Kipling and the Pirates

by David Alan Richards


Because you steal the property of a man’s head, which is more his particular property than his pipe, his horse, or his wife,…and because you print the stolen property aforesaid very vilely and uncleanly, you shall be cursed from Alaska to Florida and back again. Rudyard Kipling, November 1889.


Kipling’s initial fame came as bard and chronicler of the British soldier in India, but the author himself engaged for much of his working life in a war which spanned continents. No lives were lost in his battle against the publishers who pirated his works (and they were not all Americans, or all strangers), but Kipling was warlike in his wrath, took many wounds, and expended much treasure in his fight for literary sovereignty. Over the decades, the tactics that the author, his literary agent A.P. Watt, and his designated publishers on both sides of the Atlantic took to staunch the flow of unauthorized editions affected the course, quantity and form of his numerous authorized publications, and coincidentally, the history of Anglo-American book collecting.

The context, for a writer of English poetry and prose whose career began with a colonial newspaper and whose work became wildly popular not only in the British Empire’s metropolitan center but in the United States, was the unsettled state of international copyright law. As noted by John Carter: “The 19th century was the heyday of transatlantic ‘piracy’— a misnomer in this instance, for neither side could claim any legal protection from the other—and if the publishers in New York and Philadelphia made freer with English authors than London publishers did with America, it was only because Scott, Dickens or Hardy was more saleable there [in the United States] than Longfellow or Emerson here [in the United Kingdom].” (1)

The United States had not been a party to the 1886 Berne Convention on Copyright, so there was no illegality in reprinting in America, without the consent of a foreign author, any of his work that had been previously published abroad. Such work, to use the expression found in the law cases, was part of the “public domain”, available for publication in the United States either serially or in book form by any printer—called a “pirate” by the seemingly plundered such as Kipling. (2)

The Seaside Library and the “Curse on America”

While still in India, Kipling was fully alerted to the peril. Plain Tales From The Hills was published in Calcutta by Thacker, Spink & Co. in January 1888. The author wrote his American friend Edmonia Hill on 10 October of that year:

Don’t be alarmed if I suddenly refuse to exchange a word with you again. ‘Tis not on personal grounds, but national. A horrid low thief of an American publisher has pirated the P.T.’s and is going to publish ‘em in his disgusting country….Fancy cribbing that little beast of a book. They might ha’ left it alone. But I will be revenged upon them — see if I don’t.

No copy of any such American pirate edition of Plain Tales published in 1888 has survived, if Kipling’s information was accurate, and the phrase ‘is going to publish’ strongly suggests that he was reacting to a publisher’s announcement, rather than to any edition he had actually seen. But all the emotional notes of Kipling’s lifelong war against the pirates are sounded in this passage: nationalism, theft, victimisation, and vengeance.

This last may have taken first form in Letter XX of the series of travel letters which Kipling wrote for the Pioneer while journeying from India to England in 1889. (4) Pioneer, 9 November 1889, and Pioneer Mail, 13 November 1889, reprinted (omitting the ‘Curse on America’) in Cortazzi & Webb, Kipling’s Japan Collected Writings (London and Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: 1988), pp. 151-52. The author describes visiting a bookshop in Nikko, Japan, which he characterized as:

the receiving shop—the fence—for property stolen by American thieves with printing machines from English authors. I had read a good deal and thought more about what is euphemistically called piracy of literature, but I was not prepared for the black record of crime put forward by a nest of filchers called the ‘Seaside Publishing Company’, and put into my hand by the obliging shopman… The catalogue [after naming current literary lights such as Haggard, Stevenson and Ouida] concluded with a section headed ‘Miscellaneous.’ No attempt at organization marked this last ‘round up’ of little authors. They were packed into it hoof, horn and hide like cattle. You would see how the head-thief who regulated the lifting had marked the Saturday’s reviews in red ink by the batch, while his underlings did the mechanical work of stealing… The loathsome library had been cribbing Anglo-Indian stories not altogether unknown to me. It might have left our unhappy country alone. Then I cursed the Seaside Library and the United States that bred it very copiously…. [emphasis supplied]. (5)

The patent echoes, in this public letter of November 1889, of the language of his private letter to Mrs. Hill of October 1888 (wherein what might have been “left alone” is no longer Kipling’s “little book”, but “our unhappy country”), suggests that what happened in Nikko may have been conflated with an earlier experience, now dramatically heightened for publication. Still, the provocation was certainly real and personal: the reference to Saturday would seem to be to the London Saturday Review (1855-1938), and Plain Tales had been reviewed anonymously in that journal for 9 June 1888 (6) with seven other novels by various authors, none now remembered.

The reviewer had written of Kipling’s book that “for the profitable disposal of odds and ends of time or for a cross-country journey in stopping trains on a Sunday it would be hard to find better reading” — just the sort of notice bound to attract an American pirate publisher cherry-picking titles from the British literary columns to re-publish (and just the critical damning-with-faint-praise which would aggravate a newly-published writer, doubly irritated by finding himself in the pirate publisher’s “‘round up’ of little authors”).

Kipling would have read that review before writing his letter to Mrs. Hill, and perhaps had seen as well on that earlier date the list or prospectus he describes being handed in the Nikko bookshop seven months later. That particular list has never been traced, but what Kipling styles the ‘Seaside Publishing Company’ and alternatively the ‘Seaside Library’ is clearly identifiable to modern bibliographers as the ‘Seaside Library’ series of New York publisher George Munro’s Sons. Munro’s imprint was indeed to produce fifteen Kipling titles in paperback, beginning with Wee Willie Winkie, published as No. 1369 in the Seaside Library series, with a cover date of 5 October 1888. The fact that the first edition of Wee Willie Winkie did not appear in India until March 1889 shows that the Munro edition’s cover date of October 1888 cannot possibly be accurate, and clearly illustrates the problem which has bedevilled the date sequencing of the various pirate editions of Kipling’s works.

The success of Munro’s form of publishing was founded on a wide sale and a low price quite as much as it was on appropriating saleable fiction to reprint. With no competition from English-style circulating libraries, these firms depended on a large mail order business, and so postage was a considerable element in the publisher’s cost of the book. In order for these American weekly paperback “libraries” or series to qualify for second class postal treatment, the publishers were obliged to issue at least one volume a week. This system enabled them as well to offer special terms for monthly or annual subscriptions, thereby securing a wide circulation for the books without regard to their individual merit.

However, the volume actually posted on any date was not necessarily the one which bore that date. As pithily noted by Kipling bibliographer Flora Livingston, “the dates of these paper-covered novels cannot be trusted”, since they were bound up in pre-printed, uniformly-designed decorated covers, with space being left for the title of any book which the publisher chose to rush into print that week. (7)

Kipling may well have seen a Seaside Library prospectus of forthcoming titles during (or, as suggested here, even before) May 1889 which listed Plain Tales (as described in his October 1888 letter to Hill); Munro in turn may have seen that title mentioned in the Saturday Review omnibus review of June 1888 (as described in the author’s Letter XX to the Pioneer of November 1889). However, the 287-page Seaside Library edition of Plain Tales From The Hills, No. 1439 in the Seaside Library, while cover-dated “March 19, 1889”8, is actually printed from the plates of another American publisher, Frank F. Lovell & Co. (8)

Frank F. Lovell’s wrappered edition of Plain Tales was not published until 9 January 1890. (9) By then Munro’s Seaside Library imprint had become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the United States Book Company, successor to the Lovell company interests. (10) So Kipling, while outraged by the prospectus’s suggestion that Munro intended to pirate the author’s first book of short stories, could not have seen a copy of the Seaside Library Plain Tales in Japan in 1889. (11)

Wolcott Balestier and John W. Lovell

Even if Kipling had not actually been subjected to pirate publication in America by 1889, he knew he might be. Thus on his journey to London in September of that year when he reached New York City, the publishing capital of the United States, he tried to effect a formal arrangement for Plain Tales and Soldiers Three (published in India in November 1888) with the leading American establishment. Here, he was memorably rebuffed: Henry Harper of Harper and Brothers dismissed his offer, saying “Young man, this house is devoted to the production of literature.” (12) Such treatment cannot have improved Kipling’s opinion of American publishers, as he left for London to re-found his writing career in the metropolis.

His arrival there was preceded by that of Wolcott Balestier, (13) a charismatic American (whose sister Kipling was to marry) who had come to London in December of 1888 as the agent for both S.S. McClure’s syndication service, and for the New York book publisher John Wurtele Lovell. (14) Lovell, a Canadian who had emigrated to the Lake Champlain border town of Rouses Point, New York, in the early 1870’s to establish a bindery to print the sheets of British copyright works in the United States and circulate them in Canada through his father John Lovell’s Montreal firm, soon chose to become an American citizen and a publisher in his own right. After a series of co-partnerships, at age twenty-six he opened his own office on New York’s Bond Street in 1878.

Lovell began his business as a pirate, but the American publishing scene gave him no other choice. The established United States printing houses then still maintained “war prices” for the books they printed, upholding exorbitant rates by means of an agreement among these principal houses, styled “Courtesy of the Trade”, that secured to one of them the exclusive right to reprint certain English or other foreign books (while such houses themselves paid no royalties to the overseas authors). The “Courtesy” respected the monopoly of any publisher who first claimed reprint rights through publication of a “‘priority claim’ advertisement” of that publisher’s intention to reproduce a specified work. (The ‘Seaside Library’ prospectus which Kipling saw in Japan or perhaps earlier in India may well have been a variant of such a “priority claim” advertisement.) Thus, in the years before the United States’ adherence to some form of international copyright, the business of formally structured piracy of overseas works resembled a “close corporation” or cartel whose members had no intention of admitting outsiders.

