Life & the Libraries

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HENRY GEORGE BOHN:  a biographical note

by Derek Jones



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Henry Bohn claimed to have been descended from a family named Bohun which fled from England during the persecution of the Protestants during the reign of Queen Mary.  He said that they acquired estates at Weinheim, north of Heidelberg, which they lost when his grandfather became a Lutheran.  His father John Henry Martin Bohn was at school in Munster with Klemens Fürst von Metternich, the future Count and Austrian statesman.  There he learnt bookbinding and Metternich shoemaking, as it was customary for all classes of boys to learn a trade.  It is recorded that many years later when Metternich met his school friend in London, he said “Who would have thought you would turn your craft to such a businesslike account?” 

 The growing unrest following the French Revolution and the invasion of Westphalia were reasons enough for John Bohn to find a new life in England.  He came to London in 1795 and settled in Soho, home of many other émigrés, establishing a bookbinding business at 31 Frith Street.  He married Elizabeth Watt a niece of James Watt the engineer and developer of steam engines.  His bookbinding business flourished;  he became well known for his ‘spring backs’, tree marbling, his devised system of diamond graining for calf bindings and silk linings. 

 On 4 January 1796 his first son Henry George was born.  John and Elizabeth had six other children:  James George Stuart Burges, John Hutton, Frederick Charles Joseph Adolph, Mary Ann, Harriet Elizabeth and Lydia Marina. 

 James (1803-80) was educated at Winchester then to Gottingen to perfect French and German.  He assisted his father, then in 1834 commenced bookselling on his own account at 12 King William Street.  His great knowledge of books soon attracted many customers and his shop became a meeting place for a number of learned men of the day.  In 1840 he published a catalogue[1] of 792 pages which included much valuable matter as the nearly complete lists of books by Burnet, Defoe, Hearne, etc.  However he was not successful at business and in 1845 had to recommence trading at 60 St James’s Street and here he republished Dugdale’s Monasticon in 8 folio vols.  After again being unsuccessful, he gave up his shop in 1847 and turned his attention to literature and was a contributor for many years to The Family Herald and acted as assistant editor on The Reader.[2]  In 1857 he prepared for Mr David Knutt a catalogue of theological books in foreign languages.[3]  For several years before his decease he was in the employment of his friend Mr Nicholas Trubner of Ludgate Hill.  Here he compiled several catalogues of Brazilian, Mexican, Spanish, Portugese, Latin, German and French books.  John managed his father’s business up to the time of his decease in 1843 after which he joined his brother James at Sotherby’s.[4]  Frederick died comparatively young.  Mary married Francis Murgee and lived abroad.  Harriet and Lydia were unmarried in 1843.  In his will John made provision for his surviving children:  he left £5,000 (the equivalent of £215,000 today) each to his daughters Harriet and Lydia to be invested to provided income with particular provisions to ensure that any future husband or husbands did not have any claims, to his married daughter Mary he left an equal share of the remaining estate, which was divided between her and her three brothers, likewise to be invested to provide income for her use only.

 Eventually a move to 17 and 18 Henrietta Street by John and Elizabeth permitted bookselling to be added to the binding business.  Initially he specialised in the classics and in foreign books which he acquired, probably from émigrés in the area.


 Henry was educated at the expense of George III and at the age of sixteen began to work for his father, but soon after his independence of character caused him to leave Henrietta Street for a post in a City mercantile house.  Although he made good progress, his father persuaded him to return to take part in his business.  John Bohn had received the appointment of Court bookseller.  Stocks of foreign books were low in England due to the restrictions on trade caused by the Napoleonic wars.  By 1816 (or perhaps earlier if the story of him being the only bidder at an auction in Leipzig on the day of the battle on 13 October 1813 is to be believed), Henry Bohn was travelling to Holland and to Germany to acquire comparatively cheaply many books which could be sold at a large profit in England.  He could speak French and German well and he continued to make visits for many years to the chief European cities and literary centres where he made many friends.  English books were added so that John Bohn’s stock was now comparable with that of large London booksellers.

Bohn’s first major bibliographical work was the compilation Bibliotheca Parriana.  A catalogue of the library of the late reverend and learned Samuel Parr[5] which was published by his father in 1827.   It is recorded that Bohn had to work from a poor manuscript prepared by Parr in his old age and that some of Parr’s comments which Bohn reproduced had, at the behest of Parr’s executors, to be later removed.  The catalogue provided Evans the auctioneer with material for his sale catalogue.[6]


 After working for his father for almost twenty years Henry felt that he should have a share of the business which he had helped to create, however his father was not willing to offer him a partnership so he decided to leave.  In 1831 he set up in business at 4 York Street, Covent Garden in a house previously occupied by J. H. Bohte a classical bookseller and also at one time home of Thomas de Quincey when he wrote The confessions of an English opium eater in 1821.  In 1831 also he married Elizabeth Lamb Simpkin, the only daughter of William Simpkin of Simpkin, Marshall & Co.  With personal capital of £1,000 (one source states that his father-in-law provided £1,000) supplemented by another £1,000 from his friend Buckman, he made rapid progress in collecting valuable old books and building a reputation for his bibliographical knowledge.  By 1841 he was able to publish a description of his stock in the Guinea Catalogue[7] popularly known as the Guinea Pig.  The cost of publication was said to be more than £2,000.  This was a substantial work consisting of 1,948 pages, 23,208 items with 152 pages of remainders which immediately established his world-wide reputation as a pre-eminent second hand bookseller.  The work provides material enough for an extended study of the contents and the identification of the survival of more significant items in collections.  One of his employees at the time, Charles Edwards, subsequently maintained that he had “Three-fourths (of the ‘Guinea Catalogue’)… in my handwriting” that many of the notes were his and that “he had read and corrected every line of the enormous volume while going through the press (a period of three years), Mr. Bohn confining himself to pricing the articles… to inserting such books not in stock as he thought would make the Catalogue more useful, and to a general superintendence of the whole”.  Charles Edwards also stated that he though Bohn’s transcriptions were inaccurate and that the working conditions at York Street were poor.[8]  Bohn refuted these criticisms.[9]  But he must have been a hard task master, working long 13 hour days and expecting the same of his staff.  He extended his premises by taking over 5 and 6 York Street. 

 Among his wealthy customers from the commencement of his business were Alexander Hamilton Douglas, the 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852) and William Beckford (1759-1844).  Bohn claimed that all the books added to the Hamilton Palace Library since 1831 were supplied by him, either to the then Duke of Hamilton or to William Beckford whose library was subsequently added to that of the Duke’s. William Beckford’s daughter Susan Euphemia married Alexander, the Marquis of Douglas who became the 10th Duke of Hamilton.  Alexander was Beckford’s cousin, he was 20 years older than Susan, Beckford’s younger and plainer daughter and Douglas held out for a huge marriage settlement as the price of making her the future Duchess of Hamilton.[9a]  Bohn said:

“They used at first to come together at an appointed time, and usually selected somewhat largely from the literary and artistic treasures which I had recently accumulated during a long and opportune tour on the continent.  After this early period they collected separately, and it did not then transpire that the libraries were eventually to become united, as each at times was desirous of securing the same book”.[10]

Their interests, however did conveniently for Bohn diverge, for example the Duke specialising in illuminated mss and William Beckford, who Bohn used to say was the greatest book enthusiast he ever knew, preferring Aldines and other early books and old morocco bindings.  Beckford, who used to visit Bohn’s establishment almost daily during the London season, seldom going way with an empty carriage, until 1844, the year of his death when the Duke of Hamilton came into possession of his library and the books were removed to Hamilton Palace.  Bohn had to work hard to keep Beckford’s custom and when Beckford was not in London he expected to be kept supplied with “cargoes” of books.  A letter from Bohn survives dated 13 July 1839 from 4 York Street, Covent Garden to William Beckford:


I have this day sent for your inspection a small box of books of an interesting and very uncommon kind.  Unfortunately they nearly all want binding, having no covers whatever.  If you select any, it would be better to send them to town for binding, and endeavour to forget them till they are returned to you, which may be one month or three, according to the caprice of the binder.  The books are in so much the finer state, for the want of binding, on account of their having been cut out of volumes, by the former proprietor, --the same person who collected the last lot sent for your inspection.  He has one of the best bibliographical noses in Europe, and the present is, I believe, his last gleanings.  The Pilgrims is a singularly rare and interesting article, and the only copy I ever saw:  it cost me nearly the £10 10s. at Sotheby’s, where all the books were distributed.  At the same sale I bought the Wendelin Bible, in fair state, for £10 10s. 0d., which once used to sell for 100gs. –so that it is evident tastes are changing.

The MS. Journey to Bath, unpublished, was bought at the sale of Dr. Conybeare’s books, and I should have given £5 5s. 0d. for it (altho’ charged only £3 3s. 0d.) rather than disappoint myself of the pleasure of securing it for your inspection.

The books are all so rare and curious, and withal so interesting, that I think you will find it more difficult to reject than accept.

An invoice is enclosed in the box.

I remain,

     Your most obligd

Humble Servt,

   HENRY G. BOHN.”[11]

 Beckford, however bore a great animosity towards Bohn’s father, and other dealers too, for bidding against him at sales.  In a letter to George Clarke the bookseller he wrote:

“You must set at Bohn with more virulence than ever. Let him hear the crack of your whip upon every occasion.  The droppings upon Thorpe, Cimitelle, etc. were judicious and well merited.  Pursue them all to death!  No quarter!  The bloody flag waving continually above their heads! hundred nicely executed drawings given up to Bohn for £5 10s.!  For £5 Bohn! To Bohn for £5 10s.!!!...”[12] 

 Later in October 1833[13] he wrote again to Clarke believing that Bohn’s father had died:

“…The papers tell us the immense accumulation of books of all sorts and sizes, ventiplicates and centiplicates, are amply sufficient to furnish a 365 days’ sale!  To avoid the oppressive indigestible glut I wish Parliament would decree this worthy a Roman funeral, and having commanded his well-spiced, port-soaked carcass to be placed on the top of a Martinish-looking pile composed of his entire collection, brought froth from all their filthy sinks and dirty corners, foreign and domestic, ordain the whole to be reduced to ashes.”[14]

 It was the occasion of the Strawberry Hill sale in 1842 which involved Bohn, who had replaced Clarke as his bookseller, at Beckford’s behest into bidding for items from the collections of Horace Walpole.  Horace Walpole had died in 1797 and left a life tenancy to his cousin Anne Seymour Damer (1749-1828) but she found the house too large and expensive and relinquished it to the eventual heir Lady Waldegrave, the grand daughter of Horace’s brother Edward.  Through her the house passed into the possession of the 7th Earl of Waldegrave.  The Earl and his friends had been found guilty of riotous behaviour after the Derby in 1841 and had been sent to prison for six months.  Angry with the magistrates and short of funds he decided to sell the contents of Strawberry Hill which Walpole had so painstakingly collected and had rested undisturbed since 1797.  However there had been earlier rumours of the sale which Bohn had communicated to Beckford in 1840, when Beckford wrote to Bohn on July 6th

“I am most grateful, my dear sir, for your clear, intelligent information about S[trawberry] Hill, and ardently wish a sale would give me an opportunity of profiting by it;  but alas! this marvellous sale still remains enveloped in such dense clouds, that I doubt whether the potency of Magnus Apollo, G. Robins himself, will be able to dispel them”.[15] 

An advertisement for the sale of the contents of Strawberry Hill was published on 14th March 1842.[16]  Beckford hated Walpole;  the substance of his dislike he had recounted to Cyrus Redding:[17]

“Walpole hated me”, he said.  “I began Fonthill two or three years before his death.  Mischief-making people annoyed him by saying I intended to buy up all his nic-nackery when he was dead.  Some things I might have wished to possess – a good deal I would not taken as a gift.  The place was a miserable child’s box – a species of gothic mousetrap – a reflection of Walpole’s littleness.  I happened to be adding to the Fonthill collection of pictures at the time, and was made a bugbear of.  Mr. Damer and Lord Waldegrave may thank me for their legacy.  My having his playthings he could not tolerate, even in idea, so he bequeathed them beyond my reach, as he not improbably surmised…  He built everything upon family honours and gossip – his writings are portraits of himself.  He would have abused my heraldic emblazonments at Fonthill.  He was full of spleen.  He would have written and talked me and my buildings down to the ground – yet he affected the philosopher”.


