Welcome to The Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP), a critical digital archive of early twentieth-century publishers, beginning with Leonard and Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press (est. 1917). We currently have over 2000 artifacts on the site, including one-of-a-kind dust jackets, author and publisher correspondences, readers’ reports, printing and production papers, illustrations, and born digital biographies of people and presses. We are actively adding more content, and soliciting new materials, as MAPP grows. For a detailed description of our team origins, intellectual history and critical methodology, digital infrastructure, and aspirations for the site, please check out our collaborative book, Scholarly Adventures in Digital Humanities: The Making of the Modernist Archives Publishing Project (Palgrave 2017).
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As we look to expand the transatlantic dimensions of the MAPP database over the next three years with new materials from American publishing archives, I’ve been assessing the evidence we have currently in the database regarding the Woolfs’ correspondence with American publishing houses.
The Hogarth Press worked with various publishers to produce American editions of Hogarth Press texts. The American book-market (then as now) was an important source of income to British authors and publishers, and the potential sale of English-language book and magazine rights to the States is a significant part of author/publisher correspondence. Early C20 American readers were generally more likely to buy rather than borrow new books (unlike British audiences), and British publishers were keen to tap into the sales potential of the much larger American reading public.
Upon opening the new folder of images to which I am adding metadata for MAPP, I am greeted by the first image, a profit and loss statement typical of the Hogarth Press. It looks similar to the other profit and loss statements I’ve encountered from the publishing house, comparing the projected printing, distribution, and advertising costs to estimated book sales, an indication of Leonard Woolf’s reputed business mind. The numbers look innocent, routine, safely unremarkable. But upon encountering the second letter written by Leonard, I am struck by how the tone of those initial calculations transforms: “I have just the courage to suggest that we might use Christian names,” Leonard proposes in brackets at the end of the letter’s greeting line. The author to whom he writes is Mrs.
As an archivist working behind the scenes on the MAPP project, I am fortunate to be able to catalogue to item level - this means instead of generally describing a batch, or series of correspondence, I have the opportunity to read and describe every letter within a folder. Often, I have the chance to discover interesting aspects about certain folders. It is a privilege to catalogue the chosen MAPP folders to this kind of specific detail. Until we upload folders on to the site, only readers visiting the reading room, or those granted access to digital copies, will view certain Hogarth Press files and have therefore been able to read individual records within the correspondence folders.