To achieve his commercial goal of making substantial inroads upon the sales of the longer-established houses, and his social goal of bringing literature within the affordable price range of the masses, Lovell was forced to the piracy of piracies. Condemned for sharp practice, he responded that:

only an international copyright based on the royalty scheme can find favor with the people of this country [the United States]. Cheap books are what are wanted, and if we can give cheap books and at the same time fairly remunerate foreign authors for their brainwork, the desired end is attained….Go in heartily for the ‘courtesy of the trade’ and — starve….I prefer to follow the examples that led to success in the past. (15)

Lovell’s point was well taken, as regarded imported books. Throughout the nineteenth century English publishers believed in the policy of high prices, supported by a constantly expanding system of circulating libraries. With the price of a normal “three-decker” novel at a guinea and a half, the publishers were assured a safe return on investment, and the circulating libraries were committed to maintaining it, because the high cost made their customers more inclined to rent books than to buy them at such a price. But such a system stifled the possibility of any considerable export sale: the citizens of the United States, then in comparison with England a poor country, could hardly be expected to buy what Englishmen at home borrowed because it was too dear to purchase. With no circulating libraries in America, and no copyright protection for foreign authors, the opportunity for reprinting English books in cheap editions could not have been more favorable—except for the “Courtesy of the Trade”.

The royalty scheme of copyright advocated by Lovell — a ten percent royalty would give the author “a fair remuneration”, and the competition thus allowed would keep the end product’s price at the lowest possible figure — was, he declared, a protest against the monopoly of any one American publisher in the works of a given author. But, for English writers such as Kipling, frustrated at never seeing any prospect of payment from the American publishers following the “Courtesy of the Trade”, Lovell’s offer of royalties, conveyed through his agent Wolcott Balestier, was most attractive. By offering compensation for use of advance sheets of their forthcoming books (or, in Kipling’s case, of the Thacker, Spink and A.H. Wheeler Indian editions of his previously published work), Lovell could beat, if not completely forestall, other potential American pirate publishers by securing the cooperation (albeit grudging) of leading English authors.

Balestier thus opened the Lovell office at 2 Dean’s Yard, Westminster (illustrated in a vignette on the front cover of Lovell’s paperbacks, and to be furnished with a custom-made William Morris carpet chosen by Wolcott’s sister Caroline Balestier (16) ), with a business plan that could not but succeed. On the day of his arrival in London, Wolcott obtained a copy of the Mudie’s Library copy of Mrs. Humphry Ward’s Robert Elsmere and sent it by mail to America that night. John W. Lovell thereupon became the first American publisher of Mrs. Ward, to whom he paid $500 for the honor and thereby earned for himself the modified epithet of “moral pirate”. By the winter of 1889, seemingly within weeks of Kipling’s arrival in London in October, Balestier had worked a similar arrangement with him: the Royalty Book of the John F. Lovell Company dated January 1891, cited years later in Kipling’s lawsuit against New York publisher R.F. Fenno, (17) evidences that Lovell agreed by contract to pay Kipling £10 outright and 10% thereafter in royalties for copies of Plain Tales From The Hills sold in Lovell’s “International series in cloth and paper”.

Thus, the first edition of Plain Tales in the United States, appearing as No. 59 in Lovell’s International Series under the imprint of John’s brother Frank F. Lovell & Co., (18) while published by a ‘pirate’, was indeed an authorized edition, as noted on the bottom of the straw-colored front wrapper: “Every work in this series is published by arrangement with the author | to whom a royalty is paid”. The text—that of the Second Indian Edition of 1889, (19) taken from a copy sent by Kipling to John Lovell — was personally copyrighted by Lovell that year and filed for copyright in the Library of Congress on 7 January 1890, two days before the paperback’s front cover serial publication date, and fully five months before the appearance of the first English edition. (20) (The Lovell wrappered issue cover date would appear to be roughly accurate as to the actual date of the book’s appearance, since this edition was first advertised in Publisher’s Weekly for 25 January 1890.)

In this edition, the story title words “Lungtungpen” and “Muhammad” are correctly spelled on the Contents page (unlike the second Indian edition), but the error “Kidnapper” (for “Kidnapped”) is repeated. The famous misspelling of Kipling’s first name on the title page – “Kudyard”, a mistake not repeated on the front wrapper – was corrected in later issues, printed from the same plates in 1890 in the same International Series straw-colored paper covers with the Frank Lovell imprint and 142 & 144 Worth Street address, but with the title page imprint ‘John W. Lovell Company. 150 Worth Street, Corner Mission Place.’ In the text, English spellings were changed for American readers; Kipling later wrote: “I have been Webstered by Lovell and it hurt my emotions—badly.” (21)

This edition appeared as well in boards somewhat later the same year (being reviewed in the New York Times on 15 June 1890), in accordance with the prevailing practice after the paperbound issues were rushed to the newsdealer as a means of standardizing the market, in John W. Lovell Company’s hardbound three-volume “Indian Tales” series — arguably the first Kipling collected edition, (22) although perhaps not initially published in this manner with his special direction or permission. In defending his publishing practices and royalty proposal, Lovell had noted that the same publisher could print both a fine and a cheap edition from the same set of plates, (23) and he took his own advice in producing this series in yellowish brown boards with front cover illustrations copied from the Indian Railway Library editions (and, as with those Indian editions, Kipling’s signature in facsimile) in reddish brown, priced at $1.00 per volume; the paperback issue was 50 cents. The United States Book Company, the Lovell-organized book trust which was successor to John W. Lovell Company, used the same plates in or shortly after March 1891 for its boxed 7-volume ‘wine-colored’ ‘Uniform Series’ of Kipling’s works priced at $8.75. This deluxe edition included a leaf inserted before the Contents page of Plain Tales with the text: “This edition of my collected works is issued in America with my cordial sanction. RUDYARD KIPLING. London, March, 1891.”

As suggested by the publication of these two series, Kipling contracted with Lovell to publish his other titles. Soldiers Three and Other Stories, (24) printed with the stories from In Black and White, was published on 29 May 1890 as No. 98 in Lovell’s paperback International Series, and constitutes the first American edition of these two works. This book featured an undated facsimile letter from the author, facing the title page:

John W. Lovell Co.
150 Worth Street



Your country takes the books of other countries without paying for them. Your firm has taken some books of mine and has paid me a certain price for them though it might have taken them for nothing.

I object to the system altogether but since I am helpless authorize you to state that all editions of my property now in your hands have been overlooked by me.

Rudyard Kipling

In a letter to Publisher’s Weekly dated 25 September 1890, when his relations with Kipling had begun to fray, John Lovell noted that his edition of Soldiers Three and Other Stories was “printed from copy supplied by Mr. Kipling, and…contained his authorization and acknowledgment of monies received.” Lovell’s Royalty Book notes a payment to Kipling of £25 (two and one-half times his payment from Lovell for Plain Tales) and 10% royalty thereafter. (25) Again, the wrapper publication date of May 29 seems roughly accurate as the date of appearance: this edition is advertised in Publisher’s Weekly for 7 June 1890.

The remainder of the Indian Railway Library titles quickly followed as “authorized editions” under the John Lovell imprint: The Phantom ‘Rickshaw And Other Tales, (26) which included the contents of Wee Willie Winkie and Other Child Stories, appeared as No. 103 in the International Series on 12 June 1890 (for which Kipling again received £25 on contract and 10% royalties), and The Story of the Gadsbys (27) appeared as No. 4 in Lovell’s Westminster Series on 30 June 1890. Balestier wrote Lovell on 23 June: “I have Kipling’s authorization for the issue of ‘The Gadsbys’, and am cabling you to that effect in order that you may get it out immediately.” Under the Deodars (28) also appeared in the Westminster Series, on 3 November 1890—the sixth and last of the Railway Library texts to be so authorized for publication in America. The second half of this wrappered edition also constitutes the first American edition of the fifteen poems of Departmental Ditties as they had appeared in the first English edition of that book (published in London nine months before, in February 1890), and these were printed with plates that were this same year also employed (as their pagination shows) for the first twenty-six leaves of the Lovell/United States Book Company edition of Departmental Ditties, Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses (29) of December 1890 (which was the first book edition anywhere of several of the Barrack-Room Ballads, including ‘Danny Deever’, ‘Tommy’, and ‘Gunga Din’).

Lovell’s arrangement with Kipling produced further titles. The omnibus volume Indian Tales, gathering into 771 pages the stories from Plain Tales and most of the Indian Railway Library series stories between dark blue cloth boards titled in gilt and with top edges gilt, appeared in November 1890, priced at $1.50. (30) The Light That Failed appeared as No. 25 in the reddish-orange wrappered Westminster Series, using the same text as the English copyright issue, the 12-chapter version with the ‘happy ending’, cover-dated December 5, 1890, and priced at 25 cents. (31) The United States Book Company (styled on the front wrapper and title page as ‘Successors to John W. Lovell Company’ and headquartered at Lovell’s Worth Street address) deposited a copy in the Library of Congress as early as 12 November, but held up publication until the Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine issue of January 1891 could appear on the newsstands in December. Kipling’s friend and patron Edmund Gosse annotated in pencil the fore-title of his rebound copy of the Westminster Series edition with a book-collector’s pride: “This is positively the earliest of the various editions. It was published early in January 1891. E.G.” (32)

On 26 November 1890, the United States Book Company made deposit of its purplish red boards edition of the fourteen-chapter version, containing the so-called ‘sad ending’ to the novelette, (33) thereby making both Lovell book editions ready for issue in book form before the first public appearance of the novelette’s text in the magazine, which was reportedly circulated in mid-December 1890. For the hardbound edition, the publisher used the sheets from the 12-chapter wrappered edition, through page 179, whereafter what had originally been the final seven pages are replaced with sixty-eight pages of new text; in the second issue of the boards edition, the wrappered edition is advertised as ‘Original Ending’, and the boards edition as the ‘Revised and enlarged edition’.