When the catalogue[18] arrived Beckford studied it intently and sent off to Bohn a whole series of instructions by letter, the chief imperative was “above all things do not relax in attention to Strawberry Hill”.  He wrote “The S[trawberry] Hill wonderment is much upon the decline, having been written down by the Times and other papers most vigorously, that I should not be surprised if good bargains were to be met with on the day of trial”.[19] 

Bohn worked hard for Beckford: 


“I was three long days at Strawberry Hill examining every book with attention, and caught such a violent cold in their unaired rooms that I could not speak, or move out of my room…  One of my young men will attend daily and have a commission from me for every lot of the least value…  I have affixed buying prices to all the lots for which you have given commission, and if they sell for more you would not I am sure regret them.  The Walpoles in the fourth day’s sale [i.e. the Strawberry Hill Press collection] will no doubt sell high, probably at more than £10 per volume.[20]

Beckford was particularly interested in books of plates in good condition.  Bohn wrote again a few days later giving the results of four days bidding in which he had purchased some thirty volumes for Beckford:

“The books have with little exception sold high, some exceedingly high and beyond any legitimate value.  I have done the best I could for you…  I lost lonely three lots and I think for good reason, but I await your judgment.”[21]

Beckford was not satisfied with Bohn’s efforts and complained to him of his inattention and carelessness.  He wrote to another bookseller, William Smith about the “semi-rubbish raked together for me by H. G. Bohn’s deputies”.  In fact the catalogue was badly compiled, and so much dissatisfaction was expressed at the intention of selling some of the collections en masse, that the contents of the seventh and eighth days’ sale, which consisted of prints, drawings and illustrated books, were withdrawn, recatalogued, and disposed of at a sale at Robins’s rooms at Covent Garden, which lasted from the 13th to the 23rd of June.  Bohn again acted for Beckford but there was strong competition from other collectors which forced up the prices.[22]  The amount realised at the sale at Strawberry Hill was £29,612 (£1¼m.), and at that in London, £3,837 (£162,000).  The library, consisting of books, manuscripts, prints, etc., sold for about £7,740 (£326,000).  The items which Bohn acquired for Beckford from the sales have been documented.[23]

 After the death of Beckford in 1844, his library passed to the Duke of Hamilton who employed Bohn at Hamilton Palace to sort and arrange them.  This work lasted several weeks “at great inconvenience”, said Bohn, “to my London requirements, but the Duke paid me so very liberally and treated me so kindly that I found it difficult to tear myself away”.  They became quite friendly and the Duke who belonged to the old aristocratic regime, was so careful in fulfilling all the functions connected with his station that once, when Bohn was about to leave the Palace in a hired carriage to visit the falls of the Clyde, the Duke cancelled the order for the carriage and insisted that Bohn used his own “and”, added Bohn “he sent me the whole way with outriders – a piece of grandeur which I found rather oppressive”.[24]


 At this time Bohn redirected his energies to the remainder trade, the inclusion of the substantial list in the Guinea Catalogue revealed that he had already bought widely.  Examples of those acquired at this time being Brockedon’s Passes of the Alps, Pugin’s books, Gilpin’s Tours, Thoresby’s Diary and Roscoe’s works.  Hither to, the remainder trade had not been systematically cultivated, although there were some booksellers in the business such as Dowding of Newgate Street and Nattali in Southampton Row, they were retail booksellers.  Thomas Tegg occasionally purchased remainders, but Bohn’s approach was to buy anything which was offered including copyrights and the plates from which the books and illustrations had been printed.  He became a wholesaler to the country’s booksellers.  Books, which had been originally published at a guinea, he would advertise at seven shillings and sell to the trade for five.  Bohn awakened interest in titles, which had been lying dormant in publishers’ warehouses.  His success encouraged competition particularly from Routledge, Ward & Lock, and Washbourne, but they did little to erode his pre-eminent position in the trade.


 Bohn’s father died in 1843, but it took some time to settle his estate.[25]  This must have caused Henry some frustration, and as the result of his actions he found himself on 30th April 1845 in court before Sir Lancelot Shadwell, the Vice-Chancellor.  A petition had been presented to compel him to restore to Henrietta Street certain portions of the stock which he had removed on 4th and 19th November the previous year for the purpose of sale by auction.

 Although Bohn took to litigation against Bogue in 1845 to protect his rights (see below), he seemed not to be above resorting to the same practices when in 1850 the publisher James Murray took action to prevent Bohn from pirating an edition of the works of Washington Irving.  However the matter of copyright for books first published abroad was not at that time clear and Bohn was able to retain the right to publish.  Murray writing to Irving stated that “He has destroyed for me all value in your works, and I make over to him the copyrights… my law expenses alone having run up to £850”. [26]

Although the British Library catalogue seems to reflect Bohn’s punctiliousness in depositing not only his first editions but also subsequent impressions which he called editions, his appearance in court on 6 November 1852 was because of his failure to deposit one of his publications at the British Museum as required by the Copyright Act, 1842.  Antonio Panizzi (1797-1879) was at the time Chief Keeper of the Printed Books.  He was a controversial figure who was to achieve much in building the strong foundations of the library.  In the 1850s he was under public criticism because of the delays in creating the catalogue and for his involvement with Guglielmo Libri (1802-69), mathematician, patriot, scholar, journalist and thief.[27]  In May 1850 he obtained power of attorney to enforce the Copyright Act:  he did this by employing an agent to purchase a copy of a book which had not been deposited, then to submit to a magistrate the evidence of non-receipt and purchase.[28]  His first prosecutions began in November 1850 after Panizzi had sent letters to thirteen London publishers and seven did not respond by depositing the missing books.  The prosecutions were successful, but were only a precursor to further action.[29]  However the press were not on the side of Panizzi: 

“The practice of reminding men of their civil duties through a police court is not a very English proceeding, and it reminds the publishers that the gentleman who pursues it with such zest is not an Englishman.  The affrighted publisher feels like the industrious ants, conscious of dreadful Formica Leo or Ant Lion, lying in ambush for him to snap him up if he stumble into the pit;  and he regards that devouring insect with the more horror since it is an outlandish species – a sort of crawling Machiavel, whose pit is the British Museum, and whose slaves are policemen.  “We should not see this morbid appetite for booksellers”, they say, “if the Librarian were not an Englishman”.[30]

On 6 November 1852 Bohn was prosecuted at Bow Street for not depositing a copy of Andrew Fuller’s works [31] Panizzi’s agent had purchased a copy from Bohn’s shop for 5s.  In court Bohn disputed this stating that the price was 3s. 6d., that he was punctual in sending books to the British Museum and that the catalogue was deficient since books he had sent six months earlier still had not been catalogued.  Panizzi in reply stated that Bohn owed “more than a dozen books”.  Subsequently the British Museum did not send Bohn a list of the undelivered books and Bohn disputed what had or had not been sent.[32]  Again on 27 January 1853 Bohn was at the Bow Street Court in response to summonses for 17 alleged undelivered books.  Bohn’s counsel, William Ballantine began by arguing that the Copyright Act was concerned with the deposit of books in certain public libraries;  the British Museum was not defined in the Act as a public library.  The Act additionally stated that books had to be delivered to the Museum between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to an approved officer who had to issue a receipt.  Non-compliance procedures could only be commenced after a demand for books had been ignored.  The Museum’s barrister William Bodkin refuted that the claim that the British Museum was not a library as it was “the largest collection of books in the world” to which the Magistrate agreed so the Act was applicable.  Bodkin told the court that further books had not been deposited and that Bohn’s porter had delivered books, but as it was closing time and receipts had not issued.  Panizzi would not accept the books since the legal action which had commenced was for the value of the books which he had purchased, not the books themselves.  The first book was Jules Michelet’s History of the French revolution, vol. 2 [33] which Bohn admitted had been overlooked.  The second was vol. 1 of Vasari’s Lives of painters [34]which was one of those Panizzi had rejected.  The third was Lanzi’s History of painting in Italy[35].  Ballantine cross-examined Panizzi as to his belief that the work was not in the British Museum, whether he had a catalogue which showed all the books and whether he knew what other editions of the work he had.  Bohn again pleaded guilty to not having deposited the work.  The next was Roscoe’s Life of Leo X[36] Ballantine’s defence was that since the work was an abridgement of one already held by the Museum it should not be regarded as a new edition under the Act since it contained less than the original.  Ballantine felt that the matter could have been settled amicably but that Panizzi was acting out of revenge.  The Magistrate said “he knew Mr. Bohn as an excellent neighbour, and every one must value his labours for the public.  He had also known Mr. Panizzi for many years, and did not believe that was anything really malignant in his heart, whatever had been inferred by Mr. Bohn from a little brusquerie of manner on the last occasion”.  Ballantine stated that Bohn admitted not depositing a further three books.  The next work was Lord Kingsborough’s Antiquities of Mexico.[37]  Bohn’s defence was that only a handful of copies had been printed over twenty years earlier “but because of a legal dispute had remained in chancery until five years previously” when Bohn had been appointed to sell them.  The Magistrate agreed that the work had not been published in the normal sense and ruled that Bohn need only pay the Museum £9, the trade price, in recompense of the 12 gns. which the Museum’s agent had paid.  Bodkin withdrew the remaining charges which related to reprints which Bohn had made from the stereotype plates of the original publishers.  Bohn was found guilty on all counts but the Magistrate only fined him 1s. for each case, in addition to the cost of the summonses and the prices of the books paid for by the British Museum, a total of £11 16s. 6d.  David Jardine refused to award the costs of the British Museum’s counsel he expressed the hope

“that both would go to work in a better spirit in future – the one determined to do what the act required of him, without causing unnecessary trouble;  the other to carry out the law, not as if it were like an ordinary penal enactment, but as one which operated rather unfairly, perhaps, upon a certain class, and should be enforced with as much anxiety as possible to make it less onerous to those whom it affected”.[38] 

