th thousand; Routledge & Co., People’s penny edition, 30,000 weekly. Thus about 150,000 copies of this work are already in the hands of the public, while still the weekly returns of sale show no decline. In addition, we also beg to announce that 100,000 copies of the publishers’ trade edition (price 6d, handsomely printed in pocket size, and stitched, or in six penny numbers) are now in the hands of Messrs Piper, Brothers, & Co., for immediate issue to wholesale dealers in periodicals. He finished by pointing out that Harriet Beecher Stowe was to share in his success: Our editions are the real “author’s editions”; we are in direct negotiation with Mrs Stowe, and we confidently hope that when accounts are made up we shall be in a position to award that talented lady a sum not inferior in amount to her receipts in America.
Clarke later expanded on his “negotiation” with Mrs Stowe in The Literary World in December 1887:
… I was acquainted with the late Mr S.O. Beeton, and in the autumn of [1852] I commissioned him to proceed to America, and gave him carte blanche to make any arrangement he considered desirable with Mrs Stowe. This resulted in his drawing on me in her favour two sums of £250 each. These drafts I accepted and duly paid, and subsequently a further draft for £250 in the same way.
He then said that Beeton also paid several other American authors whose books Clarke had reprinted. (In fact, by the middle of 1853, Clarke had reprinted a further 28 American novels.)

Interestingly, in a “Notice” preceding the title page of a late 1852 edition, Clarke claimed to have given Stowe $2,500 as her part of the profits. According to Claire Parfait, however, in The Publishing History of Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1852-2002 (2007), the first English publisher to pay Beecher Stowe was Thomas Bosworth of 215 Regent Street, who even announced that Stowe had a direct interest in his edition in August 1852.

Finally, he wrote:
On Mr Beeton’s return, late in the autumn of 1852, I took him into partnership, the title of the firm being Clarke, Beeton and Co., but previous to this taking place I printed all my works in Bouverie Street, and issued from my publishing office in Fleet Street nearly three-quarters of a million copies of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.
A slightly different, and wildly inaccurate, account was given by the publisher Sampson Low in The Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, written by Charles Edward Stowe and published in 1889:
The first edition printed in London was in April 1852, by Henry Vizetelly, in a neat volume at ten and sixpence, of which he issued 7,000 copies. He received the first copy imported, through a friend who had bought it in Boston the day the steamer sailed, for his own reading. He gave it to Mr V., who took it to the late Mr David Bogue, well-known for his general shrewdness and enterprise. He had the book to read and consider overnight, and in the morning returned it, declining to take it at the very moderate price of five pounds.
Vizetelly at once put the volume into the hands of a friendly printer and brought it out on his own account, through the nominal agency of Clarke & Co. The 7,000 copies sold, other editions followed, and Mr Vizetelly disposed of his interest in the book to the printer and agent, who joined with Mr Beeton and at once began to issue monster editions…
Another somewhat different account was given by Clarke’s son, Charles Henry Montague Clarke, in 1889 in The Literary World. According to Clarke jnr., an advance copy of the book was submitted to nearly every publisher of note in London, but each in turn either failed to appreciate its merits or was ignorant of the non-existence of any copyright in England in books originally published in America. The book ended up with the publisher David Bogue, who in turn handed it on to Henry Vizetelly to dispose of. Vizetelly showed it to Frederick Salisbury, Charles Henry Clarke’s partner in Salisbury, Clarke & Co., in Bouverie Street, asking £5 for it. Clarke bought it, and immediately printed off an edition bearing the imprint C.H. Clarke & Co., 148 Fleet Street.

According to Clarke jnr., sales were slow for some months, until, after large sums had been spent on advertising and the appearance of a favourable review in The Times, the demand increased to thousands of copies daily — edition succeeded edition as fast as they could be printed, and the whole resources of a printing establishment employing over three hundred hands failed to keep pace with the unprecedented demand. By Clarke jnr’s account, within twelve months Charles H. Clarke had printed and sold 995,000 copies. (This is in contrast to a claim made by the editor of The National Era in June 1853, who wrote that Clarke had, at that time, issued six editions comprising an aggregate sale of 597,000 copies.)

