The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

practical wisdom

Dickinson is not known to have met with the new and exciting novels by American women that dominated the market in the 1850s, many of them patterned after The Wide, Wide World by Susan Warner: perhaps they were secured out by Amherst’s tastemakers. Whatever the explanation, most of the women’s books that crossed Dickinson’s path at this time came from England and were pitched to the religious trade.

—Alfred Habegger (My Wars are Laid away in Books)
p. 248

Dare I suggest that the prevalence of English authors in the books read by Emily Dickinson was due to the lack of a copyright agreement between England and the USA in the nineteenth century, which would make (‘pirated’) works by English authors substantially less expensive for an American reader than the works of the reader’s compatriots? Just a thought.

(cf. Emerson’s English Traits: ‘Every book we read, every biography, play, romance, in whatever form, is still English history and manners. So that a sensible Englishman once said to me, ‘As long as you do not grant us copyright, we shall have the teaching of you’.’)


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