Following the report of the case in The Times, Panizzi felt in necessary to defended himself in a letter to the newspaper[39] in which he said that the Act permitted him to prosecute without asking for the undeposited books otherwise no book would be delivered unless he claimed it first.  An editorial in the same issue[40] said that “It was a lamentable thing to see two such men engaged in so petty and so discreditable a warfare, the simple result of which will be to damage both combatants in the opinion of all sober and moderate men”.  Both Bohn and Panizzi replied the following day.  Bohn seems to have had the last word in a long letter declined by The Times, but appearing in the Morning Advertiser:

“Mr. Panizzi says he took the ‘lenient course’ of summoning me for only one book (published at 3s. 6d.), and that I had I applied to him in the proper manner (with my best bow, I suppose), the information would have been withdrawn.  But this never once occurred to me, and as the summons was issued I thought only of answering it.  I pleaded ‘not guilty’, because it is absurd to call the trifling oversight of a servant the guilt of a principal, and because I felt that the public ought to be made aware of the vicious and un-English operation of the Act which makes one particular class of tradesmen accountable, without the least notice, for the oversights of their servants, and even the laches of their predecessors, for all time, there being no literary statute of limitation.”[41]

 George Henry Lewes (1817-78) writer, ‘husband’ and encourager of George Eliot (1819-80) conducted all the negotiations for her writings and publications.  In May 1856 before he left London he had delivered George Eliot’s translation of Spinoza’s Ethics to Bohn’s offices.  On 3 June Bohn wrote to Lewes asking for “a copy of the agreement between us for Spinoza as I do not at present find any signed or unsigned” and stating that “it is so long ago since we entertained the subject, that I have lost sight of it”.  Lewes replied no doubt asking for £75 to which Bohn responded on 7 June:

“I think there must be some mistake in your recollection of what was intended between us…  The sum in my mind has always been fifty pounds, the same as Comte, [42] but it is so long since the subject was entertained that I had virtually given it up, and the particulars have passed out of my mind.  Indeed I had no notice from you that you meant to proceed with it till I saw the materials of the volume on my table.  What might be a reasonable speculation two or three years ago may be a very doubtful one now, but supposing the editorship not to be more than 50/-/- and the book to be what was then intended, I do not wish to waive the undertaking on account of delay.  If half the volume is to be mere reprint of the old translation, which I never contemplated, I can see no reason why the cost of editing should be more than Comte.  I am aware that no signed agreement passed between us, but I always meant there should be one, and believe you have a memorandum in my son’s [43] handwriting which I should be glad to see as soon as you can conveniently bring it here”.

Lewes replied the next day stating that he had sent Bohn “a literal copy of the memorandum” and that he had spoken frequently to Bohn’s son about the work in progress.  He asserted that the reprint of the old translation was agreed and that Bohn had given Lewes the volume for that purpose.  He said that £75 covered not only the cost of editing but also the translation of the Ethics.  Lewes also stated

“that when Spinoza was first entertained and Mr Kelly was to translate the works I asked 50£ for the editing alone; and declined to accept less.  Subsequently we talked the matter over, and arranged to get the whole of what was necessary in one volume for 75£, and this is what your son records in his memorandum”.

 Bohn replied on 13 June reiterating that “I never for a moment dreamt of your reprinting the old translation…” and that he had given the volume “to aid your labors, but not to become a substitute for them…”  He stated that the intention to have translations made by Mr Kelly of both the Ethics and the Tractatus accompanied by an introduction and notes by Lewes was for Lewes to receive £25 for editing and the remainder of £50 for translating.  Bohn stated that “My rule of paying 3/-/- or 3/3/- per sheet of 32 pages for translating and editing is so uniform that it must be something more than ordinarily inviting which would tempt me to swerve from it”.  

He said that he would abide by his son’s memorandum which Lewes had although it was unsigned.  He asked Lewes to bring the paper to him to enable a proper agreement to be completed. 

Lewes intemperately responded on 15 June:  “From the tenor of your insulting letter of 13th June I presume you are so accustomed to have your own word disbelieved that you have grown reckless in expressing your disbelief in the word of others” and asking for the ms to be returned considering “the whole business at an end between us”.  Bohn’s reply set out the reasons for wanting to seen his son’s memorandum and ended “As a literary man I should have been glad for the honor of the fraternity that your letter had been couched in more gentlemanly phrase”.  It was probably that Lewes wanted to break the arrangement with Bohn to find a more profitable one.  He offered the Ethics in 1859 to A. & C. Black who refused to pay £75 and asked Lewes to write an article on Spinoza for the Encyclopaedia Britannica which he declined.[44]    George Eliot’s translation was not published until 1981 by the University of Salzburg.[45]

Bohn had re-published Robert Seymour’s Humorous sketches[46], with a descriptive list of the plates and a biographical notice of Robert Seymour, which he had compiled, in 1866.  In March Robert Seymour’s son wrote the following letter to The Athenaeum


Having observed in your list of new works a so-called new edition of ‘Seymour’s Sketches’, to which is prefixed a memoir by Bohn, I should be extremely obliged if you would give insertion in your journal to a few remarks in reference to that work, and allow the artist’s son to explain why a memoir, which, besides giving a very imperfect and erroneous account of the artist, is enriched with statements concerning the copyright (more ingenious than true), also contains a sneer upon Mrs Seymour’s account of the Pickwick Papers.  Mr Bohn, having formerly reaped considerable profit from the sale of this imitation of my father’s original sketches was tempted to purchase the unauthorised plates about a year ago, on hearing that they were on the market.  A short time previously, however, Mr Bohn called at our house to inform us that these plates were for sale when he opened a conversation which led me to believe that he wished to see how far we should be inclined to repel any infringement of copyright, although he disclaimed, at the same time, any intention of buying the plates.  The affair was nearly forgotten when one day in December last an assistant of Mr Bohn’s called to inform us that his employer was about to publish a new edition of ‘The Lives of the Painters’ and should be glad if Mrs Seymour would supply us with some matter for a biography of Mr Seymour.  In the belief that the information desired was for a bona fide ‘Lives of the Painters’ a few leading facts were supplied which would have been more than ample, but for a lurking suspicion (after his hint of copyright of the sketches) that they were in reality intended for other purposes.  From these memoranda, Mr Bohn drew up a memoir which he read over to me; but when he came to that interesting passage 'Humorous Sketches, which are here republished from the steel plates' I of course withdrew from any further concern in the work.  Hinc illae lacrymae….”

There then follows some material relating to his father’s role in Pickwick. 

 “I reserve a fuller refutation of the inaccuracies and mis-statements in Mr Bohn’s memoir, appended to his unauthorised ninety engravings, together with an account, which, I trust will not prove entirely uninteresting, of the origin of the Pickwick Papers, for a complete edition of the one hundred and eighty sketches, which I am about to publish for my mother.

R. Seymour”.[47]

 The April 7th issue contains Bohn’s reply:

March 29th 1866

”You have admitted into your paper of the 24th of March a letter from the son of the late Mr Seymour respecting my republication of his father’s humorous sketches which, in all that regards me, is a gratuitous misrepresentation.  As it is damaging to my character, as well as to my property in the work, I have to request you will afford me the necessary space for refuting his statements.  In the first place, the copyright of the sketches in question has never belonged to any member of the Seymour family since the time of their first publication in 1834-36, the lithographic drawings having been sold without reservation, as was then the custom, to the publisher, Mr Carlile, and by him subsequently, to Mr Henry Wallis, the eminent picture-dealer, who is ready to vouch the fact.  Mr Wallis sold the stones, with the use of the drawings on them, as long as they lasted, to Mr Tregear of Cheapside, who published them for several years;  but Mr Wallis reserved for himself the copyright, for the purpose of transferring the best of the drawings to steel, which he did so rapidly as to have them ready and published within two years of Seymor’s death, adding letter-press descriptions by Crowquill.  This edition having become out of print, I, by arrangement with Mr Wallis , republished it in 1842.  Does Mr Seymour imagine that anyone would be foolhardy enough to risk more than a thousand pounds in engraving plates in which he could obtain no right, or that two large editions of the collective series, besides countless single plates could have been regularly published and sold during a number of years adversely to the legal proprietor?  Unfortunately the copyright has now expired, or I should take measures to stop the coarse and clumsy imitations which the present Mr Seymour - a teacher of music and not an artist - has been circulating, under false pretences, for several years past.  Mr Seymour misrepresents me in all other matters. I could not, as he asserts, have disclaimed my intention of buying the steel plates, having already tendered for them before I called upon Mrs Seymour to obtain some information about her husband, when I told her exactly how the case stood.  Upon her expressing a hope that I would not republish them, I told her that such a property could not be allowed to remain idle, but that I should have no objection to cede my purchase to her at the cost price if she or her friends could raise the necessary funds.  This she declined and I proceeded leisurely to prepare the book for press.  So far from there being any concealment of my intentions, or of the affair being nearly forgotten, Mr and Mrs Seymour called upon me repeatedly during the progress of it, as I can prove.  If my messenger, upon my sending him to make some inquiry, mentioned that I intended to insert a biography of Seymour in my forthcoming supplement to Bryan’s ‘Dictionary of painters’, he was right, and it will be published there in due time; but this has nothing to do with the question.  The fact is, in respect of the Memoir, I got scarcely any information whatever from the family, for it seems, “God Bless ‘em, they had none to give”.  I obtained it, with little exception, from several of Seymour’s friends, from the papers in Figaro, and from Mrs Seymour’s published ‘Account of the origin of the Pickwick Papers’ which, though a mere outpouring of spleen and vituperation, discloses something.  Mr Seymour appears to think, indeed has admitted as much to me, that all the drawings which his father ever made for publishers - including even Pickwick - are still the copyright property of the family!  Henry G. Bohn”.

The Athenaeum noted:  

“We have received from Mr Seymour another letter, repeating the former opinions with respect to his father’s share in the Pickwick Papers in answer to Mr Charles Dickens’s statement of facts.  Our readers have already heard both sides of the story and there is no need to carry the controversy further in these columns”.[48]


 In the first half of the 19th century, the publishing industry favoured small editions and high prices for copyright texts.  For example Walter Scott’s novels were issued as three-deckers at the arbitrary price of 31s. 6d., a guinea and a half being the normal price for new books published in the 1840s.  The growth in literacy and the mechanisation of papermaking and printing were influences which enabled the development of cheaper editions.  There was a gradual increase of cheaper books in 1830s to 1850s especially ‘penny dreadfuls’, melodrama, salacious fiction, gothic and crime.  The key publishers engaged in cheap reprint publishing included, Thomas Tegg, a competitor of Bohn’s in the remainder market, who made a fortune with cheap reprints and abridgements of popular works, John Cooke who issued editions of British poets in sixpenny parts, George Newnes’ Penny Library of Famous Books (average print run of nearly 100,000 copies per book) and the famous Routledge’s yellow-back Railway Novels. 

