From the Southworthiana Collection 1
November 29, 2010
I thought I’d present items from my personal collection of Southworthiana from time to time as a feature on the blog. I’ve been collecting Southworth material since the mid-1990s, starting with various editions of her novels (mostly discovered in antique shops and from internet sites like Abebooks), which I now have boxes and boxes of in my house. While editions of her books still catch my eye (just the other day I found a copy of Old Neighborhoods and New Settlements, her 1853 short story collection published by Hart, on ebay), I’ve mostly been searching for other types of items–autographs, letters, and other ephemera–in recent years, and I’ve been lucky to acquire some interesting things.
One interesting acquisition was this booksellers’ signage for the Street and Smith paperback editions of Southworth’s novels from the 1910’s.
The sign’s declaration that Southworth’s “complete works” equals “91 titles” is rather problematic and has surely added to the bibliographical nightmare for scholars attempting to get an accurate count of Southworth’s work. Throughout her career (and especially into the twentieth century), many of Southworth’s longer novels were divided up into two or three separate titles and in some of these editions, like Street and Smith’s, other shorter works previously only included in collections were published as separate paperbacks. Thus, while there were 91 separate paperbacks authored by Southworth sold in this edition, it would be a mistake to say Southworth wrote 91 novels. It’s more likely that the total number of her novels is somewhere in the 50 to 60 range. Luckily, there are a pair of meticulous bibliographers currently at work on an accurate bibliography of her work. I’ll look forward to seeing their final verdict on the total number of Southworth’s works when they are finished.