Clarke jnr. further stated that Salisbury, Clarke & Co. subsequently printed 40,000 copies for George Routledge, carrying his imprint, and similarly large editions were printed for other publishers. In the autumn of 1852 Samuel Beeton was taken into partnership by Clarke, and subsequent editions of the book carry the imprint of Clarke, Beeton & Co. He also repeated the earlier claim that Clarke was the first English publisher to recognise the right of American authors to a share in the profits of their work resulting from English reprints, and that he consequently gave Harriet Beecher Stowe £750.

Later, Clarke jnr. expanded on this narrative, and, as is often the case, the tale grew in the telling. In a letter published in Book Monthly in September 1906 (and subsequently reprinted in The Publishers’ Weekly on 23 March 1907), he stated that Vizetelly had acquired a two-volume copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin from the publisher David Bogue, who was opposed to issuing reprints and did not think highly enough of the book to make an exception.

He therefore passed it on to Vizetelly, who in turn gave it to Clarke and Salisbury, then in partnership with each other, warning them that a further copy was likely to arrive from America in the next mail, and that they needed to make a decision by noon the next day, otherwise Vizetelly would take it elsewhere. Clarke kept the first volume and split the other into two parts, giving one to Salisbury and the other to James Greenwood, who was acting as Clarke’s reader and literary adviser.

Having read their portions overnight, both Salisbury and Greenwood recommended immediate publication. The decision to do this was made on 31 March 1852, and on 15 April the first English edition, of 5,000 copies, priced at 2s 6d, was issued by Charles H. Clarke & Co. Unfortunately, sales were poor, until a lengthy review appeared in The Times in August, followed by other favourable reviews elsewhere, and sales quickly escalated.

The book was then pirated by other publishers. Clarke refers to one particular edition which included a preface written by Greenwood, which was protected by English copyright (a protection not offered, of course, to the American text itself). A great supply had been distributed to the booksellers, but none could be legally sold till a satisfactory agreement had been come to with Clarke. Clarke subsequently published a new edition with chapter headings written by Greenwood, and when this was pirated Clarke was able to invoke copyright law and acquire the entire print-run of the pirated edition for less than the cost of paper and printing, simply inserting a new title page and issuing it under his own imprint.

Finally, Clarke jnr. told that in the autumn of 1852
my father sent his confidential clerk, Mr S.O. Beeton, to America to interview Mrs Harriet Beecher Stowe, and hand her an honorarium of a thousand guineas in recognition of the profit he had realised from her book. This is believed to be the first instance on record in which an English publisher recognised any moral obligation to share his profits with the author of a non-copyright reprint.
On Beeton’s return, he was taken into partnership, and the firm of Clarke, Beeton & Co. was formed. Clarke then provided Routledge with 400,000 copies for a shilling edition; 250,000 copies of a sixpenny edition were printed for another publisher; and, according to Clarke jnr., within twelve months no less than a million and a quarter copies of the book were produced by Clarke & Co., with a net profit of £18,000…

So, at the very least the honorarium paid to Beecher Stowe had increased from £750 to a thousand guineas; the number of copies printed and sold by Clarke had jumped from just under one million to a million and a quarter; and Henry Vizetelly had virtually been written out of the story. Clarke was still peddling this truncated version of events as late as 1921, in Chambers’s Journal, shortly before his death.

Yet Vizetelly had already given his own, rather more detailed account, initially in a letter to The Literary World in 1889 and later in his autobiography, Glances Back Through Seventy Years, published in 1893. To begin with, he claimed that the original imported copy had been sent to David Bogue from America by someone working for Putnam & Co. in New York, who suggested that as the book was so popular Bogue should reprint it and send him a trifle for his pains. Bogue, not being interested in publishing reprints of American books, passed the book on to Vizetelly for inclusion in his Readable Books, a series of cheap books Vizetelly was issuing from his premises in Gough Square, Fleet Street.

