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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

XIV. Book Production and Distribution, 1625–1800

§ 12. Patrons and Dedications

The patron of literature still existed, and rendered good service in its cause—of such was the earl of Oxford’s generosity towards Prior, and the duke of Queensbury’s care of the “inoffensive” Gay—and the dedication of a book might, occasionally, still be a substantial aid, though the pursuit of patrons and rewards-in-advance was not often carried to such a fine art as that to which the unscrupulous Payne Fisher had previously succeeded in bringing it. But the author whose living depended upon his pen no longer looked mainly to a patron or to a wealthy dedicatee for the concrete reward of his labours. The publisher had become the real patron. A book that was at all likely to find favour with the reading public possessed a distinct commercial value; and this pecuniary potentiality was in process of being realised by the author as well as by the publisher. The author naturally endeavoured to secure his fair share of profits, and we find that not a few writers were fully capable of looking after their own interests.