But Lovell, who thus produced the first seven Kipling titles in America and an eighth—the ‘wine-colored’ volume of Departmental Ditties, Barrack-Room Ballads in the Uniform Series—which is one of the most important Kipling world-wide first editions, soon overreached. He announced in Publisher’s Weekly for 23 August 1890 the forthcoming New York publication of Kipling’s (never published) The Book of the Forty-Five Mornings, while the author’s new literary agent A.P. Watt had already sold those same American rights to Macmillan in July. (34) A copy of Lovell’s cloth edition of Soldiers Three, auctioned at the Williamson sale in 1915, contained a Kipling ALS of unknown date: “Many thanks for your kind note about the Lovell affairs. I am more than a little disgusted with the whole thing, particularly as Lovell himself seemed to think that the had a vested right to buy my books.” (35)

The Courting of Dinah Shadd and American Notes
In May of 1890, after the sale through Balestier to Lovell of American rights to his earliest works, Kipling employed Alexander (A.P.) Watt as his literary agent for all works “generally and in book form”, (36) which included syndication deals, involving sales of stories to American media such as Lippincott’s and McClure’s. Watt sold Harper’s Weekly five stories, including ‘The Courting of Dinah Shadd’, which appeared in that magazine between March and August of 1890. A sixth story, ‘The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney’ (first printed in Macmillan’s Magazine for December 1889) appeared without the author’s permission in Harper’s Short Stories for September 1890, and in the same month Harper & Brothers published all six together as Volume No. 680 in that house’s serial Franklin Square Library, together with Andrew Lang’s introductory biographical sketch, under the title The Courting of Dinah Shadd And Other Stories (37) (This book, incidentally, is apparently the first to be published in any country with Kipling’s portrait.)
In the “Literary Gossip” column of the Athenæum for 4 October 1890 appeared an entry, almost certainly planted by Kipling, claiming that, although Harpers had rejected his offer to publish with them on his visit to New York City in 1889, now, “without asking his permission or giving him an opportunity of revising” these recent stories, Harpers had printed them “as a volume” and after the fact sent him £10, “which has been promptly returned.” In the exchange of letters from both Harpers and Kipling which followed in the Athenæum’s columns, (38) Harpers noted its payment of £78 to Watt for the first five stories, and said the final £10 for ‘Mulvaney’ was “in pursuance of our rule of making pecuniary recognition of the issue by us of any non-copyright work which we had not before published or paid for.” Before the passage of the Chase [International Copyright] Act in July 1891, such payment would indeed have been voluntary.
Kipling countered that Watt’s and Harpers’ own correspondence proved that the American house purchased only “serial use” in these stories, not the book form, and that the final spurned payment was, in Harpers’ own characterization, “in acknowledgment of our reprinting the stories in the ‘Franklin Square Library’.” The angry author did concede that “If Messrs Harper & Brothers had not taken my stories, some other long or short firm would have done so. Only, a pretentiously moral pirate is rather more irritating than the genuine [John] Paul Jones.” When Walter Besant, William Black, and Thomas Hardy thereafter wrote to the Athenæum (22 November 1890), stating that in their experience Harpers had been fair to foreign authors, Kipling riposted in the magazine (16 December 1890) with his angry ‘The Rhyme of the Three Captains’, using language as violent as in the ‘Curse on America”, punning on the intervenors’ ‘names (“the bezant is hard, ay, and black”), and concluding bitterly: “How a man may be robbed in a Christian port while Three Great Captains there | Shall dip their flag to a slaver’s rag—to show that his trade is fair!”

Harpers attempted to end the controversy by bringing out a second edition of the book (also dated September on the cover but appearing in late November 1890 (39) ) which substituted for ‘Mulvaney’ another Kipling story, ‘The Record of Badalia Herodsfoot’, first printed in Harpers Weekly for 15 and 22 November 1890. One copy of this second edition is known (40) with an autograph note by an older and wiser Kipling dated 6 May 1898: “…As regards the Harper discussion, there is no sense in starting a newspaper argument with anyone under any circumstances. I should have taken their money and held my tongue but in those days I thought I did well to be angry. Never again. R. Kipling.”

Although Kipling was by this time feuding with Lovell over the latter’s presumptuous claim to American rights to The Book of the Forty-Five Mornings, (41) the author countered the Harpers paperbacks by authorizing Lovell to bring out a volume in March 1891 entitled Mine Own People in the purplish-red beveled boards format of Departmental Ditties, Barrack-Room Ballads and the other ‘Uniform Series’ titles, as well as in the buff-colored boards of the Indian Tales series as Volume IV (now the rarest volume of the cheaper series). (42) This edition contained six new stories, preceding the six stories appearing in the first Harpers edition of The Courting of Dinah Shadd. Prefacing an introduction by Henry James (another distinction for the Lovell issue) is the facsimile of an undated letter signed by Kipling, undoubtedly sought specifically by Lovell as before to prove authorization, reading: ‘A little less than half of these stories have been printed in America in book form without my authority and under a name not of my choosing. I have been forced in self defense to include these tales in the present volume which has my authority. I owe it to the courtesy of my American publishers that I have had the opportunity of preparing the present book.’ (43)

Marring the success of issuing this retributive authorized first edition, however, was the appearance in the same month of March 1891 of the first unauthorized Kipling first edition in the United States, M.J. Ivers & Co.’s greenish-blue wrappered edition of American Notes, published as No. 230 in that firm’s ‘American Series’ with Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Bottle Imp, cover dated February 14, 1891. (44) During his journey from Calcutta to London in 1889, Kipling had sent back to the Allahabad Pioneer a series of letters of travel describing his impressions and experiences, under the general title ‘From Sea To Sea’; the ‘American letters’ are Nos. XXIII to XXXIX. A series of extracts from these letters, with part of a letter about Buffalo, New York, not in the series ‘From Sea To Sea’, was syndicated in America through S.S. McClure to the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Press, and the New York Herald, each newspaper using slightly different headings and running the series on seven successive Sundays. The Ivers edition contains in book form the extracts as they appeared and were titled in the New York Herald (45) (Ivers was an equal opportunity pirate: this volume also constitutes the first book edition in any country of Stevenson’s Bottle Imp, which had appeared serially in the Herald through 1 March 1891—which proves the Ivers edition could not have appeared on its February cover date). According to the Book Lover for Autumn 1900, the Kipling pieces (and presumably the Stevenson installments as well) were collected and collated from the Herald by the bookkeeper for Ivers, a Mr. Brereton.

The title for this unauthorized edition was of course not Kipling’s, but the pirate publisher’s, apparently chosen to echo that of Charles Dickens’ American Notes for General Circulation of 1842, and indeed Kipling’s caustic commentary echoed his travelling predecessor’s attacks of a half-century before on the vulgarity and incorrectness of American English, and the ubiquity of spittoons, among other things. Kipling’s own opinion of Ivers’ book is known from an autographed copy of the second issue inscribed on the title page: ‘(all pirated) | imperfect & inaccurate’. (46) In addition to the seven chapters of Kipling, this edition contained a rebuttal entitled ‘Kipling Brought To Book’ by Harriet P. Easton of Jersey City, and ‘Andrew Lang on Kipling’, an article reprinted from the London Daily News criticizing the author’s attitude in these letters of travel (which had been syndicated in the Detroit Free Press in London while running in the American newspapers), and for ignoring Dickens’ advice “never to travel with the preconceived idea: ‘How clever I am, and how funny everyone else is.’” When Kipling himself first collected this material eight years later in From Sea To Sea (New York, 1899; London, 1900), he dropped two of the original letters entirely and edited the remainder very heavily, omitting many of his uncomplimentary remarks on the United States–most especially the ‘Curse on America’ in the letter from Nikko, Japan. (47)

Skirmish in India: The Suppressed Editions of A.H. Wheeler

While Kipling was jousting with Harpers in New York, he found himself also at odds with the Allahabad house of A.H. Wheeler, which had published the six Kipling titles in the Indian Railway Library. The principal of Wheeler’s was Emile Moreau, and his plan was to publish paperback book editions of Kipling’s newspaper sketches, by taking an assignment of rights from the publishers of the Civil and Military Gazette and Pioneer, Sir George Allen and the other proprietors of the Pioneer Press. Section 18 of the Copyright Act in England, which had been made applicable to the colonies and thus was also law in India, provided that a newspaper proprietor could not publish any portion of copy appearing in his paper “separately and singly without the consent previously obtained by the Author thereof”. Thus, the author was on firm ground in moving to suppress The City of Dreadful Night and Other Sketches, intended to be published in an edition of 3000 copies, and comprised of seven articles on Calcutta which had appeared in the Pioneer in March-April 1888, and eleven ‘Miscellaneous Sketches’, ten of which were first printed in the CMG from March 1887 through October 1888 and one in the Pioneeer in February 1888. (48) Only one copy is now known to exist, formerly in the Ballard Kipling Collection, (49) purchased by James McG. Stewart and retained in his estate, rather than presented with the balance of his Kipling collection to Dalhousie University. A retitled The City of Dreadful Night And Other Places (50) appeared from Wheeler in March 1891, presumably with Kipling’s permission, without the ‘Miscellaneous Sketches’, but enlarged by ‘Among the Railway Folk’, ‘The Giridh Coal Fields’, and ‘In an Opium Factory’.
The struggle with the house of Wheeler continued into the autumn of 1891. Sir George Allen apparently believed he had Kipling’s oral agreement to allow the republication of Kipling’s travel letters about Rajputana (now Rajasthan) which appeared in the Allahabad Pioneer and the Pioneer Mail between December 1887 and February 1888, in exchange for the Pioneer’s permission for the author to syndicate through McClure the letters which Ivers pirated in part as American Notes. The Wheeler edition, entitled Letters of Marque, was proposed to be published in an Indian edition of one volume in boards, (51) and in an English edition, by arrangement with the London publishers Sampson Low, in two volumes in wrappers. (52) After the printing and binding of the hardbound Indian edition and of the first volume of the paperback London edition, all performed without Kipling’s permission, the author demanded that the entire stock be suppressed.