Wary of issuing what was a two-volume book for a shilling, he suggested entering into a partnership with Clarke and Salisbury, and they agreed to share the costs of publishing an edition by an equal three-way split.

Vizetelly said he changed the book’s original subtitle, Life Among the Lowly, to Negro Life in the Slave States of America, and that a writer, then little-known, but who is now widely appreciated, both as a journalist and essayist, wrote a preface to the work for the modest sum of two guineas.

According to Vizetelly, it was not advertising and favourable reviews which led to the book’s eventual success but the publication of a shilling edition, which came about as the result of a cunning pre-emptive strike on his part:
Although well advertised, the volume — of which 2500 copies had been printed — proved a failure, but a rather singular circumstance contributed to its eventual success. In the “Readable Book” series I had reprinted Curtis’s “Nile Notes”, much to the annoyance of Mr Richard Bentley, who had a half-guinea edition of the work. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” being advertised with both my own and Clarke’s imprint, Mr Bentley, by way of retaliation against me, I imagine, announced a shilling edition of the book. With the view of checkmating him, I had a cover printed with “Price one shilling” on it, and got Clarke to do up a copy of our edition in paper boards, trimming it as near to a foolscap 8vo as could be managed. I then sent the volume to Mr Bentley with my compliments, and a notification that the accompanying shilling edition of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was on the eve of publication. This induced Mr Bentley to hold his hand, and as there was scarcely any sale for the book at half-a-crown in cloth, it was determined to work off the remaining sheets in paper boards at a shilling.
Note that Vizetelly claimed the first print run to have been 2,500 copies, compared with Charles Henry Clarke’s claim of 5,000 and Sampson Low’s claim of 7,000.

According to Vizetelly he then went abroad for two or three months, and on his return found that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a best seller. He subsequently asked Clarke for an account of the book’s sales, and was referred to Salisbury and Beeton. But he was rebuffed:
These gentlemen laughed at the idea of my asking for an account, told me that during my absence abroad they had paid my clerk for the work I had done in connection with the volume, and had also repaid to him the five pounds which had been forwarded to Putnam’s young man, and that they declined to recognise me any further in the matter.
Vizetelly immediately threatened legal action, giving them until noon the following day. Just before his deadline, Beeton called on him, offering at first £200 and then £300.
I replied that the extremist sum I had ever hoped to make out of my share of the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” reprint was £500, and that after the dishonourable way in which I had been treated, I was determined not to accept a penny less. Before the day expired I received the acceptance of Clarke, Salisbury and Beeton for the sum in question, and my connection with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” thereupon ceased.
Vizetelly then paints another contradictory picture of the relationship between Clarke, Beeton and Beecher Stowe:
Beeton, greatly dreading that the firm in which he had become partner might be forestalled by some enterprising London publisher with regard to Mrs Stowe’s next book, hastened to America and offered that lady electrotypes from the engravings of an English illustrated edition of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, which he and his partners had produced, for republication in the United States, hoping by this economical sop to secure the early sheets of her new volume. The lady and her husband, however, laughed at him in a polite way, and hinted that a money payment on account of the large profits which had been made out of the English reprint of “Uncle Tom” would be better appreciated.
Consequently, in the words of Vizetelly, Beeton gave Mrs Stowe a few hundred pounds, in return for a promise of the early sheets for The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, her follow-up.

Clarke, Salisbury and Beeton then printed a first English edition of The Key of 50,000 copies, the bulk of which, by Vizetelly’s account, was later pulped, leading to the speedy liquidation of the partnership. (This was not the case, as the partnership remained string until it was dissolved in May 1855.)

Note that Vizetelly suggested that Beeton had become a partner in Clarke’s firm before he travelled to America.

This account of Vizetelly’s involvement was also reprinted in The New York Times in October 1901, and re-printed again via a letter to The Publishers’ Weekly from his son, Frank H. Vizetelly, on 30 March 1907, in a riposte to Charles Henry Montague Clarke’s account published a week earlier.