The practice of underselling, so berated by publishers and booksellers alike, did reduce the prices of books and open them up to a wider market.  Charles Tilt of Fleet Street and David Bogue his partner and successor published illustrated classics and the Miniature Library of cheap but well printed volumes.  Bogue had inaugurated a European Library series in 1845 when Bohn decided to enter this lucrative market. Unfortunately Bogue had included in his first reprint, William Roscoe’s The Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici, some material described as illustrations but not in the pictorial sense.  This material appeared in Roscoe’s Illustrations, historical and critical of the life of Lorenzo de’ Medic. [49]  Of the original copyright in 1822, a quarter had been sold to the publisher Mr T. Cadell and the remaining portion continued vested with William Roscoe until his death in 1831.  By assignments from various members of Roscoe’s family and from the executor of Mr T. Cadell, the whole copyright passed to Bohn.  Bohn had also in 1845 published an edition of The Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici.  A lawsuit followed and an injunction against Bogue resulted.  The hearing before Sir Lancelot Shadwell, the Vice-Chancellor took place on 12th and 13th February 1845.  The Vice-Chancellor stated that although Bogue had only taken a part of the work in question, it did not diminish the theft and so he granted the injunction.  He directed Bohn, however to bring an action to establish his right in a court of law.[50]  Bogue discontinued the European Library after 1847 and the few titles were purchased as remainders by Bohn and mostly incorporated in his growing Standard Library.  Although Bogue died ca. 1852,[51] his firm continued publishing until the middle 1880s, but left cheap publishing to Bohn and others in the field.  When Bohn re-published The Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici, in the Standard Library, he included in a preliminary Advertisement, the following:

The present edition of Mr. Roscoe’s “Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici”, comprises the entire work according to the latest revision, with the addition of numerous valuable illustrations, formerly published as an Appendix, and containing the Author’s further researches.  These being copyright, cannot legally be incorporated in any other edition;  and the Publisher thinks it proper, by way of caution, to observe, that he has recently succeeded in obtaining an injunction against their piratical appropriation by the Editor of a series called “The European Library”, similar in form and appearance to the present volume.

 In fact it was Bogue who inaugurated the subsequent style and appearance of Bohn’s Standard Library with the dark green cloth blind stamped bindings and gilt spine lettering, since his first title by Roscoe was issued in 1845 and Bohn did not publish his titles until 1846.  There is scope for some descriptive bibliographical research into the editions subsequently published by Bohn which were previously published by Bogue in his European Library, for example the History of the Roman republic by J. Michelet.  Translated by William Hazlitt, published by Bohn, 1847,  viii, 466p., frontis. (port.) in Bohn’s Standard Library has the same pagination as that previously published as History of the Roman republic, by J. Michelet.  Translated by William Hazlitt, London, D. Bogue, 1847 in his European Library.  A textual examination of Bohn’s editions which have the same pagination with those published by Bogue should determine whether the original stereotype plates were used, whether sheets remaining from Bogue’s editions were utilised or if the text was completely reset.  A date for the first introduction of the use of stereotype plates in the book trade could also be established.

 In the first year Bohn had published some ten titles in Bohn’s Standard Library priced at 3s. 6d. a volume.  In a roundel on the front and back covers was blind stamped HENRY BOHN’S STANDARD LIBRARY.  His first title issued on 1st February 1846 was The miscellaneous works and remains of the Rev. Robert Hall, with a memoir of his life by Olinthus Gregory and a critical estimate of his character and writings by John Foster.[52]  Robert Hall (1764-1831) was a Baptist minister, social reformer and writer.  In some ways this title reflected an emphasis in the Standard Library which included the exposure of the views of the critical non-conformists of the day.  There was coverage of history, literature and religion much of it translated from European languages.  In a prospectus of the Standard Library a “series of the best English and foreign authors…equally adapted to the Library and the Fireside” Bohn sets out his aims and objectives:

“This Series has been undertaken with the view of presenting to the educated public, works of a deservedly established character, accurately printed in an elegant form, without abridgement, and at the lowest possible price that can remunerate the Publisher.

In the present advanced stage of widely-diffused intelligence, and after the many able arguments adduced by some of the most powerful minds of the age in favour of extended literature, it would be superfluous, in a notice of this kind, to extol the advantages of circulating the higher productions of genius and learning, on terms that may render them accessible to all.

The Publisher ventures to assume that his unremitting and long-practised experience in books, his constant intercourse with the learned in all parts of the world, and his extensive literary property, will enable him to bring such resources to the formation of his “Standard Library”, as shall leave little or nothing to be desired…As holder of many valuable copyrights…which were being pirated…the Publisher considers it incumbent on him to take into his own hands the republication of them in a cheap and popular form, rather than leave them to the piecemeal appropriation of others…” 

On 1st February1848 Bohn announced that:  

“To meet the wishes of numerous Subscribers to the STANDARD LIBRARY, the Publisher deems it expedient to issue two volumes monthly, (either together or alternately, as may be convenient), until the following unfinished works are completed.  Coxe’s Memoirs of the Duke of Marlborough…Lamartine’s History of the Girondists…Ranke’s History of the popes.   Schiller’s works…  While the STANDARD LIBRARY is proceeding at this rapid rate, it is thought advisable to publish volumes of the ANTIQUARIAN, SCIENTIFIC, & CLASSICAL LIBRARIES, only on alternate months”.

 In the same year Bohn began the series called Volumes Uniform with the Standard Library, the first title was Chillingworth’s The religion of the Protestants [53] which had first been published in 1638 and previously by the University Press, Oxford in 1838.  The reason why these titles were not part of the Standard Library is not clear;  they were priced from 3s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. per volume.  1846 also saw the appearance of Bohn’s Extra Volume priced at 3s. 6d. in the same format and appearance as the Standard Library but in a brown cloth binding.  The first was Grammont’s memoirs of the court of Charles the second, [54] which first appeared in translation in 1713 and ran through many editions.  Bohn states in a foreword in this first title:

 “The publisher, doubting the propriety of including Count Grammont’s Memoirs in his “Standard Library”, thinks it expedient to print them (and at intervals perhaps other works), in a separate series…subscribers to his “Standard Library”…have a right to count upon his not altering the tone of that series by including anything which may not unhesitatingly be put into the hands of the most fastidious…”.

 In 1847 he commenced Bohn’s Antiquarian Library at 5s. each with a reprint of Bede’s Ecclesiastical history,[55] and Bohn’s Scientific Library also at 5s. but bound in red cloth with Howard Staunton’s The chess-players handbook.[56].  This was Bohn’s first departure from publishing reprints in his Libraries as this was the first time this work had appeared.  Howard Staunton (1810-74) wrote three other chess titles for Bohn as well as three editions of his first work, he was a master player, formulated the rules for the British Chess Association and was also an expert on Shakespeare’s texts.  The third title was Humboldt’s Cosmos[57]:  contemporary with Bohn’s edition, was published an edition translated by Sir Edward Sabine for London, Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1847-52, 3 vols.  This caused some dispute between the publishers.  Bohn stated that he had decided to publish a translation when he began the Libraries in 1846, but his translation was unfortunately delayed and he abstained from announcing it, “even after it was ready for publication”.  In January 1848 he said that he informed Longman that his edition was in progress and later in January 1849 that it would issued that month.  Bohn’s edition priced at 7s. for two volumes was substantially cheaper than the Longman edition at £1 4s. for two volumes, the same price as another translation published by Bailliere in 1845 which, according to Bohn, had been “annihilated” by Longman’s edition.  Bohn in a Rejoinder dated February 28 1849 and inserted in copies of his first volume, referred to “Mrs. Sabine’s translation (as edited by Col. Sabine[58])” pointing out “many minor errors”.  Bohn also detailed his inclusion of passages suppressed by Mrs. Sabine.  However in the Translator’s Preface in vol. I there is reference to “The translation, executed by Mrs. Sabine, is singularly accurate and elegant” (p. viii).

 1846 saw the commencement of Bohn’s Miniature Library.  These books were in a different format:  foolscap 12mo. “elegantly bound in morocco cloth” and priced from 2s. to 3s. 6d.  The first was The Iliad of Homer, translated by Alexander Pope.[59] Priced at 3s.  In 1846 Bohn also began Bohn’s English Gentleman’s Library.  The first title was a re-issue of William Roscoe’s Life and pontificate of Leo X,[60] with additional “portraits and numerous head and tail pieces”, not present in the edition published in Bohn’s Standard Library.

 1848 saw the establishment of what came to be known as his most famous series Bohn’s Classical Library.  In an advertisement for the new Library, Bohn wrote: 

This series…will comprise faithful English translations of the principal Greek and Latin Classics.  The versions will be strictly literal, that is, true a reflection of expression, style, and thought, as the idioms of the languages will permit.  Each work will be given without abridgment, but in the smallest practicable compass.  The volumes will not be distended by diffuse notes and illustrations, collected from the common sources of hacknied [sic i.e. hackneyed] information;  but brief suggestive notes, adapted to the real wants of the student, will be introduced wherever they are deemed essential.  Indices, copious and exact, will invariably be added, and a bust or map be prefixed.  Of existing translations, such as are satisfactory will be adopted;  but the far greater number require correction, and will be carefully and competently revised.

HEREDOTUS, [61] which forms the first volume of the series, is a fair example of the Publisher’s intentions.  It would have been much more economical to take one of the several previous translations, but for reasons stated in the Preface, they are all rejected as unsuitable.  Beloe has been the standard for more than half a century, but fine words without fidelity will scarcely satisfy the present age.  A new translation has accordingly been made, which it is believed will enable any scholar in Greek, “though sadly to seek”, to pick up his strayed learning with facility;  while the English reader may rely on having, as nearly as possible, Heredotus in his own words and not a mere paraphrase.

