Professor Alexis Weedon and Professor Bob Owens (University of Bedfordshire), ‘Researching the Publishing History of The Pilgrim’s Progress’, Monday 27th January, 5pm

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John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the best-selling books of all time. First published in 1678, with a Second Part in 1684, it has appeared in over 1,500 editions. It has been adapted into many other media forms, and it has been translated into over 200 languages. This remarkable publishing and cultural phenomenon has never been adequately studied. This paper discusses our plan for a research project to record, analyse and make available bibliographical details of all known editions, translations and adaptations of this work, together with its reception history. The paper will outline some of the methodological issues we face in such a large-scale project in Publishing History.

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Refreshments provided. All welcome!

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‘Editorial craft and francophone African literature’, by Dr Ruth Bush (University of Westminster), Monday 10th March (week 9)

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This paper will explore the intertwining literary and material contexts that shaped African literary production in the years surrounding the independences of 1960. Drawing on findings from research in French publishers’ archives, I will focus on a novel by Senegalese writer, Malick Fall, entitled La Plaie (1967 – The Wound). By considering this ground-breaking text in relation to debates concerning literary technique and political engagement, such as the emergence of the nouveau roman, I will ask to what extent and with what effect the archival traces of editorial mediation can be written into postcolonial literary history.

Dr Ruth Bush joined the University of Westminster as Research Fellow in French and Francophone Studies in March 2013 after completing her DPhil in Modern Languages at Wolfson College, Oxford (“Publishing Africa in France 1947-1968”). She has published in the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, the Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies, and has an article forthcoming in the Journal of Commonwealth Literature. She has recently completed a Heritage Lottery Funded web history of the UK’s first radical black bookshop and publishing house, New Beacon Books.

‘We met at a party’: Professional children’s publishing and the ‘lady editor’, by Dr Lucy Pearson (University of Newcastle), Monday 24th February (week 7)

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Accounts of children’s publishing imprints in the twentieth century often characterise their predominately female editors as enthusiastic amateurs. But how far is this true, and how did female editors really fit into the publishing culture of their parenting houses? This paper will consider two children’s editors: Mabel Carey, who began editing J.M. Dent’s children’s list in the 1930s, and Kaye Webb, who joined Puffin thirty years later. How had children’s publishing changed over those thirty years, and how far can Carey and Webb be seen as ‘lady editors’?