His strong objection to these unauthorized publications was not on monetary grounds alone: he had come to realize that this early journalism could be the foundation for edited presentation, or mined for completely new work (as it was for The Naulahka), and he also became aware, as he matured as a writer, of youthful solecisms or excesses that required correction. In his letter of apology to Kipling for the contretemps, Pioneer editor George M. Chesney wrote: “I can of course see your objections to your juvenile work being disinterred and paraded, in publisher’s fashion—but bear in mind that this has been done with the clearest belief that it was with your knowledge and consent.” (53)

Kipling’s lawsuit against Allen and Moreau for copyright infringement and royalties was finally settled in October 1892, with Kipling’s claims being waived in consideration of the assignment to the author of rights to all Pioneer Press newspaper contributions prior to that date (excepting those already having been reprinted in the Indian Railway Library), including specifically ‘City of Dreadful Night’, ‘Letters of Marque’, and ‘From Sea To Sea’, and the destruction of all copies of City of Dreadful Night and Other Sketches and Letters of Marque, which were “to be sent to the papermills and there destroyed.”. (54) Reportedly some nine hundred of the thousand-copy Indian edition of Letters of Marque were so disposed of, but the red-and-blue cloth copies appear frequently enough today to suggest that more than the proverbial hundred survived. With the fifteen thousand copies of Volume I of the wrappered London edition, the suppression was more successful: only six copies are now known. (55) The Martindell copy (location unknown) had laid in it a postal card from the publishers to Martindell stating: “With reference to your enquiry, ‘The Letters of Marque No. I’ by Rudyard Kipling were suppressed and destroyed before the work was published” (56) —hence no copies were ever sold.

Kipling also sought and achieved the suppression of a third Wheeler publishing enterprise, The Smith Administration, collecting twenty newspaper sketches satirizing the Indian government’s Private Services Commission, of which 3000 copies were printed in December 1891, (57) and all but five or six destroyed. (58) The Berg Collection copy in the New York Public Library has tipped in a letter dated 4 December 1913 from Kipling to its then owner, Charles Plumptre Johnson, stating: “I’m sure the ‘survival’ of the three copies of the Smith Administration from their well-earned pulping was not due to Sir George Allen but I don’t want to put the actual facts on record. Let’s just say that they survived in the queer way suppressed volumes will.” As noted, even more survived than Kipling and Johnson knew.

Copyright Law and Copyright Editions

The first United States Copyright Act was approved on 31 May 1790, and its fifth section reads: “[N]othing in this act shall be construed to prohibit the importation or vending, reprinting or publishing within the United States of any map, chart, book or books, written, printed or published by any person not a citizen of the Untied States, in foreign parts or places without the jurisdiction of the United States,” As noted by Graham Pollard, this “invitation to reprint the works of English authors could hardly have been phrased more clearly; and the first section [of this law] confines the ownership of copyright to citizens of the United States or residents therein.” (59) This had led to the practice in the first half of the nineteenth century, anticipating Lovell’s royalties plan, of English authors arranging for separate payment from American publishers for advance sheets to facilitate American publication, which resulted in many famous English works having their first book appearance in the United States. (60)
As previously stated, the absence of payment (or of the legal right to it) was not the only grievance. Without copyright the foreign author had no control over anything which he once had printed: there rarely occurred the opportunity to correct or otherwise alter it, and republication could not be stopped. Kipling was not the first to find forgotten juvenilia and immature journalism re-appearing once he became famous: Thackeray, Macaulay and Charles Reade were similarly “pirated”. (61)

Nevertheless, the “serials” reprinting business of publishers like Munro and Lovell was becoming less profitable by the end of the eighteen-eighties, as the demand for titles to meet the frequency of second class postal dispatch outran the supply of readable English novels, and quality necessarily deteriorated. Furthermore, it was belatedly realized by American authors and publishers that lack of copyright was harmful to American literature: how could an unknown author in the United States, who required to be hired and his book thereafter sold, compete with books by authors from Great Britain for which no compensation need be paid?

These circumstances prepared the way for the partial measure of international copyright which became United States law on 1 July 1891. (Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine hailed the legislation’s passage on 3 December 1890 by tipping into its January 1891 issue a leaf entitled “Good News to Literary Workers”; ironically, this page was inserted between a frontispiece portrait of Kipling and the title page of the magazine’s issue of The Light That Failed.) Two sections of this lengthy legislation were to change forever the form and course of Kipling book production. Section 9 established that “Every person who shall print or publish any manuscript whatever without the consent of the author or proprietor first obtained, shall be liable to the author or proprietor for all damages occasioned by such injury.” Section 3 reads:

No person shall be entitled to a copyright unless he shall, on or before the day of publication in this or any foreign country, deliver at the Office of the Librarian of Congress…two copies of such copyright book, map, chart, dramatic or musical composition….Provided, that in the case of a book…the two copies of the same required to be delivered or deposited as above shall be printed from type set within the limits of the United States, or from plates made therefrom….

Reviewing these provisions, Graham Pollard concluded: “The effect of this was to secure the copyright only of those books sufficiently important to be first printed simultaneously in England and in America. The proviso that to secure copyright a book must be printed in U.S.A. was inserted not only to placate the printers and protectionists in general, but also to ensure that the American public was not tied down to paying a guinea and a half each time or going without the English novel….It was possible to avoid having both an English and an American edition separately printed, because English copyright does not depend upon the book having been printed in England. If it was printed in America, English copyright could none the less be secured on the American printed sheets.” (62)

Watt and Kipling thereupon instituted a system of publication of copyright editions in small limitations after 1 July 1891 that was to last well past Kipling’s death in 1936, with the legal requirements detailed in a memorandum entitled ‘Instructions for Copywriting Books to be Published in the United States’ which was composed and distributed by Watt to magazine editors and book publishers of Kipling’s work. (63) On or before the appearance of a short story or poem in a periodical in England, a special copyright issue was often ordered to be prepared, usually in very few copies, by the American magazine or book publisher which was to print the United States periodical appearance. Since the American legal code now demanded “manufacture” by domestic labor as a condition of copyright, this practice permitted Kipling to comply with the law—thereby forestalling any other American publisher’s use of material first appearing in England, or conversely, any English publisher’s appropriation of work first released in the United States—while retaining the freedom for trade volumes of stories or poems to be made up later as Kipling chose to collect them. As summarized by bibliographer A.W. Yeats: “Kipling was determined that the copyright editions be sufficiently restricted so as not to compromise the demand for his trade editions to be issued later. Second, he saw that a few copies of each copyright printing were actually sold to the public, thus satisfying the legal demand that these editions be ‘published’ and not merely ‘printed’.” (64)

Thus, first American editions of Rudyard Kipling titles that are first calendar editions are more numerous than for any other British author. (65) These aggregated one hundred seventeen American titles, in one hundred thirty-nine separate pamphlet or broadside copyright issues (in addition to thirteen English copyright pamphlets prepared at Watt’s direction by Macmillan & Co. and others printed between 1895 and 1912). (66) The first of the American series, His Private Honour, (67) was filed for copyright on 29 September 1891, only sixty days after the effective date of the Copyright Act. Fifteen more titles were produced before 1 January 1900, of which two (Captains Courageous, 1896, seven(?) copies, and The Seven Seas, 1896, six copies) were book-length issues; most were produced in printings of twelve copies or less. In consequence, no library, public or private, has a complete run of all the American and English copyright editions, and even the Library of Congress now appears to have gaps in the series. (68)

Old Battles, New Enemies

Kipling immediately employed the new law: his first American copyrights were granted for fourteen individual stories appearing in Macmillan’s New York edition of Life’s Handicap, published in September 1891 but copyrighted on July 25, within the month of the copyright legislation’s effective date. However, for all the protection the legislation of 1891 afforded new work, of which Kipling and his agent and publishers took full and unusual advantage, its scope was prospective only: material published before its effective date remained subject to reprinting, in whatever form the publisher chose, without recourse by the author. Kipling’s growing reputation was no protection, and indeed exacerbated matters.

The author, visiting in the United States when the International Copyright legislation came into effect, was not slow to protest the anomaly in the law which left his earlier work exposed. In Harper’s Weekly for 4 July 1891 (preceded by appearance in London in The Author for 1 July), Kipling’s satirical poem ‘Some Notes On A Bill’ excoriated the American arrogance in re-arranging and re-spelling the literature of England and concluded: “Oh, the Author’s in the puree, and the deuce is in the Bill, | But the Holy British Novel—yes—it’s wholly British still.”

His worst fears were realized with the unauthorized publication in New York City in October 1895 by G.W. Dillingham of Out of India, (69) comprised of the contents of Letters of Marque and The City of Dreadful Night and Other Places, without those titles, but with changed chapter headings. Mightily irked, the author sent the same letter text on 3 November 1895 to The Nation, The Critic, and the New York Tribune, denying his “knowledge or sanction” of the book, (70) and calling it, in a letter to Century Company publisher Frank Hall Scott, a “hash-up” of newspaper articles written when he was twenty which he used as source material for The Naulahka. (71) Although the title-page says both ‘Copyright’ and ‘All Rights Reserved’, only publisher Dillingham’s book title and new chapter headings to Letters of Marque could be copyrighted (the rest of the text was, under American law, in the public domain). Kipling complained to Scott: “Can’t we get at Dillingham here; because of course there’s no copyright on the thing at all. The thief being barred from running slaves has taken to body-snatching and is peddling corpses—pretty stale ones, too.”

Kipling had two copies of Out of India in his personal library (now the British Library Kipling File), with an ms. note on the flyleaf of one reading: ‘p. 44, p. 55, p. 105, p. 167, p. 182, p. 199; p. 203; p. 279, p. 340 not written by me. R.K.’. and passages on those pages (which do not appear in the A.H. Wheeler edition texts, and are generally only a paragraph or so) are ringed round in ink. On pp. 7, 14, 22, etc., he has also marked the Dillingham-supplied headings to the text comprising Letters of Marque, presumably to indicate they are not his, and against a marked paragraph on p. 229 he has written: ‘a vicious and malignant lie’. However, Kipling did not edit out all of these marked passages when he later collected this material (with alterations) in the two volumes of From Sea To Sea (1899).