 Bohn at the same time asked “Any scholars, especially teachers and lecturers, competent to undertake the editing, and in a position to promote the use of books of this class, will oblige the Publisher by communicating with him on the subject”.  Bohn’s Cribs they came to be called they were literal rather than literary translations helping many pupils to pass examinations.  However they were sound and compare well with the Loeb Classics, and according to some authorities were superior to them.[62]  There is an assertion that the expressions “to bone” and “to bone up on subject” meaning to study it hard and thoroughly, especially for an examination were first used in the 1860s by collegians, and they apparently first spelled the ‘bone’ in the phrase ‘Bohn’, referring to the Bohn translations of the classics, or ‘trots’, that they used in studying.[63]  However the O. E. D. makes no such association and has a use of the phrase from 1841, preceding the Libraries.  These volumes bound as the Standard Library in a dark blue or dark green cloth, were generally priced at 5s. with a few at 3s. 6d. and some at 7s. 6d.  Among Bohn’s translators were Rev John Selby Watson (1804-84) author and murderer, Theodore William Alois Buckley (1825-56) who, according to the D. N. B., “became a literary hack” and Henry Francis Cary (1772-1844) famous for his translations of Dante and for a time “an official of the British Museum Library”.  Bohn, proficient in French, German, Latin and Greek fancied himself equal to Henry Thomas Riley (1816-78), but the translator refused to submit to his dictation and withdrew, which some of Bohn’s other editors also did.[64]  The Classical Library was popular and well-received, however one reviewer, as well as praising Bohn’s Libraries as furnishing “as instructive and varied course of reading as the most omnivorous taste could require”, felt bound to add

“…that while these libraries merit the praise we have given them, they also contain some of the filthiest and most indecent books ever printed in the language.  These of course we do not indicate by name;  but it would, certainly, be well for the American agents to exercise a more rigid censorship on their importations than they seem to have practiced hitherto.” [65] 

Today we would find little in Bohn’s editions of say the comedies of Plautus or Aristophanes to cause offence.  His edition of Petronius.[66] however is stated to leave in a “surprising amount for its time of the more racy material, but some sections are retained in what Gibbon called the decent obscurity of a learned tongue”.[67]  This stratagem of some contemporary editors to retain in the original Greek or Latin some of the translated text with which readers may have been offended, was not always adopted.   In Britain a Society for the Suppression of Vice had been set up in 1802;  Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825) had published Family Shakespeare in 1818, an expurgated edition of the text, followed by his edition of Gibbon’s History.  Control of the circulation of obscene books was in the hands of book dealers and lending libraries who would desist from stocking books questioned by clients, consequently the question of what was acceptable varied.  The Obscene Publications Act, 1857 was enacted despite protests from among others, John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer.

 Bohn’s Illustrated Library began in 1849 with Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain, etc., this work by Edmund Lodge (1756-1839), who was Clarenceux King of Arms, had first been published in 1791, and previously in 1840 by William Smith in 10 volumes.  Bohn’s edition was in eight volumes at 5s. each.   This Library was bound mostly in a green cloth in the same style as the others. 

 Bohn’s Royal Illustrated Series began in 1850 with a reprint of George P. R. James’ Book of the passions.[68]  The volumes in this series contained more illustrations and according to Bohn’s entry in Lowndes were “highly-embellished volumes, printed in crown 8vo. on fine paper, extra cloth, gilt edges” and were priced at 7s. 6d.

 In 1850 he began to issue Bohn’s Shilling Series with double volumes at 1s. 6d.  These were bound in stiff paper covers and, unlike the books in the other libraries, the pages were cut suitable for “railway reading”.  They were mainly complete stories, lectures or accounts reprinted from the other Libraries.  The first was Emerson’s Representative men [69], followed by Irving’s Life of Mahomet, [70] which had appeared the same year as volume IX in his Complete works in 10 volumes in the series called Volumes Uniform with the Standard Library.   Later Bohn called this Library Bohn’s Cheap Series which was the heading he used to list them in his revision of Lowndes, where they are priced at 1s., 1s 6d. or 2s. per volume.  Those priced over 1s. were uncut bound in blind stamped cloth, but with no Library motif.  For example, his editions of Irving were presented in pale green paper boards, printed and decorated in dark green and brick red on the spines, and upper and lower covers, with fancy end papers and uncut. 

 In 1851 Bohn’s Ecclesiastical Library was begun with the publication of Eusebuis’ Ecclesiastical history [71] and four other titles.  This series was also priced at 5s. volume.

 Bohn’s Philological and Philosophical Library commenced in 1852 with Hegel’s Lectures on the philosophy of history [72] and Tenneman’s A Manual of the History of Philosophy. [73]  At the beginning Bohn designated the series as the Philological Library, in his fly-leaves’ listings he described the series as Bohn’s Philologico-Philosophical Library, but in Lowndes he heads it Bohn’s Philological and Philosophical Library.  The books generally had the roundel HENRY BOHN’S PHILOLOGICAL LIBRARY blind stamped on the front and back covers as well as the common gilt lettering of the specific library at the bottom of the spines. This series was also priced at 5s. volume.

 In 1853 Bohn’s British Classics appeared with Gibbon’s Roman Empire [74] in 7 volumes.  It was edited by an “English Churchman” who in fact was Henry Bohn.  It has been said that occasionally Bohn “made the mistake of supposing that his scholarship was equal to those other attainments”,[75] and of not taking kindly to criticism.  The Athenæum gave it a disparaging review and an acrimonious correspondence followed.  The Library was bound in a mottled plum cloth and priced at 5s. a volume.

 Bohn’s Library of French Memoirs included only two titles, the first published in 1855 was Philippe de Comines Memoirs, [76] which had first been published in 1525 and had been reprinted numerous times in the original French and first translated into English in 1596.  The other title was the Duke of Sully’s Memoirs [77] in 4 volumes also priced at 3s. 6d.each.  The work had first been published in 1638 and Charlotte Lennox’s (afterwards Ramsay) translation appeared in 1756.  This Library was bound in a dark blue cloth.

 Bohn’s Historical Library began in 1857 with Jesse’s Memoirs of the court of England [78] in 3 volumes at 5s. a volume.  This had first been published in 1840 and previously in 1855 in the series called “Bentley’s Monthly Volume”.  The volumes in this Library were bound in a bright blue cloth.

 Bohn’s School and College Series began with an edition of The new testament in Greek in 1859[79].  It was however the only title which he issued.  It bears the series title Bohn’s Collegiate Series, although in Lowndes he used the fuller title.


 Bohn’s earliest published work traced is De litteris syllabis pedibus et metris, by Terentianus Maurus published in 1825[80].  The great majority of Bohn’s publishing was of works previously issued by other publishers.  In many cases Bohn’s editions followed the same pagination as these previous editions.  This suggests that he either acquired printed sheets, the engraved plates for the illustrations or latterly the stereo-plates.  Frequently the re-use of engravings and engraved title-pages shows that this was his practice.  There is scope for some descriptive bibliographical research into the editions subsequently issued by Bohn with those which were previously published by others.  A textual examination of Bohn’s editions which have the same pagination should determine whether the original stereotype plates were used, whether sheets remaining from the previous editions were utilised or if the text was completely reset.  We know that in a few cases he put his own labels over the names of the previous publishers on the title-pages. 

 He formed an alliance with W. H Lizars, the Edinburgh publisher with a reputation for publishing The Naturalist’s Library under the editorship of Sir William Jardine, to re-issue titles from this series.  More work needs to be done to establish the dates when Bohn re-issued individual Lizars’ publications under his imprint.  Bohn appeared to begin some series before his Libraries, although these were begun by the original publishers of the titles he re-issued, for example the British Colonial Library of which Martin’s History of Southern Africa was no. 3, was also issued by J. Mortimer and by Whittaker & Co.  The Library for the Young which included John Kitto’s Uncle Olliver’s travels in Persia,[81] does not appear to have had any other titles and seems not to have been issued previously by another publisher.  

 Whereas Bohn had not taken the original initiative to publish many of the titles he issued, it was his knowledge of the tastes of the book buying public which enabled him to see the potential for additional sales of the titles he purchased.


 Bohn on occasions took issue with the establishment on matters which stirred his concern.  One which surprised many was his opposition to the proposal to repeal the tax on paper.  As one of the pioneers of cheap literature described as “a very triton among minnows in those waters”[82] he was, contrary to this concept, in 1860 strongly opposed to the proposed repeal of the paper duty.  He had attended a meeting to promote the repeal in St. Martin’s Hall on 22nd February 1860.  At the meeting which largely consisted of supporters of the abolition of the tax, Bohn was able to propose a motion to defer repeal until there was a free trade in rags from France and Germany.  This was not however the main issue, since at that time the use of rags for paper making was largely being superseded by esparto grass. He publishing a pamphlet[83] which included his letters to the Morning Advertiser in which he asserted that the repeal would not be of any real advantage to the trade or to the public and would involve a loss to the Treasury of some £2m. p.a. in revenue.  A rejoinder was issued by G. William Petter, [84] a publisher with Cassell & Co.  The House of Commons voted for the repeal included in William Gladstone’s budget that year, but it was not carried in the Lords until 1861.[85]  Fortunately for Bohn and the public, he stood almost alone in opposition.  Later commentators have said that the public were unaware that at the time he had a large stock of paper on which he feared he would lose the drawback if the tax was repealed.[86]


 He was chairman of the committee appointed for the Printed Books Department of the 1851 Great Exhibition.  [In progress]


 Although Bohn would have liked to have founded a family publishing and bookselling house like Longmans, his eldest son William Simpkin, who for a while worked for father in translating and administrative work, left to travel abroad and sometime after when he returned home he died, George took up engineering and his other son Henry became a barrister.  Bohn decided to dispose of his businesses in 1865.  The stock, copyrights and stereotype plates of his Libraries he sold to Bell & Daldy for £35,000 (equivalent today to over £1.5m.).  His stock of second-hand books realised over £13,000 (£560,000) and then he sold his miscellaneous stock with the copper and steel plates to Chatto & Windus for another large sum.  One source has stated the combined total of his sales of books and other literary properties “realised little short of £100,000 (£4¼m.)”.  Although the business of the Libraries was disposed of quickly, with no perceptive break in publishing, the sale of the stock of general publications and second hand books took place over several years from 1868-72.[87]


 Bohn was resident at his estate at North End House, Twickenham certainly at the time of the 1861 Census and before he retired in 1865.  He is said to have acquired the house in 1850 but continued to live over the shop until he became less active in business.  The house was situated off Richmond road opposite Montpelier Row.  Bohn later purchased the neighbouring Highshot House in Crown Road.[88]  His extensive garden frequently featured in the illustrated gardening journals because of the many rare plants which he grew.  He specialised in hardy deciduous shrubs and conifers assembled through his connections with the Royal Horticultural Society and George Gordon to whose Pinetum Bohn contributed an appendix of popular names.[89]  Bohn was a fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and was a supporter of the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Institution.  There are accounts of the rose parties which he gave during the summer, attended by Dickens, Cruikshank, Rosa Bonheur and many other celebrities,[90] including one in which in his eighties he danced in a quadrille with his daughter “with much zest and sprightliness”.[91]  However he was unable altogether to let go of his book interests:  he retained a warehouse in his father’s former premises in Henrietta Street and was a regular attender at book sales.


 Although Bohn was a noted frequenter of Christie’s salerooms from the 1830s it was after his retirement that he was able to begin to add more extensively to his art collections.  Between 1875 and 1878 to make room for more miniatures and pictures he sold his china at Christie’s for £25,000 (over £1m.).  The collection was so extensive that it comprised six portions.  The catalogues of these china sales were prepared by Bohn [92]  In the preface to the first portion of the pottery collection Bohn set out what had motivated his interest and study of the arts:

“The pursuit and study of the fine arts in their various branches have been a source of constant enjoyment to me in the intervals of business, and often a great solace and relief at trying periods, and this alone would be a pleadable indemnification for my investments should they fail to be commercially reproductive.  It is said that collectors usually have long lives, and I cannot help feeling that the cheerful exercise of the mind and body which belongs to the pursuit warrant the assertion, and I hope in due time to say probatum est.  In conclusion, I venture to pride myself on having been among the first in this country to popularise and facilitate the cultivation of ceramic knowledge.  Twenty-one years ago I gave a public lecture on the subject, with illustrations from my own stores, and immediately after, when Marryat’s guinea-and-a-half volume was the only English guide, I published my five shilling ‘Handbook of Pottery and Porcelain’, which containing, as it does, an extensively illustrated and prized catalogue of the Bernal collection, has been very popular, and will always be indispensable to the collector”. 

