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British Fiction, 1800–1829: A Database of Production, Circulation & Reception

Reading the Main Records

The British Fiction 1820–1829 database includes in all 2,272 main bibliographical records, each describing a work of fiction as first published in Britain and Ireland during the years 1800 to 1829 inclusive. Of these the vast majority reflect the entries in volume 2 of The English Novel 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles, general editors Peter Garside, James Raven, and Rainer Schöwerling, 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), all 2,256 novels included in the main annual listings of that second volume being incorporated into the present database. A further sixteen works of fiction, the result of research conducted while preparing the database and not recorded in The English Novel, are also incorporated: full entries for these, matching the procedure of The English Novel, can be found in Updates 1–3, originally published in Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text between 2000 and 2003 (for access click on Updates button on the navigation bar). All but a small fraction (36 titles) of the records are based on copies of first editions examined at first hand. A large number of these are held in the Corvey Library, near Höxter, Germany, while leading research libraries in Britain, Ireland, and North America have provided copies of other titles.

The principles for including and excluding works match those employed in preparing volume 2 of The English Novel (for a fuller account, see pp. 4–5 and 32–36 of the Introductions there). In broad terms, the database aims to include what contemporaries thought of as ‘novels’, works that were reviewed as such and were included in the ‘Novels and Romances’ sections of circulating libraries. It normally excludes religious tracts, chapbooks, literature for juveniles, and short separately-issued tales. Collections of tales are generally included, but miscellanies (especially where the prose fiction is outweighed by other genres) are not. The database does not provide records for works from an earlier period republished in the years surveyed, nor does it record English-language works solely published in foreign countries.

Whereas the layout of the main records approximates the organization of individual entries in volume 2 of The English Novel 1770–1829, there are a number of significant differences, the product in part of the different systems operating in a database, and also in response to the need for more screen-friendly brevity. (A more detailed account of procedure in individual records, and the differences involved, will be found below.) It is important to note that the present database is not intended to supersede the printed bibliography—though a number of discoveries made since the bibliography have been included—and that it is essential for researchers to operate with both resources in conjunction (symptomatic of this is the frequent cross-reference from the database to The English Novel, for example to the more extensive matter found in the notes to its entries). Copies of both volumes of The English Novel 1770–1829 (ISBN 0-19-818317-8, 0-19-818318-6) are currently available from Oxford University Press <>.Click here to go to the top of the page.

Components of Each Record
A full entry consists of the following 10 ‘fields’:

  1. Year
  2. Names of Author(s) and Translator(s)
  3. Gender
  4. Full Title
  5. Place of Publication and Imprint details
  6. Pagination and Format
  7. Catalogue numbers: comprising holding library and shelf mark of copy examined, plus references to other catalogues
  8. Notes
  9. Further Editions
  10. DBF record number

i) Year
The year given is the year of publication of the copy examined, invariably a first edition (or, in a very few instances, a record of the first edition reconstituted from other sources). This year as a rule reflects imprints dates, or, in those few cases where dates are not found on title-pages, what can be surmised to have been the main year of publication. In cases where it is known that the novel was actually available shortly before the imprint year (say in a preceding November), this information can often be found in supplementary material in the database, but is not reflected in the year given in this field. Where differing dates are found in the same edition of multi-volume works, say as a result of sequential publication, the year given is the earliest found there.

ii) Names of Author(s) and Translator(s)
The full names of original authors are given in this field, and, in appropriate cases, the names of translators on a separate line. Generally the name given represents the most common accepted form, and normally matches that adopted in vol. 2 of The English Novel, 1770–1829. The names used are standardised throughout, facilitating searches in the database, and (unlike The English Novel) no attempt is made within this field to distinguish between named and identified authors or to reflect actual names as they appear on individual title-pages. In cases where an author name changes within the period surveyed, as through a female author adopting a married surname, the name most frequently found is the one that is used (the form ‘Sydney Owenson [afterwards Morgan, Lady Sydney]’ is thus used throughout, even for those titles where the title-page bears the name Lady Morgan). Where no author has been identified, this is signified by ‘ANON’. Where an element of doubt exists about the authorship, or where there are two contending names for the authorship, the author name is followed by a question mark. (In the ‘Results’ pages in the database, the question mark precedes author names.) A pseudonymous name is followed by ‘[pseud.]’, with doubt as to whether the name is real or not being indicated by ‘[pseud.?]’.