Other American piracy examples were to follow, although none of the later unauthorized editions were to have the circulation of American Notes of 1891 or Out of India in 1895. These included a first separate edition of Certain Maxims of Hafiz, the text taken from the 1890 Fourth (First English) edition of Departmental Ditties, appearing in Boston in 1898, in two editions; (72) Kipling’s Poems, published by George M. Hill in Chicago in 1899, (73) reprinting all the headings and verses in the text of Kipling’s stories printed prior to 1 July 1891 (later to be collected by the author in Songs From Books, in 1912), irrespective of the authorship (and thus including items properly attributable to Shakespeare, Longfellow, the Brownings, Christine Rossetti, Bret Harte and others), but constituting the first book printing of ‘Quebec’ (from ‘The Song of the English’) and ‘“Rudyard”’ and ‘“Kipling”’ (later known as ‘The Michigan Twins’, never collected by Kipling); F. Tennyson Neely’s first separate edition of Black Jack (a story from Soldiers Three) published 27 February 1899 (74) , which begins with a paragraph from the First Indian edition omitted when Kipling revised the text in 1895; Alfred Bartlett’s monthly The Cornhill Booklet for August 1900 (75) , devoted solely to Kipling, which included two poems appearing earlier that year in the British war newspaper The Friend, published in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State; and numerous unauthorized reprints of The Vampire and Recessional.
These productions, to the extent known to the author in England, he chose to ignore. Regarding others, he elected to war in the courts. Elbert Hubbard, a magazine and book publisher at the Roycroft Shop in East Aurora, New York, had given Kipling’s poem ‘The Last Chantey’ its first (unauthorized) American printing in Hubbard’s magazine The Philistine in December 1895, retitled as ‘The Dipsy Chanty’. In October 1898 Hubbard brought out a suede-bound book under that name with silk doublures in an edition of 950 copies, priced at $2.00 each, with a further 100 copies, priced at $10.00 the copy, “illumined” with water-color vignettes in the margins; in 1899, Hubbard published a second edition of 950 trade and 80 illumined copies. (76) Except for the title poem, all the contents had been previously published in the United States in Lovell’s Departmental Ditties, Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses of 1890, and in England in Macmillan’s Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads of 1892. Kipling and D. Appleton and Company, the authorized American publisher of The Seven Seas wherein ‘The Last Chantey’ had appeared in 1896, sued Hubbard in U.S. Circuit Court in 1899, by which date all the Roycroft editions had been published; the suit was withdrawn in consideration of the publisher’s allowing an injunction to stand against further publication.

The Osgood Field copy of the 1898 trade edition at Harvard’s Houghton Library contains this inscription on the flyleaf: ‘For issuing this book Rudyard Kipling sued me claiming damages of five thousand dollars. The suit was discontinued upon my paying the attny for Mr. Kipling $63.00. Mr.Kipling has since told me that he did not receive any of the sixty-three. Elbert Hubbard Oct 18th 1901.’ In actuality, Hubbard and Kipling are never known to have met or otherwise corresponded, and Kipling sued for the surrender of all remaining copies, and $47.50 in damages plus costs of the suit; he was awarded $75 in legal fees and the surrender of 169 unsold copies (one of which—a copy of the 1899 trade edition—was in Kipling’s library at his death).

The legal attacks mounted on the publishing houses of R.F. Fenno and G.P. Putnam were both more costly, and to Kipling’s immense chagrin, less successful (although, given the state of the law, it is hard to see how he could have been surprised at the result). Each of these publishers, with their unauthorized editions, was striking at the heart of a major enterprise, the Outward Bound collected edition of Kipling’s works, of which the initial twelve volumes had been brought out by Charles Scribner’s Sons beginning in January 1897. These books, priced at $2.00 the copy, could only be purchased at the Fifth Avenue shop of Scribner’s in New York City or through the publisher’s travelling canvassers by written subscription agreement, and the author not only revised the texts and read the proofs, but consulted on the type, paper and binding style.

In April 1899, R.F. Fenno produced a set of thirteen Kipling titles, uniformly bound in dark blue fine rib cloth, priced at 50 cents each; the Fenno edition of Plain Tales (77) contained all the stories included in the Scribner’s edition, with one additional story not previusly collected, ‘The Last Relief’ (first appearing in Harper’s Weekly for 25 April 1891). In an October 1900 letter to his American copyright lawyer Augustus Gurlitz in preparation for the lawsuit against this pirate, Kipling noted that this magazine piece “of course, has nothing to do with Plain Tales. Another case of ‘editing’.” (In my own copy of the Outward Bound Edition of Plain Tales is tipped an engraved card dated October 2, 1899, from Kipling to J.N. Muller, editor of the New York Press, in which the author writes with reference to the Fenno edition: “the assortment of Kipling material which has been offered to you, is not sanctioned by me in any way whatever. You will observe that it includes matter which has been privately printed. It also includes matter which I have not written—as well as matter copyright in the United States of America.”) In the same month, anticipating Christmas sales, Fenno used the same types for a large paper ‘Library Edition’ with a title page in colored inks and the William Strang portrait of the author inserted as frontispiece, bound in dark green cloth with a gilt medallion portrait of Kipling (after Strang) on the spine, sold at 75 cents a volume.

The author brought suit in Federal District Court in New York City. Affidavits in Rudyard Kipling v. R.F. Fenno & Company were filed on Kipling’s behalf by (among others) Arthur and Charles Scribner, Frank N. Doubleday, Finley Peter Dunne (‘Mr. Dooley’) and Samuel L. Clemens (‘Mark Twain’), and his attorney Gurlitz argued that Kipling’s use of the elephant’s head symbol (also employed by Fenno for his Library Edition) was effectively a common law trademark. Indeed, on 17 December 1900 Kipling filed for formal United States trademark registration for the elephant’s head symbol, which was ultimately successfully registered as Trade Mark No. 35,770 on 15 January 1901. Nevertheless, the court (at 106 F. 692, 26 December 1900) found the proof presented to be insufficient for the trademark claim—although an elephant head medallion was employed by Scribner’s on the 1897 Outward Bound Edition front covers, and thus patently echoed if not copied by Fenno in this 1899 Library Edition produced as a “holiday gift”—and further determined conclusively that Kipling was without copyright protection for the content of all his works published before 1 July 1891 (the effective date of the American law on international copyright protection), and could not otherwise “regulate the manner in which such reprinted matter may be grouped and entitled…[or] restrain any application of the title he selected otherwise than as he used or uses it.”

Fenno (who had previously worked for Lovell’s United States Book Company) successfully argued in his affidavit of 7 December 1900 that these reprinted Kipling texts “were common property and had entered into the public domain and could not be lawfully copyrighted by the plaintiff [Kipling] or any other person,” where their prior publication in periodicals was not or could not on initial appearance be copyrighted in the United States – including “The Last Relief’, published in Harpers Weekly only nine weeks before the copyright law went into effect, but as to which Kipling had asserted through J. Henry Harper’s affidavit that he had “reserve[d] to be published in future collections in appropriate association”. As for the elephant’s head trademark argument, Fenno noted that, prior to the symbol’s use on the Outward Bound Edition, Kipling had never employed the device, except in the six paperbound volumes of the Indian Railway Library, where six different drawings were used, each with a lotus held in the trunk (not the case with Fenno’s cover medallion), and then only in physical proximity with the publisher A.H. Wheeler & Company’s name, not with the author’s name or any book title.

Finally, with justified sarcasm, Fenno observed that the firms of Doubleday, Scribner, Dodd Mead, D. Appleton, Harper, and Macmillan—whose principals were all here testifying for Kipling against Fenno—had themselves published “piratical editions” of Dickens, Thackeray, Macaulay, Austen and Scott, without those authors’ “special consent”. He concluded his affidavit with a “partial list” of unauthorized editions of Kipling’s works then available for sale, including some forty-three other named series, all purchasable at bookstores or newsstands at much less cost than Scribner’s $2-per-volume Outward Bound set, sold only by canvassers for full-set subscription. Also testifying in this suit on defendant Fenno’s behalf were other American publishers with unauthorized Kipling printings, including George Dunlap of Grosset & Dunlap and Simon Brentano of Brentano’s.

Kipling’s motion against Fenno for temporary injunctive relief failed in December 1900, and the subsequent bench trial also ended in defeat, on 22 May 1901. Shortly before, Kipling had written from England to Samuel Clemens (who, according to the New York Tribune for 13 March, had testified that there was “no difference between counterfeiting a label on a book, a box of blacking, or a bottle of whiskey”) to thank him very heartily for the help you have given me by your testimony in my small suit against Fenno the Benevolent Publisher: and I am also immensely pleased to see by the papers that you, on your own account, are chasing a Fenno through the swampy ground of the law. If you catch him will you please scalp him for me and I’ll give you half of G. H. Putnam’s scalp—when I get it….I am a little wearied of the game which I began on the basest of all motives—from an earnest desire to benefit my profession. Up to date it has cost me about $7,500 and two years of worry…. (78)

Kipling was, if possible, even angrier with George Haven Putnam, son of the founder of the American publisher G.P. Putnam and head of that house. At the beginning of 1899 Putnam had published the so-called “Brushwood Edition” of Kipling’s works, made up of unbound sheets of the American editions already widely circulated throughout the United States by Kipling’s various authorized publishers, including Macmillan in New York, D. Appleton and Company, and The Century Company. Although Putnam paid them the market price and so provided a royalty to the author (this collected edition was thus not a piracy, and its promotion was well within customary commercial limits), Kipling sued Putnam in Federal circuit court to enjoin the Brushwood Edition’s publication, viewing its appearance as yet another attack on the prospects of the official Outward Bound Edition.