In the preface to the catalogue of the fifth portion of his pottery sale, Bohn wrote: 

“My collection [of old Sevres porcelain] extends to nearly three hundred specimens, and is the largest in point of number which has ever, to the best of my knowledge, been collected by an English amateur, although far from the most valuable, as I have no ten thousand pound set of vases.  My object has been limited to variety and quality, and has not ex necessitate rei, extended to grandeur;  feeling, however that extreme art may well be exemplified in a small form as in a large one”.

A commentator[93] on Bohn’s art collection has said:

“Mr. Bohn’s art collection is of national celebrity;  its interests and value are almost unrivalled.  It is the most varied and extensive of any collection made by an amateur since Mr. Ralph Bernal; and it exceeds Mr. Bernal’s in number, if not in value.  To attempt to enter into details concerning it would be wholly impossible, and even if possible, inconsistent with the limits of the present work.  The pictures included specimens of the works of very many English and foreign masters of celebrity, especially those of the early German, Flemish, and Italian schools;  the collection of porcelain is unique;  besides which are innumerable articles of vertu of the rarest kind, including a quantity of ancient English and foreign plate”. 

On the morning of April 20th 1871 Bohn had a burglary which involved him in a substantial loss from his art collection.  Mainly silver plate and bijouterie valued at £1,000 (£43,000) were stolen.  Amongst the articles were a large silver box, engraved by Hogarth, surrounded with raised figures, representing the members of the Shere Lane Club, and his Modern Midnight Conversation embossed on the top dated 1735;  several large and small medieval tankards and covers;  a small medieval altar-piece with painted miniature, set with diamonds;  an ancient enamelled gold watch with mechanical works on face, and a portrait of Marie Antoinette represented spinning;  two ancient silver watches, one with the name of John Dryden; a small ivory dyptich, set with crystals, &c.  Nothing was subsequently recovered, apart from a few items which were found buried in a market garden between North End House and Twickenham railway station.

 During the last two to three years of his life Bohn had been engaged with his daughter Elizabeth, Mrs. F. K. Munton compiling a catalogue raisonné, first for private distribution[94] to his friends and ultimately for the auction room.[95]  The final proofs only went to the printers four days before his death.


 I have prepared a separate list of the books for which Bohn was the main author or editor, I have not included titles for which he was only partially responsible for translating or for which he only included a preface or foreword.  Although the main emphasis in his own works is that of bibliography:  in the early years his formidable catalogue of the stock he held and latterly his revision of Lowndes, there are examples of his poems in his A dictionary of quotations from the English poets. [96]

William Thomas Lowndes (1798-43) first published with William Pickering his The bibliographer’s manual of English literature, 1834.  It was the first systematic work of its kind in this country.  It was not a financial success, his bookselling business collapsed and he had to work for Bohn as a cataloguer.  He attempted to supplement it with The British Librarian, 1839-42 but his failing health and sight which culminated in insanity lead to his early death.  George Watson Cole has asserted that Bohn’s harshness and insensitivity lead to Lowndes’ death.[97]  Some ten years after Lowndes’ death The bibliographer’s manual was receiving some recognition, so Bohn purchased the copyright from William Pickering and issued a new edition, revised 1857-64.

At Bohn’s death there were reports[98] that he had left a very complete batch of MSS relating to the world of letters of the past half century, it was stated that it was one of his hopes that he might have been spared to have seen his notes and reminiscences in print, but that his executors will put his wishes into effect.  However no such work has appeared.


 The central source for the identification of titles in the Bohn Libraries has been based upon my own collection.  This has provided information not only on the specific volumes I hold, but also in Bohn’s approach to punctuating his title-pages.  The former British Museum cataloguing practice of omitting or providing only incomplete imprint details, and on occasions omitting the date of publication, often makes the identification of separate editions impossible.  Bohn was usually punctilious in depositing copies of his books, even of re-issues.  But frequently the absence of imprint details means that such incompletely described copies only held at the British Library cannot be identified without the lengthy process of requesting each one for checking.  For the Bohn Libraries one can be certain that a complete list can be prepared.  Many of the university libraries have sets including that held at Reading as part of the special collection on publishing.  COPAC has been invaluable in correcting errors in the BL Catalogue which assigns the commencement date of Bohn’s Libraries as the publication date for many of the works, when this has not been included in the entry.  Bohn set out the titles in his Libraries in his revision of Lowndes (which inappropriately he included with the publications of private presses and learned societies), and provided lists in his fly-leaves’ listings in the volumes of the Libraries, although both of these sources have errors and omissions.

 Bohn made a practice of inserting between the end-papers of his publications lists of books which he had for sale.  When he began the Libraries, for example at the end of the first volume of Beckmann’s A history of inventions… there is A select catalogue of new books at reduced prices published or sold by Henry G. Bohn, [1846].  This list is of 32 pages and arranged under broad subject groups.  There is reference to “His complete catalogue of new books and remainders, in 100 pages, may be had gratis”.  There is no distinction between those which are remainders and those which he had re-issued, although there is a date of publication for each.  The original published price is shown with Bohn’s lower selling price.  An example being: 


2 vols. medium 4to.  Containing 190 beautiful Engravings.  (Pub. at 10l. 10s. in boards,) half bound morocco, gilt edges, 4l. 4s.                                                                                                                    1828

Some quotations from favourable reviews are included.

 As the volumes in the Libraries increased, Bohn commenced to print on the end-papers in blue ink, lists of the volumes in the various Libraries with their prices and sizes.  Most of the Libraries had numbers assigned to each volume and the titles appeared in this numerical sequence under each Library.  Those Libraries which were not numbered were Bohn’s Uniform with the Standard Library and Bohn’s Miniature Library the contents of which were listed in alphabetical order of the heading he had chosen.  From about 1861 he dropped Bohn’s Miniature Library from his fly-leaves.  Bohn’s Royal Illustrated Series did not appear in his fly-leaves.

Although Bohn had a pre-eminent reputation as a bibliographer, producing lists of very many thousands of books, the way in which he chose to record them does not accord with present-day cataloguing and indexing practices. 

Another useful source of information has been prepared by Francesco Cordasco in his The Bohn libraries:  a history and checklist, 1951.[99]  This list, from which I have reproduced the Cordasco references in my bibliography of the Libraries, follows closely the descriptions of the works which Bohn used in Lowndes and does not reproduce the text of the title-pages.  There are errors both in descriptions and in dates of publication.  Cordasco also includes additions to the Libraries made by the subsequent owners Bell & Daldy and George Bell & Sons, whereas I have only covered the period up to Bohn’s sale of the business.


 Most of the personal information we have about Bohn is set out in the various eulogies and obituaries published on his death.  There were anecdotes relating to his alleged meanness in having the distance measured from the station to his office to check on the cab fare.  Bohn was a man of tremendous energy and capacity for work and, as Charles Edwards recorded, expected the same of his employees.  We do have an account of him from George Putnam the American publisher whose magazine found some of Bohn’s Classic Library titles rather too explicit.  George Putnam recorded that at Twickenham:

“I dined with the old gentleman in company with three or four other guests, and was interested in noting how bad the manners of an English gentleman were allowed to be if he possessed money and some social importance.  The host contradicted his guests (not, it is fair to say, his American guest, who kept quiet and observant) and one or two of them were abused so abominably as the old gentleman took his third or fourth glass of port that I was surprised that they were willing to remain at the table.  He was so full of his own opinions and brooked no contradictions or questions.  It is fair to remember in thinking of Bohn that he was hardly to be accepted as typical of an English gentleman, or even as an English commercial gentleman.  He had been born in Germany [sic], and while a well-read man, possessing some scholarly attainments, he had taken his training comparatively late in life”.[100] 

George Putnam was born in 1844 so he would have been barely 21 in 1865.  Bohn may have seemed an old gentleman to him at the time but certainly Bohn’s other guests would have been more prepared for their host’s eccentricities after a few drinks than the young newcomer.

 Bohn’s contributions to his Libraries included translations, handbooks, biographical notices and prefaces.  He also performed numerous other tasks including negotiations with authors, copyright holders, editors, translators, printers, binders and other book sellers.  Unfortunately his correspondence was not included with the Bell archives when they were deposited with the University of Reading, so we do not have the raw material to inform us of the economics of his publishing, except that many hundreds of thousand of copies of the titles in the Libraries were sold.  Bohn’s personal finances must have received a boost when his wife’s parents died leaving her a fortune.   

Gladstone, who had a high opinion of Bohn’s abilities offered him a baronetcy, but it is recorded that he declined the honour on principle.[101]  Lister asserts that the only recognition was an offer of a safe Conservative seat in the Commons which he declined. [102]

 Many newspapers and journals published memoirs and obituaries and the following appeared in Punch:

     Eh?  Dead at Eighty-nine?  A ripe old age

Dear render of many a learned page

Into the—rather dryasdust—vernacular;

True source of many an utterance oracular

From many a pseudo-pundit, who scarce owns

To wandering that valley of dry Bohns.

Thousands should thank thee who will hardly do so—

In public!  From Catullus down to Crusoe,

From Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle deep,

To Goethe, Schlegel, Schiller we drink pottle-deep

Of Learning’s fount from thy translated tap!

And what though o’er it one may nod and nap?

‘Tis wholesome, if not sparkling, with sound body,

If not the glint of true Pierian toddy.

Gone from thy roses underneath the daisies,

And say (Pundits make puns, and sometimes own ‘em),

Vale!  De mortuis nil nisi Bo(h)num.”




[1]  BOHN, James George Stuart Burges  [Catalogue of ancient and modern books in all languages on sale by James Bohn, No. 12 King William Street, Strand.]  London, Printed by C. Richards, 1840.  viii, 792p., illus.

[2]  His correspondence with Sir Scarisbrick concerning his bankruptcy 1845-51 is held in that family’s papers (Lancashire Record Office DDSC/79/1).

[3]  BOHN, James George Stuart Burges.  A catalogue of theological books in foreign languages... On sale at the prices annexed by D. Nutt. [Compiled by J. G. S. B. Bohn.]  London, 1857.  viii, 704p.

[4] The Anthenaeum Aug 30 1884

[5] PARR, Samuel.  Bibliotheca Parriana.  A catalogue of the library of the late reverend and learned Samuel Parr.  [Compiled by H. G. Bohn from a list drawn up by Dr. Parr.]  London, J. Bohn and J. Mawman, 1827. 

[6] LISTER, Anthony.  Henry George Bohn (1796-1884):  bookseller, publisher and controversialist.  Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, 1988, 15, 54.

[7]  BOHN, Henry George.  A catalogue of books.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1841.  iv, 1948p., frontis.  This was Bohn’s famous ‘Guinea Catalogue’ so called because of its price.  In some copies was appended a catalogue of “New, valuable, and most important books, of which the advertiser has purchased the entire editions or remainders”, 148, [4]p.