Yet another version of Beeton’s visit to America is found in The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton by Kathryn Hughes (2005). Initially, according to Hughes, Mrs Stowe refused to see Beeton, but then relented:
The young man’s opening gambit, of presenting her with the electrotype plates from the luxury British edition, was sadly misjudged. Included among these was a cover illustration comprising a highly eroticized whipping scene, exactly the kind of thing that Mrs Stowe had taken pains to avoid. “There is not one scene of bodily torture described in the book — they are purposely omitted,” she explained reprovingly to him in a later letter dated 27 September 1852.
[quoted in Mr & Mrs Beeton by H. Montgomery Hyde, 1951]

The initial offer of the original plates from Clarke’s illustrated edition was, of course, omitted from both his and his son’s accounts, and was also omitted by Beeton when he briefly referred to his visit to Mrs Stowe in his book The Dictionary of Universal Information (1858-62).

Kathryn Hughes further told that as Beeton was leaving Mrs Stowe he bumped into the publisher Sampson Low, who had also gone to America in order to persuade her to let him have the first option of publishing her next book. (Some sources say that Sampson Low spoke to Mrs Stowe before Beeton’s arrival.) In the end, Mrs Stowe agreed to furnish both Beeton and Low with advance pages, in conjunction with a third publisher, Thomas Bosworth. As Hughes pointed out, this shared arrangement was lucky, as the book was a commercial failure and all three firms lost money.

The only thing that can be said with any certainty about the pirating of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Charles Henry Clarke in 1852 was that it turned out to be a shrewd move, the book going on to become hugely successful, not just for Clarke but for the many other English publishers who pirated it in 1852 and in subsequent years. (At least 13 English and Scottish publishers released editions in 1852, including J. Cassell, H.G. Bohn, Gall & Inglis, George Vickers, Thomas Bosworth, Richard Bentley, Milner & Sowerby and Ingram, Cooke & Co.)

What at first glance was a simple and amicable agreement between Henry Vizetelly and Charles Henry Clarke turned into a bitter dispute, with wide disparities in the several accounts describing the book’s publication.

The full and true story will, perhaps, never be known.

[9] Uncle Tom and Topsy, American theatrical posters.
[Continue to Part 2 – HERE.]

[Charles Henry Montague Clarke and the Bogus Societies HERE.]

Monday, June 17, 2013

Robert Minor in the New York Call

[1] John D. Rockefeller stumps the pavement for the 
New York Call,  July 28, 1915.

“Honesty is a bourgeois virtue.” — Robert Minor

Robert Berkeley “Fighting Bob” Minor was born in the shadow of the Alamo at San Antonio, Texas on July 16, 1884, and died in 1952. He began his newspaper career on the San Antonio Gazette before moving to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where he occupied his time with morgue drawings and daily cartoons using a blunt grease crayon on textured paper.

[2] September 12, 1915

Next was the New York Evening World, until his anti-war cartoons led to dismissal in 1914. He then turned to the socialist press: Mother Earth, The Masses, and the New York Call. In 1920 Minor joined the Communist party and edited Liberator (1924) and the Daily Worker (1929 1937). His cartoons were so persuasive that during World War I many of his Call cartoons were republished in “respectable” newspapers like the World. By removing his anti-capitalist captions the nonpartisan images masqueraded as anti-Kaiser sentiments. 

Rogue’s Gallery: Socialist Cartoons HERE.

[3] New York World, August 3, 1912
[4] New York Call, August 28, 1915
[5] New York Call, September 15, 1919
[6] New York Call, July 4, 1915
[7] New York Call, August 15, 1915
[8] New York Call, August 8, 1915
[9] New York Call, August 22, 1915
[10] New York Call, September 11, 1915

 [11] New York World, October 6, 1914

[12] New York World, October 19, 1914

 [13] New York Call, June 3, 1915

[14] New York Call, June 5, 1915