Kipling outlined his grounds for suit in a long letter published in The Author for July 1899, forwarded to editor Walter Besant (whom Kipling had satirized in ‘The Rhyme of the Three Captains’) under cover of a letter saying “I believe he [Putnam] is a sensitive little devil to boot.” He vented his personal frustration the same month by printing on his newly-arrived small printing press at the Elms in Rottingdean, in perhaps two copies on brown toilet paper, a savage 135-word attack on the antecedents, character and commercial ethics of his antagonist, which begins: ‘George Haven Putnam was born of poor but most disreputable parents. This was done in the Retail Department, without his knowledge.’ (S.S. McClure’s copy, now in Harvard’s Houghton Library and apparently the sole surviving original, was itself reprinted in a pirated facsimile edition on serrated soft white toilet paper in an edition of fifty copies in the early nineteen-twenties, and the facsimile’s text was deemed so scandalous that it was withdrawn from the auction sales of McCutcheon and Engel Kipling collections, and banned from the 1930 Grolier Club Kiping exhibition (79) ).

Neither private nor public animus prevailed: the Putnam suit was also decided against Kipling at the trial court level, in May 1901. The author decided to appeal, still hoping to establish boundaries which could not be crossed by the unauthorized publishers: in an undated letter to attorney Gurlitz, sold at Sotheby’s in 1990 with a collection of 31 letters written to Gurlitz on copyright matters, Kipling had written of his legal bewilderment: “this faking of editions has so hideously confused me that I do not know precisely where I stand in regard to books already published….” In his letter to Gurlitz of 29 July 1901, directing prosecution of the appeal, he observed: “It seems to me that the issues involved affect English and American authors alike so vitally that I dare not, in justice to my own profession, let the matter be decided once and for all on a single judge….” On 16 August 1903 he reconciled himself to the final unsatisfactory result: “The best thing is to accept our defeat and to say no more about it. At the same time, may I hope that you will continue to take that interest in the copyright side of my works which has been of so much value to me in the past?” (80) Gurlitz continued to work for Kipling, keeping a careful log of all his copyrights as each was secured.

Private Presses and Collectors

Kipling was also subject to unauthorized publication by his admirers. Indeed, a case can be made that this author’s first unauthorized publishers were his parents: when he discovered that they had printed Schoolboy Lyrics in Lahore without their absent son’s prior knowledge, while the fifteen year old poet was attending the United Services College at Westward Ho! In Devon, he was furious, telling his mother sulkily that “she had taken and made use of something he needed and valued”. (81) By the late eighteen-nineties, rare book dealers and collectors were first taking their own liberties.

The British bibliophile Thomas J. Wise was no admirer, thinking Kipling much over-rated (82) , but the author was already collected in America and his works had begun to appear at auction at Sotheby’s by the end of 1898. Wise printed his first Kipling piracy, White Horses, (83) “specially and successfully designed for the rare book market”, (84) in an edition of perhaps 100 copies, “Printed For Private Circulation” but self-proclaimed to have been copyrighted in the United States by Kipling in 1897 (and thus vaguely resembling the American copyright issues which had begun to appear in 1891). Anonymous presentation of a copy was made to the British Museum on 8 January 1898, and this edition appeared in publisher John Lane’s bibliography of Kipling in Andrew Lang’s book on the author published in 1900. The first auction copy (probably consigned by Wise) appeared in London at Bang’s on 26 November 1900, but Wise preferred to sell privately to collectors such as American John Henry Wrenn. Wise charged that purchaser £10 in December 1904 for copies of White Horses and his second Kipling piracy, The White Man’s Burden, describing them as “private printed pamphlets, of which a mere handful of copies were struck off for copyright purposes,” (86) and noting the first title’s presence in Luther Livingston’s 1901 Dodd Mead catalogue The Works of Rudyard Kipling. (87) With The White Man’s Burden, printed by Wise sometime in 1899, (88) the English pirate was equally devious: without reference to American copyright, this pamphlet was initially believed to be an English copyright edition. The Bodleian copy at Oxford University was presented anonymously on 17 July 1899 (just sixteen days after the true American copyright edition appeared in New York, and nine days after the poem’s newspaper appearance in London), and the British Museum copy (C.59.g.15) was presented anonymously on 11 March 1899; the Cambridge University copy (Syn.6.91.20/17) was openly presented on 1 September 1916 by Wise, with his misleading autograph note on the wrapper: “printed, I believe, in Chicago…”

Flora Livingston in her 1927 Bibliography was the first to identify both titles as “pirated”, and played a key role thereafter in helping Carter and Pollard to expose Wise as a forger and pirate in their 1934 book which ended his career in bibliophilistic crime. In May of 1910 Wise had sold his remaining 57 copies of White Horses and 30 copies of The White Man’s Burden to his former clerk Harold Gorfin, then setting up as a bookdealer. Gorfin later anonymously placed copies out for auction sales (where prices reached upwards of £25 in the mid-20’s) but after Wise’s exposure by Carter & Pollard, Wise repurchased the balance of Gorfin’s stock, which was destroyed by Wise’s solicitor as a condition of the transaction. Kipling seems never to have made any comment on these Wise editions, leaving their descriptions unannotated in the family copy of Martindell’s Bibliography of 1923, although other editions (such as the Neely Black Jack) are marked “Pirated” in Carrie Kipling’s hand. (89)

Another unauthorized publisher of 1899, although more benign in intent, was Luther Livingston, then living in Scarsdale, New York as a rare book cataloguer at New York City bookseller Dodd, Mead and husband to Flora Livingston; she was to accompany him to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1914 upon his appointment as first librarian of the Widener Library at Harvard and, after his death that very year, spend the balance of her own life working there, among other things on her two-volume bibliography of Kipling. Luther Livingston’s series in The Bookman entitled “First Books of Great Authors” included in December 1899 a piece entitled “Rudyard Kipling’s First Book”, which the author reprinted in pamphlet form from the types of the magazine in an edition stated to be twenty copies (actually twenty-seven, as indicated in the annotated colophon in Flora’s copy now at Harvard). This book constitutes the first American printings of ‘Roses’ and ‘The Dusky Crew’ from Schoolboy Lyrics, and of four complete items and six other extracts from the United Services College Chronicle, and was prepared as a Christmas favor to fellow bibliophiles, who received presentation copies. In a letter to one, (90) Livingston called it his “effort at making a ‘scarce first edition’”, as the “poems and prose extracts from the ‘United Services College Chronicle’ were first printed ‘in book form’ in this little pamphlet.” This attitude proved to be something of a leitmotif for Kipling collectors and academics producing unauthorized, limited editions in the years to come.

Livingston was the anonymous editor, if not the prime mover, of another limited edition in 1901, with a bookdealer’s catalogue produced for Dodd, Mead entitled The Works of Rudyard Kipling The Description Of A Set Of The First Editions Of His Books, In The Library Of A New York Collector With Facsimiles (the private collection which was thus described was sold before the catalogue appeared). The edition of 77 copies, including 12 on Japan paper, included in its description of the student Kipling’s copy of Milton’s Comus, a printing in full, and reproduction in facsimile of one of three pages of verse in what is thought to be Kipling’s hand of an untitled poem beginning “In a high-art study” (as well as a facsimile page of the schoolboy’s “comical pencil drawings”, making this the first Kipling-illustrated book, prior to Just So Stories). (91) A further remarkable distinction of this book is the incorporation of twelve facsimile front covers of Kipling’s work in wrappers, from Schoolboy Lyrics through The City of Dreadful Night, printed on colored papers replicating the originals—a feature which was happily echoed by Luther’s wife Flora when she produced her own Kipling bibliography in 1928. If the author knew of Luther Livingston’s catalogue (and it is difficult to believe he did not), he never seems to have protested the publication, presumably recognizing it for the hagiography it was.
In 1906 appeared A Letter From Rudyard Kipling On A Possible Source Of The Tempest, a Christmas keepsake in 52 copies produced by Edwin Collins Frost, the Shakespearian librarian for American book collector Marsden Perry of Providence, Rhode Island (where this book was printed). (92) The letter is Kipling’s meditation on Shakespeare’s inspiration for The Tempest, written to the Spectator after a trip to Bermuda in 1894, and Frost wrote the author for permission to reprint. Kipling’s letter of response, dated 22 March 1906 and bound with Frost’s presentation copy of the book to his wife, (93) lodged no objection to “a limited edition just for presents…It’s not a thing I should at all care to have sold as it is only of interest to Shakespeare cranks. If you’d send me two or three copies I’d be grateful”(emphasis in original). Frost seems to have complied (Kipling kept one copy and presented another (94) ), and according to Frost’s collaborator George Parker Winship, the remaining copies “all…went to acquaintances [of the printers Frost and Winship]—mostly college professors.” (95)

Winship, the Assistant Librarian at Harvard College, was not so scrupulous as Frost, in reprinting in 1923, without prior permission of or notification to the author, Kipling’s Advice To The “Hat”, consisting of texts of a letter written to Kipling by the local postmaster of Medicine Hat in the province of Alberta, Canada, and the author’s answer deprecating the suggestion that the town’s name be changed to something less colorful. (96) Winship’s initialled public preface is written in the same spirit as Luther Livingston’s private justification for his separate edition of Rudyard Kipling’s First Book: “This little tract for the times is printed in order that certain gentlemen who are known to their intimate acquaintances as ‘Kipling fans’ may possess a ‘first (separate) edition’ which some of their rivals in the engrossing game of book collecting will not be able to buy.” The number of copies is unknown, (97) but is estimated at 60 or less. (The Winship family’s fascination with Kipling pre-dated this edition: the printing press of Winship’s The Sign of the George was technically the property of George Parker Winship, Jr., as the hand press was a Christmas gift when he was six years old, and its very first book, in 1920, was the younger Winship’s How The Monkey Got Its Tail, echoing the Just So Stories. (98) )