iii) Gender
Three broad categories are in use in this field: ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘unknown’. These are usually arrived at from named or researched author identities, with unidentified anonymous works supplying the gender-unknown category. Positive gender distinctions are nevertheless given in the case of pseudonyms such as ‘Rosalia St Clair’, where there are strong reasons for believing the true author was a woman. Initials only (e.g. ‘T. E.’) are normally treated as unknown, but formulations such as ‘H. L. Barnum’ are treated as most likely male. Heavily gendered title-page descriptions such as ‘By an Officer of Dragoons’ and ‘By a Young Lady’ are generally taken at face value for this purpose (it is should be noted that evidence for the adoption of gender-crossing names by authors in this period is fairly minimal.) On the other hand, implications of female or male authorship, as found in preliminaries or secondary material such as reviews, are not treated as decisive in determining gender for this purpose. A more sophisticated system for analysing authorship by gender (including more refined categories such as ‘male named’ and ‘female implied’) can be found in the Introduction to vol. 2 of The English Novel 1770–1829: see especially pp. 72–76.Click here to go to the top of the page.

iv) Full Title
The title is given in full as it appears on the title-page, with italic block capitals being used throughout, no attempt being made to replicate peculiar fonts and combinations of letters found in the originals. Mottoes and special headers are generally excluded, though these may be picked up in the Notes field as special features of interest. Where an engraved title-page is found in addition to a standard (conventionally printed) title-page, the latter is transcribed, though any significant variants or additional features in the engraved title are recorded in the Notes. In the case of multi-volume works, title details are normally taken from the first volume: where variations are found between the titles of different volumes of a novel, the differences are recorded in the Notes section.

v) Place of Publication and Imprint Details
The first-named place of publication on the original imprint is given first, followed (after a colon) by the full details of publishers, booksellers, and printers as they appear on the title-page up to the imprint date. A comma separates this information from the date, which is always given in arabic numerals even when in roman on the original. In the very few number of instances where the main place of publication or publisher is absent on the title-page and has been inferred or researched from other sources, this information has been silently added, with the Notes being used to record this factor. In the case of a number of works where ‘New York’ or ‘Philadelphia’ features first on the imprint, though in actuality the work is a British reprint of an American title, this has been replaced by the true place of publication followed by the London publisher details as found later in the imprint, the fuller imprint details being recorded in the Notes field. Where no date is given on the title-page the abbreviation n.d. (no date) is used, followed by an attributed date in square brackets (e.g. ‘n.d. [1805]’). With multi-volume works the first volume normally supplies the details, and any differences found in the imprint information in other volumes is recorded in the Notes. In the case of different years of publication between volumes of the same work, this is presented in the form of a split date at the end of the entry, e.g. ‘1809/12’. Printer details not found within the imprint itself are not recorded in this field, though details found elsewhere in colophons and other printer’s marks are recorded in the Notes where considered especially significant.

vi) Pagination and Format
This field begins with the number of volumes in the work. This is followed in parenthesis by a record of pagination, with the last roman and arabic number being given for each volume. Illustrations are abbreviated as ‘ill.’, and are signalled after the page number, separated by a comma: normally this is reserved for cases where pictorial images are included, vignettes consisting only of a design not normally being counted as illustrations. The presence of music, when likewise an integral part of the original publication, is similarly recorded. Format, in this period most commonly duodecimo (12mo) or octavo (8vo), is then given, this having been determined by collation of leaves of all copies individually examined. Examination of the format as given in Contextual materials found in the database, for example newspaper advertisements and reviews, will sometimes disclose a disparity between the format registered there and the actual format as determined by bibliographical collation.Click here to go to the top of the page.