[8] Letter, The Bookseller, 1 October, 1872.

[9] Letter, The Bookseller, 6 November, 1872

[9a] MOWL, Timothy.  William Beckford:  composing for Mozart.  London, John Murray, 1998. p. 250-1.

[10] Richmond & Twickenham Times, August 30th 1884.

[11]  MELVILLE, Lewis.  The life and letters of William Beckford of Fonthill (author of “Vathek”).  London, William Heinemann, 1910, p. 308-9.

[12] MELVILLE, op. cit., p.297.

[13] It may well be that Melville has assigned a wrong year to Beckford’s letter.

[14] Ibid., p. 298.

[15]  Ibid., p. 300.

[16] Advertisement for the sale of the contents of Strawberry Hill.  14th March 1842.  The most Distinguished GEM that has ever adorned the Annals of Auctions.

[17] REDDING, Cyrus.  Memoirs of William Beckford of Fonthill, author of Vathek.  London, C. J. Skeet, 1859. 2 vols., p. 299.

[18] ROBINS, George Henry.  A catalogue of the classic contents of Strawberry Hill collected by Horace Walpole, 25th April 1842 and 23 days following.  London, Printed by Smith & Robins, 1842.

[19] MELVILLE, op. cit., p. 301.

[20] Lewis Walpole Collection.  Correspondence letter from Bohn 25 April 1842.

[21] Ibid., 29 April 1842.

[22] HAZEN, Allen Tracy.  A catalogue of Horace Walpole’s library;  with Horace Walpole’s library by Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis. London, Oxford University Press, 1969.3 vol. p.xxxiv.

[23] Aedes Strawberrianae:  names of purchasers and the prices to the sale catalogue of the choice collections of art and virtù, at Strawberry-Hill Villa, formed by Horace Walpole London, Printed for J. H. Burn, [?1842]

[24] Richmond & Twickenham Times, August 30th 1884.

[25] There is a record of the surrender in 1849 by Bohn, as executor of his father’s will, of the lease of numbers 17 and 18 Henrietta Street to the Duke of Bedford (London Metropolitan Archives E/BER/CG/E/01).

[26] SMILES, Samuel.  A publisher and his friends.  London, John Murray, 1891. vol. II, p.262.

[27] A Florentine count, Libri’s lasting fame is primarily based on his theft of huge quantities of books and manuscripts.  Libri was appointed Inspector of the Libraries of France in 1841.  However it was reported that books and manuscripts were going missing from libraries and these losses coincided with visits to the libraries by Libri.  This merited an investigation but nothing came of it.  After the 1848 Revolution, Libri was informed that a warrant was about to be issued for his arrest on suspicion of stealing books.  He fled to London claiming to be a political refugee.  Before leaving France he arranged for 30,000 of his books and manuscripts to be sent to him.  He was well received in London and treated as a hero.  He had a fellow Italian friend in Antonio Panizzi.  However, on 22 June 1850 he was convicted in France in his absence on the charges of stealing valuable books and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Although Libri had arrived without any money he was not poor for long.  Sales in 1859, 1861and 1864 of his books and manuscripts in England made over one million francs:  (Catalogue of the choicer portion of the magnificent library:  formed by M. Guglielmo Libri... amongst which will be found unknown block-books;  specimens of early typography & art... early productions of the English press; manuscripts & books with autograph notes... &... a collection of historical bindings... which will be sold by auction by Messrs S. Leigh Sotheby & John Wilkinson... on Monday, 1st of August, 1859, & twelve following days.  London, J. Davy, 1859;  Catalogue of the mathematical, historical, bibliographical and miscellaneous portion of the celebrated library of M. Guglielmo Libri which will be sold by auction by Messrs. S. Leigh Sotheby & John Wilkinson... on Thursday, the 25th of April, 1861, & eleven following days, at one o'clock precisely each day.  London, J. Davy, [1861] 2 pts.)  After his death, Léopold Delisle began an investigation to settle the question of whether Libri was guilty of the charges on which he was convicted in 1850.  He showed that Libri was indeed a thief on a large scale.  In 1888 the French government requested that the books and manuscripts which Libri had stolen, and then sold, be made available for them to buy back.  Indeed many of the documents were returned to France after negotiations with the British authorities. –from MACCIONI RUJU, P. Alessandra.  The life and times of Guglielmo Libri (1802-1869):  scientist, patriot, scholar, journalist and thief:  a nineteenth-century story by P. Alessandra Maccioni Ruju and Marco Mostert,  Hilversum, Verloren, 1995.  See also P. Alessandra Maccioni Guglielmo Libri and the British Museum : a case of scandal averted, British Library Journal, vol. 17, 1991 p. 36-60.

[28] MILLER, Edward.  Prince of librarians;  the life and times of Antonio Panizzi of the British Museum.  London : Andre Deutsch, 1967 (A Grafton Book). p. 205-6.

[29] Details of these and subsequent prosecutions and the view of the proceedings from the perspective of the Museum Trustees is recounted in Keith Manley’s The book wolf bites a Bohn:  Panizzi, Henry Bohn, and legal deposit, 1850-53 in HARRIS, Philip Rowland, editor.  The library of the British Museum:  retrospective essays on the Department of Printed Books.  London, The British Library, 1991, p. 145-63.  This essay gives references to specific papers in the British Library Archives.

[30] The book wolf, The Leader, 10 July, 1852, 436.

[31] FULLER, Andrew.  The principal works and remains of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, with a new memoir by his son, the Rev. A[ndrew] G[unton] Fuller. New edition.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1852.  (Bohn’s Standard Library)

[32] MANLEY, op. cit.

[33] MICHELET, Jules.  Historical view of the French Revolution:  from its earliest indications to the flight of the King in 1791, by J. Michelet.   Translated by C[harles]. Cocks.  .  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1847-8.  2 vols.  Also published in Bohn’s Standard Library in 1 vol.

[34]  VASARI, Giorgio.  Lives of seventy of the most eminent painters, sculptors and architects.  Translated from the Italian of Georgio Vasari, with notes and illustration, chiefly selected from various commentators, by Mrs. Jonathan Foster.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1850-52.  5 vols.  (Bohn’s Standard Library)

[35] LANZI, Luigi Antonio.  The history of painting in Italy, from the period of the revival of the fine arts to the end of the eighteenth century.  Translated from the Italian of the Abate Luigi Lanzi by Thomas Roscoe.  New edition revised.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1847.  3 vols. (Bohn’s Standard Library)

[36] ROSCOE, William.  The life and pontificate of Leo the tenth, by William Roscoe.  Fifth edition revised by his son, Thomas Roscoe.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1846.  2 vols. (Bohn’s Standard Library)  “The present edition has been printed from that of 1827, the last which underwent the immediate revision of the author.” – Advertisement, p. iii, vol. I.  Previously published by Bohn in 1842, pp. xxxii. 448.  This edition published as The life and pontificate of Leo the tenth.  (Dissertation on the character of Lucrezia Borgia.  F. Arsilli de Poetis Urbanis ad P. Jovium libellus.), third edition, corrected, London, 1827, 4 vols.  There is a sixth edition in 2 vols. published by Bohn, 1853 in Bohn’s Standard Library, Bohn also published this work in Bohn’s English Gentleman’s Library with “three portraits and numerous head and tail pieces” -- Lowdnes.  Accordingly it is not clear to which edition the court proceedings related since these editions to not appear to have been abridged.

[37]  Antiquities of Mexico:  comprising fac-similes of ancient Mexican paintings and hieroglyphics, preserved in the Royal Libraries of Paris, Berlin, and Dresden;  in the Imperial Library of Vienna;  in the Vatican Library;  in the Borgian Museum at Rome;  in the Library of the Institute at Bologna;  and in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.  Together with the Monuments of New Spain, by M. Dupaix:  with their respective scales of measurement and accompanying descriptions.  The whole illustrated by many valuable inedited manuscripts by Lord Kingsborough;  the drawings, on stone, by A. Aglio.  London, Printed by James Moyse...;  Published by Robert Havell [H. G. Bohn and Colnaghi, Son, and Co.], 1831-48.  9 vols.  At least three copies of this work were in Bohn’s possession:  they were included in the sale of his library by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge in 1870.  The Times, 2 June 1870, p.6.

[38] The Times, 28th January 1853, p.7.

[39] The Times, 2nd February 1853, p.5.

[40] Ibid., p.3.

[41] Morning Advertiser, 7th February 1853.

[42] LEWES, George Henry.  Comte’s philosophy of the sciences:  being an exposition of the principles of the Cours de philosophie positive of Auguste Comte, by G. H. Lewes.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1853.  (Bohn’s Scientific Library)

[43] William Simpkin Bohn (1834-68)

[44] ELIOT, George.  The George Eliot letters; edited by Gordon S. Haight.  London, OUP;  Newhaven (Conn.), Yale UP., 1952-78.  9 vols.  Vol, 8:  p. 156-60.

[45] Spinoza, Benedictus de.  Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza;  translated by George Eliot;  edited by Thomas Deegan.  Salzburg, Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Universität Salzburg, 1981 (Salzburg Studies in English Literature. Romantic Reassessment 102)

[46] SEYMOUR, Robert.  Seymour's humorous sketches, comprising eighty-six caricature etchings.  Illustrated in prose and verse, by Alfred Crowquill (Alfred Forrester).  New edition.  With a descriptive list of the plates and a biographical notice of Robert Seymour, by Henry G. Bohn.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1866.

[47] The Atheneaum 24 March 1866.

[48] Ibid., 7th April 1866.

[49]  ROSCOE, William.  Illustrations, historical and critical, of the life of Lorenzo de’ Medici, called the Magnificent : with an appendix of original and other documents.  London, Printed for T. Cadell, and W. Blackwood, Edinburgh, 1822.

[50] The Times 12th, 13th February 1845.

[51] This date appeared in Bohn’s obituary, The Bookseller Sept. 4, 1884.  A check of the G. R. O. indexes of deaths for England & Wales 1848-71 has not revealed an entry for David Bogue.  A David Bogue b. 1852 Camden Town, Middlesex, occupation publisher traced in the 1881 Census index may have been his son.

[52] This had been previously published as The works of Robert Hall, ... With a brief memoir of his life by Dr. Gregory, and observations on his character as a preacher by John Foster. Published under the superintendence of Olinthus Gregory L.L.D.  London, 1832 [1831-32.] 6 vol.  In the edition a second title page reads “The Entire Works of the Rev. Robert Hall,” etc. This was again published in London by Holdsworth: London, 1836-41, when vol. 1 was stated to be of the sixth edition, vol. 2-5 of the fifth and vol. 6 of the seventh.

[53] CHILLINGWORTH. William.  The religion of protestants a safe way to salvation. ... A new and complete edition. London, Henry G. Bohn, 1846.

