Edward Chapman and William Hall began their business in 1830, with an office at 186 Strand in London.  Although Chapman & Hall enjoyed their reputation as Charles Dickens’s publisher by issuing his works in illustrated monthly parts, they began producing yellowbacks in November 1849, making them among the earliest of true yellowback publishers.  Anthony Trollope and Mrs. Oliphant can be found among their stable of authors.  Chapman & Hall limped to their finish after 1881, still issuing some chap boards issues of Dickens and some paperbacks until 1902.



Most of the titles found in the Athenæum’s Yellowbacks collection were published by Chatto & Windus, a company with an office in the Piccadilly section of London.  The business had originated with John Camden Hotten (1832-1870), whose small bookshop began in Piccadilly in the 1850s.  After Hotten’s death Andrew Chatto, a junior partner, purchased the business and added W. E. Windus, a poet, as a partners.  Chatto & Windus was formally launched around November 1, 1873 and began yellowback publishing in 1877; among their first titles were books by Wilkie Collins, who remained a popular yellowback author.  Although Chatto & Windus had mostly finished with publishing new yellowback titles by 1899, the publisher continued to re-issue old titles.  Like other Yellowback publishers Chatto & Windus advertised on both the back cover and the flyleaves, often including lists of their own book titles.



London publishers John and Robert Maxwell operated from an office in Fleet Street, publishing such tomes as Mrs. Braddon’s Cloven Foot and “cheap, new editions” of W. S. Hayward’s many novels, including Perils of a Pretty Girl.  Their books were advertised at 2 shillings, as were many  yellowbacks of the time.  The example of J. & R. Maxwell’s publications that is included in this exhibition is Twice round the Clock, by George Augustus Sala, donated to the Athenæum by Peter and Caroline Koblenzer.



Successor to W. Swan Sonnenschein & Allen, which dissolved in 1882, this publishing company was headed by William Swan Sonnenschein (1855-1934).  The firm first published general literature, periodicals, sociology and politics, but by 1889 it was also issuing a few yellowbacks.  In 1902 W. Swan Sonnenschein went to work for George Routledge & Sons and then at Kegan Paul.  By 1911 the Swan Sonnenschein company had been swallowed by George Allen & Co.  Of the 15 titles in the Athenæum’s collection from Swan Sonnenschein only a few are yellowbacks.