Friday, January 10, 2014

Dracula: The lost Canadian edition from 1900

First Constable edition, 1897
Bram Stoker's Dracula was first published in England by Archibald Constable and Company, in 1897. Extensive research by Robert Eighteen-Bisang and J. Gordon Melton has uncovered all the significant editions that have been printed over the years, and the results were compiled in their definitive bibliography Dracula: A Century of Editions, Adaptations and Translations (1998). In 2011, the two included a list of critical updates as part of Dracula in Visual Media, by John Edgar Browning and Caroline Joan Picart.

Thanks to newly-available resources from the University of Toronto Library, which were digitized by the Internet Archive in 2012, I believe I've unearthed a forgotten Canadian edition of Dracula, which was published in Toronto by The William Briggs Publishing Co., in July 1900.
Hutchinson's Colonial Edition of Dracula
(courtesy of Robert Eighteen-Bisang)
But first, a bit of background to set the scene for this tale of intrigue. Stoker's publishing contract included a provision that allowed Constable to distribute Dracula as a "colonial" edition, which was the term used for cost-effective versions that were exported to Australia, Canada, and other British colonies. These were cheaper reproductions, usually printed and bound at the same time as the domestic edition--but using lesser-quality paper and binding. Yet it was believed that Stoker's publisher had never exercised this option, because no proof of the existence of a colonial edition of Dracula had ever surfaced--until a copy was uncovered in Australia in 2002. The book has a simple design, with a blood-red binding that features "Hutchinson's Colonial Library" emblazoned in gold on the cover--and nothing else. A different colonial edition of Dracula, also printed by Hutchinson but bound by The Copp Clark Company of Toronto, was later discovered in Canada.

I found additional proof of this Canadian colonial edition in the October, 1897 issue of Bookseller and Stationer, a trade journal from McLean Publishing. A listing of new books from Copp Clark included Dracula--selling for the low, low price of $1.25 for the cloth cover, and 75¢ for paper!

Bookseller and Stationer 13.10 (Oct. 1897): 7. Internet Archive.
What's surprising here is that there are two versions listed. The one bound in cloth is likely the Hutchinson's Colonial Library edition, but what of the paper? Did Copp Clark also offer this edition as a paperback? If so, this predates the first known paperback version of Dracula, which was an abridged edition printed by Constable in 1901. On the other hand, this could simply be an error in the advertisement; perhaps we'll never know. (An interesting side note: Copp Clark struck a deal in 1892 with the International Novelty Company of Baltimore, Maryland, to manufacture the first Ouija boards in Canada!)

Now, onto the heart of the matter, which took place three years later. Another prolific Toronto publisher from that era, The William Briggs Publishing Co., released a significant number of Canadian books, and often reprinted British and American works. It seems they also printed a Canadian edition of Dracula!

Bookseller and Stationer 16.5 (May 1900). Internet Archive.
In the May, 1900 issue of Bookseller and Stationer, William Briggs announced that "a Canadian edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula will appear this month." He added that Stoker "has produced a strong and dramatic story of a human vampire, which has attracted wide attention in England and America. Many competent critics have pronounced it the most daringly successful work of imagination that has seen the light for some time. It is not a story for people with weak nerves, who are afraid of the gruesome."

As it turned out, this edition wasn't officially available until July, which was announced in that month's issue of Bookseller and Stationer. In a survey of William Briggs' new books, there's a mention of Dracula, which was available "in a Canadian edition in very pretty covers." The writer added, "It is a story of dramatic power that will at times make the reader's flesh creep. The scene for the most part is laid among the Carpathian Mountains." (The exact date of publication is up for debate, but it must have been sometime between May and July.)

Bookseller and Stationer 16.7 (Jul. 1900): 2. Internet Archive.
Why emphasize the "pretty cover"? Because, it seems, this was very important at the time. The top story in this issue of Bookseller and Stationer concerned the declining sales of colonial editions, which "used to sell so largely here." This prompted one (unnamed) book dealer to declare that colonial editions were, in fact, "dead." One factor was the sticker price; these imports were now essentially on par with the Canadian copyright editions in paper (which averaged about 75¢). But the real reason, according to another dealer, was that readers had simply become tired of the bland look of the colonial editions, because they were "usually of a single design on the cover which never changes."

The writer then pointed out that "Canadian editions, on the contrary, are turned out with bright covers, usually in colors, which look well on the counter and attract the eye." This is a very important piece of the puzzle, because the writer also noted that this year's Canadian book covers were "decidedly the prettiest we have seen," adding that the covers of Dracula, and a handful of other new stories, "are all exceedingly tasteful and pretty."

I've not yet been able to uncover any other information about the William Briggs edition of Dracula, and it goes without saying that no physical copy has ever been noted previously--but I believe there's enough information provided in these issues of Bookseller and Stationer to prove that such an edition did exist. As such, there are many questions that need answering--the most important being what plates were used. Since William Briggs Publishing was involved in reprinting books from both the United States and Britain, their version of Dracula could have been based on the first American edition (Doubleday & McClure, 1899), or one of the later versions from Constable & Co.--which by this point had already printed several editions in England. This may even have been another version of the Hutchinson colonial edition. One question that has been answered, I believe, is that this was likely bound in a paper cover. (Which also precedes the 1901 Constable paperback!)

A "tasteful and pretty" Canadian edition of Dracula? From 1900? Could this possibly still exist somewhere, perhaps tucked away on a dusty bookshelf in Cabbagetown, or at the bottom of an old trunk in Roncesvalles? The forgotten Briggs Dracula edition could be anywhere, so check the attic! Talk to your grandparents! Hit the Goodwill store! There's got to be a surviving copy out there, somewhere.

And don't forget to keep an eye out for those two versions from Copp Clark, as well.

Works Cited

"New Books." Bookseller and Stationer 13.10 (1897): 7. Stationery & Office Products 1896-1897. Internet Archive. Web. 9 Jan. 2014. <>.

"Books and Periodicals." Bookseller and Stationer 16.5 (1900): 7. Stationery & Office Products 1900. Internet Archive. Web. 9 Jan. 2014. <>.

"Colonial Editions Decline." Bookseller and Stationer 16.7 (1900): 1. Stationery & Office Products 1900. Internet Archive. Web. 9 Jan. 2014. <>.

"Wm. Briggs' New Books." Bookseller and Stationer 16.7 (1900): 2. Stationery & Office Products 1900. Internet Archive. Web. 9 Jan. 2014. <>.

Eighteen-Bisang, Robert. "Hutchinson’s Colonial Edition of Dracula." All Things Dracula. Ed. J. Gordon Melton. Transylvanian Society of Dracula, 2003. Web. 9 Jan. 2014. <>.

Eighteen-Bisang, Robert, and J. Gordon Melton. "Dracula in Print: A Checklist." Dracula in Visual Media: Film, Television, Comic Book and Electronic Game Appearances, 1921-2010. By John Edgar Browning and Caroline Joan Picart. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011. 267-68. Print.

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