May 10, 2024 02:00 PM London
Open to the public: Zoom link

Matthew Chambers, Author of London and the Modernist Bookshop (CUP 2020), will be discussing his work on the role of literary communities and networks in the growth of the bookshop. The event will be recorded.

Harold Monro holding up a sign for The Poetry Bookshop c. 1912
Harold Monro holding up a sign for The Poetry Bookshop c. 1912

A “bookseller” could once describe a retailer, publisher, printer, or even binder, and while these roles were more definitively disambiguated in the nineteenth century, and certainly by the early twentieth century, it remained common for a bookseller to publish periodicals, books, and especially sales catalogues of their stock. First, I examine situations where booksellers published periodicals of modernist literature, and approach them as book trade narratives, doubling as elaborate advertisements for their businesses, including the promotion of specific stock or lending library; e.g., Coterie (Henderson’s, London), Poetry and Drama/The Chapbook (The Poetry Bookshop), and This Quarter (At the Sign of the Black Manikin, Paris). Second, I contextualize the famous examples of Sylvia Beach publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses and Edward Titus publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover within these same dynamics of promotion and reputation-building. Finally, I explore additional examples of bookseller-publishers — Argus Books (Chicago), House of Books (New York), Stanley Rose (Los Angeles), and The Poetry Bookshop (London) — to consider how associated literary communities could be bound and sold, selling the idea of the bookshop to a broader clientele.

Matthew Chambers is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Reading. He has written on literary networks and publishing history in Modernism, Periodicals, and Cultural Poetics (Palgrave 2015) and in London and the Modernist Bookshop (Cambridge 2020). He is a member of the Bookselling Research Network, and editor of the peer-reviewed journal The New Americanist (Edinburgh University Press).

By Eben J Muse

Dr Eben J. Muse is a Reader in Bookselling at the School of Arts, Culture(s) and Language at Bangor University. He has been Co-Director of Stephen Colclough Centre for the History and Culture of the Book since 2016. He was raised in a bookstore in Massachusetts which he now owns, and he conducts research into the business and culture of bookstores. He is currently editing the Books & Bookselling strand of the Cambridge Elements Series Publishing and Book Culture and co-director of the Bookselling Research Network.