chapter  15
11 Pages

The Publishers and the Authors

The development of the publishing industry into the first of the mass media brought great benefits not only to the publishers but also to those who made their success possible: the authors. The author is too often the forgotten figure in the history of the book trade. It is, after all, he who writes what the publisher publishes, and the two are dependent upon each other. By the end of the eighteenth century, this mutual interdependence was already recognised to some extent. Authorship had become an established occupation largely because the newspapers and magazines provided a source of regular, if limited, income for those who could write to a deadline. In the nineteenth century, the vast increase in the output of the press created an army of writers and journalists who, unlike so many of their predecessors, could live by their pens. A successful author could expect rewards which put him among the best-paid in the land. Scott set the pattern in this as in much else. Even as a poet he had made a good deal of money,1 but with the success of the Waverley novels he made a fortune. Almost all the major Victorian novelists, a few poets and many minor authors found themselves very wealthy indeed by the end of their careers. This created new tensions within the trade, and between the publishers and the authors, if only because there was so much more to discuss than there had been in earlier days.