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This article is taken from PN Review 32, Volume 9 Number 6, July - August 1983.

Vizetelly & Co Simon Curtis

E & F SPON; Cornhill, John and Arthur Arch; Swan, Sonnenschein and Co; Bell and Daldy; Bohn; Bogue. . . . Like the names of forgotten railway companies and their long-closed country stations, the names of Victorian publishers possess an attractive aura. Now we have conglomerates like Granada Publishing, controlling a number of the old independent houses, at one, it seems, with Granada Television and motorway service areas. An old house like Macmillan now advertises itself on book-spines with an 'M'; Routledge & Kegan Paul, once Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co., have now become RKP. So BR took over from British Railways, and they from the famous companies like Great Western, and they from a mass of smaller Victorian companies with names like the Leeds and Selby, the Caledonian, the Grand Junction.

Browsing through second-hand bookshops, it is pleasant to see the old names, redolent of family, partnership and independence. Black; Blackie; Blackwood; Walter Scott; Smith and Elder; and then, like Sonnenschein, Trübner and Bohn above, there are Heinemann and Loeb, names with a foreign ring. And on the shelves of a shop in Louth, perhaps, or Leominster, you may come across another outlandish name: Vizetelly and Co.

Vizetelly? Ah yes, a few might recall, was he not the man who was put in prison for publishing pornography? Indeed, in 1888, the 68-year-old Henry Vizetelly was twice prosecuted by the Government, having been hounded by the National Vigilance Association and the puritanical M.P. for ...


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