American first or first separate editions, all unauthorized, also appeared in the United States over the years, especially concentrated in the 1920’s: The Courting of Dinah Shadd. A Contribution to a Bibliography of the Writings of Rudyard Kipling (120 numbered copies in March 1898 at the Marion Press, Jamaica, Queens, New York, sold by subscription) (99) ; In Sight of Mount Monadnock (copy limitation unknown, in 1904 by The Cornhill Press, Boston, (100) and again in 1914 but cover dated 1894 in an edition of 40 copies (101) ); The Explorer (25 copies printed in August 1911 at the Montague Press, in Montague, Massachusetts, by Carl Purington Rollins, who became Printer to Yale University in 1920) (102) ; A Letter By Rudyard Kipling Concerning A Proposal To Buy The Cottage In Which Edgar Allen Poe Wrote Ullalume (copy limitation unknown, privately printed in 1924 in Chicago for distribution to his friends by Kipling collector W.M. Carpenter, whose Kipling collection was presented to the Library of Congress in 1941) (103) ; Some Notes On A Bill (100 numbered copies in July 1920 printed by the Pulaski Press in Little Rock, Arkansas, for The Incunabula Bookshop) (104) L’Envoi (beginning ‘What is the moral’, copy limitation unknown, a facsimile of a Kipling manuscript printed by Carpenter’s firm, American Crossarm & Conduit Co., Chicago, no date) (105) ; Putnam (50 copies, printed in 1923 or before in New York City by Max Harzof, owner of the antiquarian bookshop and auction house G.A. Baker & Company) (106) ; The Glory of the Garden (copy number unknown, a broadside printed in 1923 on Van Gelder paper in proof and Japan vellum in final by printer Walter Gillis ) (107) ; “After” A False Start (copy limitation unknown, printed at Dover, Massachusetts by George Parker Winship in 1924, an edited facsimile of a discarded draft of the first three stanzas of ‘Recessional’, with the third, cancelled stanza reconstructed by Flora Livingston) (108) ; The Potted Princess (66 numbered copies, “Privately Printed” in New York by an unknown press) (109) ; Collah-Wallah And The Poison Stick (66 numbered copies, also in 1925, printed in New York by the same anonymous printer) (110) ; Rudyard Kipling In San Francisco (50 copies in December 1926, printed by Heywood H. Hunt for presentation) (111) ; The Legs of Sister Ursula (500 hand-number copies in 1927 in San Francisco printed by the Brothers Johnson at the Windsor Press) (112) ; A Tour of Inspection (93 numbered copies, “Privately Printed [by the Anthoensen Press in Boston] in 1928) (113) ; The Lamentable Comedy of Willow Wood (100 numbered copies, printed in March 1929 by The Windsor Press in San Francisco) (114) ; Kipling’s College (100 copies, printed in 1929 by the Alderbrink Press of Chicago for W.M. Carpenter) (115) ; A Few Significant and Important Kipling Items (500 copies, printed in February 1930 by the Alderbrink Press for the Special Book Co. of Chicago, owned by W. M. Carpenter) (116) ; The Benefactors (91 copies, printed in New York in 1930 “for private distribution”, printer unknown) (117) ; Kipling Speaks To The Young Man (167 copies, printed in 1939 in Herrin, Illinois, by the Trovillion Private Press) (118) ; and The Mother Hive (copy limitation unknown, printed by The Norman Press of Chicago in December 1939 for distribution as a Christmas keepsake).
However, the American limited edition appearing between the two World Wars which is best known and most valued among collectors, On Dry-Cow Fishing As A Fine Art, (119) published in March 1926 in an edition of 176 copies by The Rowfant Club, a prestigious book-collectors group in Cleveland, Ohio, received the author’s explicit permission for its issue. This tale of how an angler hooked a cow, first appearing in The Fishing Gazette for 13 December 1890, had not been collected by Kipling when he was contacted by Rowfant member Paul Lemperly to produce this edition under the Club’s auspices. (120) Renowned American book designer Bruce Rogers designed the work, printed on Dutch paper at the Printing House of William E. Rudge in Mount Vernon, New York. Of the 176 copies, 162 were sold by subscription to Club members, 5 went to designer Rogers, 1 to Flora Livingston, 2 were retained for the Club archives, and 6 went to Kipling (2 are still in the British Library Kipling File).

The Last Skirmishes

Although the licensees of the Lovell plates continued to produce cheap editions of Kipling’s pre-1892 work well into the twentieth century, and other pirates produced their own sets of the non-copyright titles, (121) after the expensive (and failed) campaigns against Fenno and Putnam, the author’s legal wars were not so much battles as skirmishes.

In 1904 Alfred Bartlett, publisher of the Cornhill Press referenced above, produced in an edition of 1000 copies a gray-boarded edition of The Gypsy Trail, printed by Carl Rollins at the Montague Press (also referenced above) (122) ; in 1905, using the Village Press of printer Fred Goudy, he produced a second, undated edition in 1000 copies, (123) as well as a dated “large paper” edition for Christmas distribution in 39 copies. (124) Kipling had yet to reprint the poem (first published in The Century for December 1890, it was not collected by Kipling until 1919, in Inclusive Verse) when Bartlett published a third edition in 1909, respelled The Gipsy Trail, with a frontispiece by W.A. Dwiggins, on which Bartlett filed for copyright. (125) Kipling pursued Bartlett, and in 1919 finally forced an assignment of any alleged right that publisher claimed in the author’s poem, which Kipling caused to be recorded in the Library of Congress; the publisher claimed that the plates were now destroyed or lost, and agreed to turn over to Kipling’s American publisher Doubleday Page the remaining copies. (125) The green-wrappered copy in the Ransom Center at the University of Texas has this manuscript note: “1000 copies printed, but on acct. of infringement of copyright, all were destroyed save 50 or 60 – Dwiggins.” (127)

More serious than Bartlett’s tiny editions (in both senses) of The Gypsy Trail was the publication by New York’s B.W. Dodge & Company of Abaft The Funnel in October 1909. (128) The title was first used for a series of eight stories written by Kipling for the Civil and Military Gazette during his journey in 1889 from India to England, and these had been collected in India by that newspaper in its quarterly Turnovers (1889-90, Vols. V, VI, and VII). Dodge appropriated the title for this unauthorized collection of thirty stories and one poem, the latter and twenty-three of the stories having previously appeared in Turnovers, and the seven others (in their first book publication anywhere) being taken from the affiliated Indian newspapers The Week’s News and the Pioneer.

According to Luther Livingston’s letter of 11 October 1912 to Col. W.F. Prideaux (whose bibliography of R.L. Stevenson was later revised by Flora Livingston), the text of Abaft The Funnel was made up of typescripts assembled from the Indian newspaper editions by Livingston (while his Dodd, Mead catalogue included a complete set of Turnovers, as to which he had noted that “[m]any have, apparently, never been reprinted”) and his wife Flora (later the distinguished Kipling bibliographer, who does not mention this enterprise in her description of Abaft The Funnel); the couple sold them to the publisher, Luther Livingston wrote, without knowing what use was to be made of them. Dodge’s motive is patent from the disingenuous Preface, signed by ‘A.F. (Arthur Fremont Rider, according to a Yale University Library card catalogue note): ‘When the earlier work of any writer is gathered together in more enduring form, catering to the enthusiasm of his readers in his maturer years, there is always a suspicion that the venture is purely a commercial one, without literary justification. Fortunately these stories of Mr. Kipling’s form their own best excuse for this, their first appearance in book form.” Dodge’s copyright filing could cover only this Preface, since the rest of the book, under American copyright law, was in the public domain.

In Kipling’s copy of this book now in the British Library, he has written on the title page: ‘pirated out of old Pioneeer files RK’, and underlined passages on pp. 72, 83, 142, 163, 184, 190, 193, and 195 (which are mostly errors in printing affecting sense). In the author’s letter to the Literary Editor of the Boston Evening Transcript, he noted that the book “was, of course, issued without any knowledge, consent or authorization, and, so far as I can judge, without a proof reader. It looks as though someone had raked the file of the Indian newspapers which I had the honour to serve twenty odd years ago, and had extracted such works of mine as he could lay hands on. Past experience has shown me that mere protest is useless. I have therefore instructed my own publishers (Doubleday, Page & Co.) to produce the same volume in the hope of showing bookmakers like the Dodge Company the commercial inexpediency of an enterprise which they have, unhumorously, marked ‘copyright’.” On that direction, Doubleday issued an edition of the same material under the same title on cheap paper, to retail at 19 cents the copy (130) (far undercutting the Dodge issue, priced at $1.50).
Kipling’s warning to other would-be excavators of his newspaper files could not have been more clear: as proven by this hasty Doubleday edition, brought out the month after the Dodge issue, Kipling could and would command his authorized American publisher to counter with a competing edition, without regard to purchase price, sold even at a loss. The ‘Author’s Note’ before the Contents page in the Doubleday edition makes the point more decorously: ‘Messrs. B.W. Dodge & Company have issued without my knowledge or sanction the following odds and ends unearthed from the newspaper files of twenty years ago, and therefore unprotected by copyright. I never should have reprinted them, but Messrs. Dodge enterprise compels me to do so. Rudyard Kipling. October 1909.’ To Kipling, it must have seemed not much had changed since he was writing the letters which appeared as prefaces to John W. Lovell’s editions some two decades earlier. The warning, however, was heeded: after Dodge’s Abaft The Funnel, no American publisher ever again brought out an unauthorized trade edition of Kipling’s previously unpublished journalism.