[54] HAMILTON. Anthony.  Memoirs of the court of Charles the Second, by Count Grammont, [translated by A. Boyer] with numerous additions and illustrations, as edited by Sir Walter Scott.  Also, the personal history of Charles, including the King’s own account of his escape and preservation after the battle of Worcester, as dictated to Pepys, and the Boscobel tracts, or, contemporary narratives of his Majesty’s adventures, from the murder of his father to the restoration.  Carefully edited, with additional illustrations.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1846. (Bohn’s Extra Volume)

[55] BEDE, THE VENERABLE, Saint.  Ecclesiastical history of England.  Also the Anglo-Saxon chronicle. With illustrative notes, a map of Anglo-Saxon England and a general index.  Edited by J. A. Giles ...  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1847. (Bohn’s Antiquarian Library)

[56]  STAUNTON, Howard.  The chess-players handbook. a popular and scientific introduction to the game of chess, exemplified in games actually played by the greatest masters, and illustrated by numerous diagrams of original and remarkable positions.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1847. (Bohn’s Scientific Library)

[57] HUMBOLDT, Alexander von.  Cosmos:  a sketch of a physical description of the universe, by Alexander von Humboldt.  Translated from the German by E. C. Otté…. London, Henry G. Bohn, 1849-58.  5 vols. (Bohn’s Scientific Library)

[58] Elizabeth Juliana Leeves SABINE and Sir Edward SABINE

[59] HOMER.  The Iliad of Homer, translated by Alexander Pope.  With explanatory notes and index.  To which is prefixed, an essay on the life writings, and genius of Homer.  London, H. G. Bohn, 1846. (Bohn’s Miniature Library)

[60] ROSCOE, William.  The life and pontificate of Leo the tenth, by William Roscoe.  Fifth edition revised by his son, Thomas Roscoe.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1846.  2 vols. (Bohn’s English Gentleman’s Library)

[61] HERODOTUS.  Herodotus : a new and literal version from the text of Baehr : with a geographical and general index by Henry Cary.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1848. (Bohn’s Classical Library)

[62] CURRIE, H. MacL. English translations of the classics in the 19th century in Aspects of nineteenth-century British classical scholarship:  eleven essays collected and edited by H.D. Jocelyn.  Liverpool, Liverpool Classical Monthly, 1996. (Liverpool Classical Papers – no. 5) p.52.

[63] HENDRICKSON, Robert.  Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins.  New York, Facts on File, 1997.

[64] The Bookseller, Sept. 4 1884.

[65] Editorial notes – Literature.  Putnam’s Monthly Magazine of American Literature, Science and Art, vol. 6, issue 32, August, 1855, 214-5.

[66] PETRONIUS ARBITER, Titus.  The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter...literally translated.  Edited by W. K. Kelly. London, Henry G. Bohn, 1854. (Bohn’s Classical Library). 

Erotica.  The Elegies of Propertius, the Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter, and the Kisses of Johannes Secundus. Literally translated [the Elegies by P. J. F. Gantillon], and accompanied by poetical versions [by G. F. Nott and C. A. Elton] ... To which are added The Love Epistles of Aristænetus, translated by R. B. Sheridan and Mr. Halhed. Edited by W. K. Kelly. London, Henry G. Bohn, 1854. (Bohn’s Classical Library)

[67]  op. cit., p. 15.

[68] JAMES, George Payne Raynsford.  Book of the passions.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1850. (Bohn’s Royal Illustrated Series)

[69] EMERSON. Ralph Waldo.  Representative men. [Lectures.]  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1850. (Bohn’s Shilling Series)

[70] IRVING, Washington.  Life of Mahomet.  London, Henry G. Bohn. 1850. (Bohn’s Shilling Series).

[71] EUSEBIUS, Pamphili, Bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine.  An ecclesiastical history to the year 324 of the Christian era.  Translated by C. F. Cruse.  London, Henry G. Bohn. 1851. (Bohn's Ecclesiastical Library)

[72] HEGEL, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich.  [Vorlesungen uber die Philosophie der Geschichte.] Lectures on the philosophy of history... J. Sibree.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1852. (Bohn’s Philological Library)

[73] TENNEMANN. Wilhelm Gottlieb.  A manual of the history of philosophy.  Translated from the German ... by the Rev. Arthur Johnson.  Revised, enlarged, and continued by J. R. Morell. : London, Henry G. Bohn, 1852. (Bohn’s Philological Library)

[74] GIBBON. Edward.  The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire...New edition.  With variorum notes, including those of Guizot, Wenck, Schreiter, and Hugo;  edited, with further illustrations from the most recent sources by an English Churchman [i.e. H. G. Bohn]. London, Henry G. Bohn, 1853.  (Bohn’s British Classics)

[75] The Bookseller, Sept. 4th 1884.

[76] COMINES. Philippe de. Seigneur d’Argenton.  The memoirs of Philip de Comines ... New edition.  Edited with life and notes, by Andrew R. Scoble.. London, Henry G. Bohn, 1855.  2 vols.  (Bohn’s French Memoirs)

[77] BÉTHUNE, Maximilien de. Duke de Sully.  Memoirs of the Duke of Sully, prime minister to Henry the Great.  Translated from the French [by Charlotte Lennox]  A new edition.  Revised and corrected;  with additional notes, and an historical introduction, attributed to Sir Walter Scott.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1856.  4 vols. (Bohn’s French Memoirs)

[78] JESSE. John Heneage.  Memoirs of the court of England during the reign of the Stuarts, including the Protectorate. London, Henry G. Bohn, 1857. 3 vols.  (Bohn’s Historical Library)

[79] HE KAINE DIATHEKE:  Griesbach’s text, with the various readings of Mill and Scholz, marginal references to parallels, and a critical introduction.  Third edition, revised and corrected.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1859. (Bohn’s Collegiate Series)

[80] TERENTIANUS MAURUS.  De litteris syllabis pedibus et metris.  Terentianus Maurus;  e recensione et cum notis Laurentii Santenii;  opus Santenii morte interruptum absolvit David Iacobus van Lennep.  Traiecti ad rhenum.  E typographia I. Altheer;  Prostat Londini, Apud H. Bohn, MDCCCXXV.

[81] KITTO, John.  Uncle Olliver’s travels in Persia.  Adapted to the capacity of youth, in the manner of Peter Parley.  Illustrated, etc.  London, H. G. Bohn, [1838].

[82] Richmond & Twickenham Times, August 30th 1884.

[83] BOHN, Henry George, editor.  The paper duty considered in reference to its action on the literature and trade of Great Britain;  showing that its abolition on the terms now proposed in Parliament would be prejudicial to both.  In two letters to a public journal.  London, Henry G. Bohn, 1860.  11p.  Reprinted from the Morning Advertiser of Feb. 27 and 28, 1860.  A second edition containing three additional letters was published in 1861, 24p.  A third edition, containing four additional letters also published in 1861, 30p. 

[84] PETTER, G. William.  Some objections to the repeal of the paper duty considered, in reply to Mr. H. G. Bohn’s pamphlet upon the above question, etc.  London, [1860.]

[85] LISTER, op. cit., 58.

[86] Richmond & Twickenham Times, August 30th 1884.

[87]  Catalogue of the first portion of the very extensive and valuable stock of Mr. Henry George Bohn... which will be sold by auction by Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge on 10th of February, 1868 and twenty-three following days.  London, 1868.  The second and third concluding portions of stock were listed in a second part of the catalogue issued 1872.  Catalogue of the third and concluding portion of the... retail stock of Mr. H. G. Bohn...:  which will be sold by auction... by... Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge... on Monday, the 1st day of July, 1872, etc.  London, 1872.  160p.

[88] CASHMORE, T. H. R.  The Borough of Twickenham History Society Papers:  32, 1975, p.4;  47, 1981, p. 15, 17;  1984, p. 24.

[89] GORDON, George.  The pinetum;  being a synopsis of all the coniferous plants at present known, with descriptions, history, and synonymes... By George Gordon... assisted by R. Glendinning.  Second edition, considerably enlarged and including the former supplement.  To which is added an index of popular names English and foreign, compiled by H. G. Bohn, etc.  London, [Bell & Daldy?,] 1875.

[90] [History of publishing, p.225 – to be identified]

[91] Richmond & Twickenham Times, August 30th 1884.

[92] BOHN, Henry George.  Catalogue of the first portion of the celebrated collection of old English pottery, porcelain, and Battersea enamels, formed by Henry G. Bohn... which will be sold by auction, by Messrs. Christie, Manson & Woods... March 15, 1875, and three following days, etc.  London, William Clowes & Sons, [1875.]  Copies of subsequent catalogues for the remaining portions have not yet been traced.

[93] Richmond and Twickenham Times, August 30th 1884.

[94] BOHN, Henry George.  Catalogue of the pictures, miniatures, and art books, collected during the last fifty years by Henry George Bohn.  London, Privately Printed, 1884. 

[95] BOHN, Henry George.  The Bohn Collection.  Catalogue of the... collection of pictures, miniatures, enamels, and other objects of art, formed during the last fifty years by... H. G. Bohn... which... will be sold by auction... on Thursday March 19, 1885, etc.  London, Christie, Manson & Woods, [1885.] 

[96] BOHN, Henry George.  A dictionary of quotations from the English poets. London, Printed for private distribution, 1867.  This was originally contributed by Bohn to the Philobiblon Society.  It was reprinted by Bell in 1881.  In the Preliminary Notice, Bohn wrote:  “It seems, perhaps, necessary that I should say more something about the verses marked MS., as they have all excited occasional enquiry:  they are all, as far as my memory serves, my own compositions, being portions of longer poems written in my sentimental days, between fifty and sixty years ago, chiefly for ladies’ albums, of which I occasionally had several at a time on my table.  Unfortunately I have no longer any complete record of these poems, for the volumes containing them, as well as my wife’s album, in which there were many, have both been stolen, the attractiveness of the volumes to thieves having no doubt been the morocco bindings and gold fittings”.

[97] Do you know your Lowndes?  A bibliographical essay on William Thomas Lowndes and incidentally on Robert Watt and Henry G. Bohn, Publications of the Bibliographical Society of America, 36 (1939), 1-23.

[98] Pall Mall Gazette, August 1881.

[99] CORDASCO, Francesco G. Madorma.  The Bohn libraries:  a history and checklist.  New York, Bert Franklin, 1951. (Burt Franklin Bibliographical Series. no. 5)  Francesco Cordasco (1921-2001) was a sociologist who wrote more than one hundred books.  Born in New York he lived all his life there.  Graduating from Columbia University and receiving his master’s and doctoral degrees from New York University.  He taught at Montclair State College for 26 years and also at New York University, Long Island University, the City University of New York and the University of Puerto Rico.  One of his lifelong interests was the identity of Junius and proving that it was likely to have been Laughton Macleane, private secretary to Lord Shelburne who was Junius.  He wrote in a very disciplined manner for three or four hours each day and earned more than $20,000 from his Dictionary of American immigration history, 1990.

[100] PUTNAM, George Haven.  Memories of a publisher, 1865-1915.  New York, G.P. Putnam & Sons,

1915, p.52-3.

[101]  The Bookseller, Sept. 4 1884

[102] LISTER, op cit., 60.


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