Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 14. Establishment of Great Publishing Houses

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXIX. Book Publishers and Publishing

§ 14. Establishment of Great Publishing Houses

During the prolific period between the establishment of the house of Harper in 1817 and that of Scribner in 1846, New York saw the birth of many houses that were and are destined to loom large in the history of American publishing. In 1825 the house of Appleton was founded; in 1832 appeared John Wiley & Sons; John F. Trow, and Wiley, Long & Putnam were established in 1836, to be followed three years later by Dodd, Mead & Company. Of a much later period are the firms of McClure and Company, Doubleday, Page and Co., The Century Co., and Henry Holt and Company. The successful booksellers and publishers of the first quarter or the century, Small, Carey, Thomas, and Warner of Philadelphia; Duyckinck, Reed, Campbell, Kirk & Mercein, Whiting & Watson, of New York; West & Richardson, Cummings & Hilliard, R. P. & C. Williams, Wells & Lilly, and S. T. Armstrong, of Boston; Beers & Howe, of New Haven; and P. D. Cooke, of Hartford, who had, in almost every case, won success as mere reproducers of British works or of purely utilitarian American ones, were being replaced, in all these cities save the last two, by firms whose names are now familiar wherever the English language is read. Almost inevitably the average reader will underestimate the profound influence of our old publishers in bringing sweetness and light into the sombre, narrow lives of our forefathers, in spreading education, and, above all, in helping to inculcate the national consciousness without which a literature cannot exist; though of course the two wars with Great Britain were the all-enveloping factors which make a history of purely American publication possible.