vii) Catalogue Numbers: comprising holding library and shelf mark of copy examined, plus references to other catalogues
This field always begins with an abbreviation for the library holding the copy of the novel examined (or statement of inability to find a copy), followed by the holding library’s press-mark. In the case of novels held by the Corvey library, where no current catalogue numbers exist, the ISBN of the Corvey Microfiche edition (CME) is given as the most useful identification, following ‘Corvey’ after a semi-colon. In a few cases, where the Corvey copy proved unsuitable (e.g. through incompleteness) and alternative copies were sought to provide the record, the CME number is still supplied after the main contributing library and its press-mark. References are then given to four other catalogues: The English Catalogue of Books, 1801–1836 (ECB, citation by page number); The English Novel, 1770–1829, vol. 2 (EN2, by entry number); The Nineteenth-Century Short-Title Catalogue (NSTC, by Reference number); and the online OCLC First Search WorldCat Catalogue (OCLC, by Accession number) In the case of NSTC, where more than one Reference number is sometimes found for a title, the policy has been to select the number keyed to author name or the more substantial entry, granted its details unequivocally match the edition described for the record; in the case of the OCLC Accession number, the most substantial record has been chosen, with the same governing condition. Where the novel recorded is not present in vol. 2 of The English Novel, 1770–1829, the relevant Update number where it first appeared is given instead; xNSTC and xOCLC are also used to signify the absence of the specific edition of the novel used for the record in those catalogues.

viii) Notes
The Notes section does not attempt to record information comprehensively, but is aimed at providing users with additional information of significance, including for example details from the preliminaries of novels (e.g. Prefaces and Dedications). In the case of translations from another language, basic details are provided of the original source text and date and place of publication. Where novels were originally published in North America this too is noted. Additional information about authorship is to be found in this field, with brief comments on attributions and explanations of difficulties encountered in ascription. References will also be found to the presence of further information in The English Novel, 1770–1829, the four Updates to vol. 2 of the English Novel, and the Contextual materials in the present database (clicking the relevant button at the base of the individual records).

ix) Further Edtions
This field supplies a record of further editions up to 1850. In identifying these, NSTC and OCLC have played a major part, though additional information has also been culled from earlier printed catalogues such as Michael Sadleir’s XIX Century Fiction: A Bibliographical Record (1951). Up to five further editions published in Britain and Ireland are listed, with supporting references in parenthesis (in those cases where xNSTC or xOCLC have been recorded in the Catalogue Numbers field, a full reference number is also given for the first British or Irish edition to be found in those resources). Places of publication are recorded only if they differ from that of the original edition. Where more than five editions have been identified, the number of additional editions reliably identified is given in square brackets (e.g. as ‘[at least 4 more editions to 1850]’). The sequence of British and Irish editions is then followed by a citation of the first known North American edition before 1850, except in cases where the American edition preceded the first British edition (in which case the latter supplies the main record, and information about its American predecessor is provided in the Notes field). In cases where different editions appear to have been published in the first known year of publication in North America (e.g. in both New York and Philadelphia), the first of these alphabetically by place of publication is given, followed by the other(s). Details are also supplied of the first known translations into French and German up to 1850, with a record of titles where these differ substantively and/or interestingly from the English original.

x) DBF Record Number
This field provides a unique code for each title recorded in British Fiction, 1800–1829, enabling users to make precise reference to appropriate records. The sequence of numbering broadly follows the system of Year, Author, Title to generate an 8-digit code in the form 1800A000, etc.; addition of new records to the database means, however, that this ordering is not always strictly followed.

 © 2004 Project Director: Professor Peter Garside;
 Research Associates: Dr Jacqueline Belanger, Dr Sharon Ragaz;
 Database/Website Developer: Dr Anthony Mandal
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