His aggravation continued regarding the flood of editions of his “ten ante-copyright books.” In an undated (and apparently unpublished) letter to Messrs. Doubleday, McClure & Co., presumably written in connection with that firm’s 1899 publication of the 6-volume ‘Authorized Edition’ (131) , he said: “I am grateful to you for giving the public this edition of such works of mine as appeared in the United States previous to the passage of the Copyright Act. I have for many years suffered from unauthorized or pirated editions of those books, which have been advertised as special or limited editions….They contain inaccuracies and interpolations as well as changes of title; and have been re-arranged and cut about to suit the needs of self-styled ‘publishers’. The reading public in the United States does not know these facts, and I am glad to be able in this edition of my ten ante-copyright books (132) to give them an edition which I have supervised and arranged.” (133)

The publication of the Authorized Edition, however, could not stem the tide of cheap unauthorized editions, and Watt and Doubleday and the Kiplings continued to mull over strategies to thwart the pirates’ commerce. In a letter to Watt dated 5 July 1912, Frank Doubleday wrote:

I think I have sent you enough samples to make it quite plain that a lot of Kipling books are made and sold at practically manufacturing cost, and sometimes are sold at less than cost when the pirate prints a lot and has to get money. We could not by any chance kill pirates who simply are closing out odd stock to get money. What I would suggest is that you give us authority and your approval, if you feel like doing so, to meet competition of any Kipling pirate, with the understanding that we take the loss if any. (134)

Watt replied on 19 July 1912, quoting Caroline Kipling’s direct response to Doubleday’s plan, in her Rudyard-designated role as the chair of the Kipling family Committee of Ways and Means: (135)

“I should be glad if you would write to Mr. Doubleday that his proposal does not particularly smile upon us, that I feel there is a decided disadvantage from our point of view in becoming competitors against ourselves with the authorised editions of the books, and I would like him to realise the pirate matter from that point of view also. It really does not matter to us who sells five thousand copies of a book if it competes against the authorised edition. Mr. Kipling and I both see that the pirates must not be allowed an unfettered career and we should like to try the experiment and have some report of what happens when we do not meet all of these editions.”

Watt added a P.S.:


I am inclined to agree with what I take to be Mr. & Mrs. Kipling’s view, that if a pirate produces, say, five thousand copies of one or more of the non-copyright books at a low price, it does not help matters very much from our point of view to increase the competition with the authorised editions by adding another five thousand cheap books to those already thrown on the market by the pirates. (136)

It would seem that, while Doubleday and the Kiplings continued to fret over such competition in discussions on Doubleday’s trips to England, the Watt summary view prevailed: cheap Doubleday reprints would harm rather than preserve the franchise, and so what could not be corrected must be endured.

For the Record: A Rear-Guard Action

One arena did remain in which Kipling hoped to put paid to his pirate tormentors: that of his formal bibliography. As the first English author to win the Nobel Prize for literature, Kipling could expect that his many works would be subject to systematic description, but standards for inclusion might vary. A “first edition” means, roughly speaking, the first appearance of the work in question, independently, between its own covers (whether wrappers or boards, but not including periodicals), and bibliographies are at a minimum detailed checklists of all of an author’s first editions. However, the “question When is a first edition not a first edition? is a favorite debating exercise among bibliographers and advanced collectors”, (137) and an entire series of classification concepts has developed to complicate the debate.

One such controversy has been known as “follow the flag”, which raged during the 1930’s, and endures to this day among collectors of English and American first editions of the 19th and 20th centuries. As well stated by Carter: “The question at stake is whether the axiom that first means first is, or is not, to be modified when a book is first published (whether by arrangement, by accident or by piracy) elsewhere than in the author’s own country.” (138) If the bibliographer “follows the flag”, then an English author’s first editions are—and can only ever be—his English editions, and “true firsts” from other nations fall outside the canon.

Although Kipling’s first serious bibliographer (and later pirate publisher), E. W. Martindell, generally ignored American editions where there was a roughly contemporaneous English edition (and always assumed the English to be the first published even when that was not chronologically true), when he published his Bibliography in 1922 (enlarged and reprinted in 1923), he included Kipling first editions which were published in the United States and had no British counterpart, describing The Courting of Dinah Shadd (in the text for which he quotes Kipling’s accusation of “literary piracy”), Ivers’ American Notes, the Hurst edition of Mine Own People (as a “pirated edition”, but wrongly identified as to primacy), (139) In Sight of Mount Monadnock (“both these pamphlets are fakes…and both emanate from America”), Dillingham’s Out of India, Neely’s Black Jack, Hubbard’s The Dipsy Chanty, and Dodge’s Abaft the Funnel (“a ‘pirate’ edition”). (He also included the suppressed Indian editions and that pirated oddity from Santiago, Chile, With Number Three, Surgical And Medical, And New Poems, published by a Mr. Hume, the proprietor of Santiago’s chief bookstore, “from patriotic motives”.) (140) Martindell’s bibliography, in its first (1922) edition, listed only 219 items, including then uncollected contributions to books and periodicals.

Kipling’s next bibliographer Flora Livingston, a professional in the field and understandably more knowledgeable about American pirate editions, not only had before her Martindell’s example of giving the imprimatur to unauthorized editions (and no later bibliographer will ignore a predecessor’s listing, if only to correct or refute it), but chose as well to repudiate completely the “follow the flag” course, (141) including in her work American and Canadian no less than Indian and English first editions, and describing in meticulous detail variants, separate issues—and piracies. In consequence, her 1927 first volume, published only five years after Martindell, lists 504 Kipling titles.

Being scholarly as well as ecumenical in approach, the Harvard librarian sought Kipling’s help through Watt, in a long series of letters beginning in 1919 (we have only Watt’s side of the correspondence). When she first suggested to Watt that the modern collector wanted “particulars of the American as well as the English editions,” the literary agent had a firm editorial direction which almost certainly emanated verbatim from his client:

I don’t know whether, in speaking of American editions, you mean authorised American editions or all American editions. As you are probably aware there are many American editions of Mr. Kipling’s earlier and non-copyright stories which have been published without his sanction or knowledge. If the latter are to be included in your bibliography, may I suggest that a special section of your book be devoted to them and that it might perhaps be headed “Pirate Editions, or Theft under American Copyright”, with a sub-title, “What Happens to an Author’s Work when published without his Permission or Knowledge.” (142)

In the words of Genesis, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” The letter continues:

As I think you are aware, it is not so much to correct any errors that there may be in it, that Mr. Kipling would like to see whether he is willing to have certain things published. This, of course, is as much in your interest as Mr. Kipling’s as you might unwittingly include matter which would involve you in copyright difficulties.

In the event, Mrs. Livingston held her ground: she sent proof sheets for Kipling’s review, but seems not to have omitted anything to avoid his displeasure (except perhaps Putnamand Winship’s “After”). The author, through Watt, “definitely decided that he cannot authorise your book in any way whatever,” and refused to allow her to use “a few quotations to show the difference between the English and American editions”; (143) he asked that she “cut out your list of periodicals altogether” (144) and to omit the American publication of certain magazine articles (145) (suggestions in which she acquiesced). Perhaps there was the hint of the author’s disapproval in the letter from Watt of 19 January 1927: “I am sure that Mr. Kipling or, at any rate, Mrs. Kipling would greatly appreciate it if you would send them a copy of your Bibliography as you so kindly suggest.” (146)

On the other hand, there is also some evidence that Mr. Kipling ultimately recognized that the claims of literary history had merit, and that only discussion of the pirated editions permitted clear identification of authentic, authorized work. In connection with the great Grolier Club exhibition of Kipling’s works mounted in 1929 in New York City, the Club published in 1930, in addition to its Catalogue of the show, a companion volume by Admiral Lloyd H. Chandler, A Summary of the Work of Rudyard Kipling Including Items Ascribed To Him. In presentation copies to several of his friends, Chandler proudly included a typescript of a letter received from Kipling dated 23 October 1930, in which the author wrote to Chandler: “It is a wonderful piece of work, and must have been specially difficult as so much of my work has been published in so many different places and without signature….I wish from a selfish point of view that there had been more about Pirated editions. Some of these include interpolations and additions which I never wrote.” (147)

The Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means was less forgiving. After Kipling’s death, Mrs. Livingston sought Watt’s opinion on the treatment to be accorded in her Supplement (appearing in 1938) to the 142 pirated pamphlets reproducing uncollected magazine and newspaper work, appearing in London between 1922 and 1935 and prepared in very small editions (10 or 12) by E.W. Martindell and the leading American Kipling collector Ellis Ames Ballard. (148) Kipling while alive had objected violently to their production but could find no legal grounds to suppress them (they were not formally “for sale”, although Martindell and Ballard seem to have retailed them to fellow collectors, and thus unavailable to the general public). (149)

Watt, implicitly recognizing Livingston’s autonomy as bibliographer, wrote Carrie Kipling: It seems to me that Mrs. Livingston has two alternatives in this matter, either to ignore them or to put it in with a note to the effect that it is a pirated, or unauthorised version. I am rather inclined to favor the latter course which would prevent dealers from saying in future ‘Not in Livingston’, and so endeavouring to give the pirate stuff a fictitious value.

She responded to him, as Watt reported to Livingston, that the second was the better course, (150) and this was what Mrs. Livingston ultimately did, under the heading ‘Pirated Pamphlets, 1922-1935’, noted as being printed “without consulting Kipling.”

In his Bibliographical Catalogue published two decades later in 1959, James McG. Stewart forcefully and pithily stated the modern view of the nature of the Martindell-Ballard pamphlets, but in so doing, neatly formulated as well the importance of including the publications of both the commercial pirates and the amateur enthusiasts in any comprehensive survey of the first editions of Rudyard Kipling:

The position taken here…is that they [the Martindell-Ballard printings] are much less important than ordinary unauthorized issues. When a collector, in order to gratify his desire for a unique item, has a single copy printed without the author’s permission, the item lacks positive value or importance for bibliographical purposes….These items differ fundamentally from ‘pirate’ editions printed for sale, no matter how small the edition may be. They differ also, but not so sharply, from printings made for private distribution. The latter owe their existence to an enthusiasm which takes the place of the profit motive prompting the publication of the ordinary pirated issues. (151)


Perhaps Kipling, finished at last with his war with the pirates and reviewing the earthly bibliographical landscape from a well-earned place in the authors’ Valhalla, would find this to be a fair judgment.


David Alan Richards