Troy J. Bassett. The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Three-Volume Novel.

From its obscure beginnings as “one publisher’s calculated gamble” in 1821 to its becoming the format most favored by women authors (96), the Victorian three-volume novel was central to how books were written, marketed, and consumed from the 1840s until the end of the century. The first study to provide a comprehensive examination of the form “as a literary and economic product” (12), Bassett’s rich history takes us from its inception to demise through scrutiny of the organizations that published, circulated, and, ultimately, rejected it. Beyond giving a general economic and cultural history of the format, the book addresses gaps in previous scholarship relating to the form’s financial viability, its longevity, and the complex reasons behind its decline in the 1890s. 

Gavin Edwards. The Case of the Initial Letter: Charles Dickens and the Politics of the Dual Alphabet.

a christmas carol? How does the change in capitalization impact our reading of the text? Gavin Edwards’s The Case of the Initial Letter: Charles Dickens and the Politics of the Dual Alphabet is a thorough consideration of the use and abuse of the initial letter. The initial letter is the first letter of a word. It is not necessarily a drop cap or an ornamental letter that starts a chapter with embellishment. The upper-case initial letter is most often quieter than that – a C instead of a c – but, as we learn, it conveys dignity and carries political weight. 

Harrington-Lueker, Donna. Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading.

While we may sometimes remember particular “beach reads” and other vacation reading we bring with us, most of the light reading that dominates the myriad summer reading lists isn’t meant to last. Donna Harrington-Lueker has traced the origins of the phenomenon of summer reading in the late-nineteenth-century United States, highlighting the role of ephemerality and entertainment as publishers and reviewers developed the concept of “summer reading,” as well as how tenacious many of the practices of summer reading are, from reading in public spaces to stockpiling books in convenient corners of a hotel room or guest house.

Heather G. Cole and R.W.G. Vail. Theodore Roosevelt: A Descriptive Bibliography .

Heather G. Cole is the Head of Special Collections Instruction and Curator of Literary and Popular Culture Collections at Brown University’s John Hay Library; from 2012 to 2017 she was the Curator of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection at Harvard University. She has continued the work done by R.W.G. (Robert William Glenroie) Vail. He was the Librarian at the museum created by the Roosevelt Memorial Association, after Roosevelt’s death, on the site of his childhood home on 20th Street Manhattan (today the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site). Vail had first started putting together as many documents on Roosevelt as possible. Later, he decided to begin writing a bibliography of all of Roosevelt’s works. During the 1920s, he wrote to publishers, collaborators and booksellers to find out as much as he could on these works. He could not complete and publish the bibliography, he started working for the New York Public Library in 1937. His work was “recovered” by Heather Cole and brought back to life; what she managed to do was to make all the work previously done, plus new information and research, available to readers and researchers.

Soledad Acosta de Samper Digital Library. University of Los Andes: 2019.

Coordinated by Dr. Carolina Alzate, in association with the University of Los Andes and the National Library of Colombia, the Soledad Acosta de Samper Digital Library (Biblioteca Digital Soledad Acosta de Samper, in Spanish) is a Spanish-language project that seeks to provide open access to the complete works of Colombian author Soledad Acosta de Samper (1833-1913). Now recognized as one of that nation’s most important authors, Acosta de Samper was all but forgotten until Hispanic female scholars such as Monserrat Ordóñez awakened a renewed interest in her writings during the 1980s. Thanks to these efforts, Acosta de Samper is now appreciated for her remarkable literary prolificacy and ardent advocacy of women’s education and equal rights during a time when women were typically relegated to a supporting role in Colombian society. The author’s works were digitized in 2013 as part of the Colombian Ministry of Culture’s “Year of Soledad Acosta de Samper” celebrations, and the Soledad Acosta de Samper Digital Library organizes those products of her rich intellectual life into an easy-to-navigate website.