Spectrum of Fiction

12. Multi-volume collections of novelists, poets, and dramatists

Multi-volume collections are several volumes or many, include national or international authors, target upmarket or downmarket readers, and include one or more genres. Multi-volume collections could include a single author, such as the four-volume Works of Peter Pindar (1816) or the better known Waverley Novels published in 48 volumes from 1829 to 1833, or a selection of authors and works. For example, originally published in 1807, Corinne, or Italy by Germaine de Staël was published in 1833 as No. XXIV of Bentley’s Standard Novels, which began in 1831 with James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pilot. Each novel was sold as a single volume for six shillings, significantly less than new novels; the collection included over 100 novels and ran for over twenty years. The identification of select novels collected under a single title and sold slightly downmarket proved significant; the extended life and wider circulation in part determined which novels retained, gained or lost esteem in the public eye.

David Buchanan, University of Alberta, 2013