Publishers of neglected books

Angel Classics

Angel Classics was started in 1982 by Antony Wood, an editor and translator from Russian and German, who “felt passionately that much good literature of the past, especially foreign literature, tended to be passed over by publishers in favour of what was more modern and usually less lasting, and that a high proportion of published translations were poor or outdated.” Angel Classic’s short list includes the majority of the works of the German novelists Theodor Fontane and Theodor Storm now available in English.

Black Squirrel Books

A special imprint from Kent State University Press, Black Squirrel Books is devoted to “reprints of valuable studies of Ohio and its people, including historical writings, literary studies, biographies, and literature.” Which in and of itself wouldn’t rate a mention here were it not for the fact that the series includes two reissues from the once-legendary tough-guy writer, Jim Tully, who wrote trailer-trash fiction well before trailer parks were invented, and who gave Hemingway and other artistes the space to experiment with brutality, violence, and bare-boned sexuality with gutsy novels like Laughter in Hell and Circus Parade.

Canongate Books

This mainstream UK publisher also keeps a good chunk of what it calls the Scottish canon in print with its Canongate Classics.

Capuchin Classics

A fine UK press “reviving great works of fiction which have been unjustly forgotten or neglected.” Among their reissues are such worthy long-lost works as Eric Linklater’s comedy, Juan in America and Tom Stacey’s elegaic The Man Who Knew Everything. You can also find Capuchin’s blog online at thecapuchinclassicsblog.blogspot.com.

Crippen and Landru

A small press based in Norfolk, Virginia, whose Lost Classics series showcases outstanding collections of short detective fiction from the past.

Eland Books

Owned and run by travel writers John Hatt, Rose Baring, and Barnaby Rogerson, Eland “specializes in keeping the classics of travel literature in print.” Although its list has well under a hundred titles, Eland easily takes the first place award when it comes to bringing long-lost travel books of particular excellence back to print.

Faber Finds

Debuting June 2008, Faber Finds is the most ambitious venture into republication of neglected classics since the launch of NYRB Classics. Starting with 100 titles chosen by Faber’s editors and authors such as Wendy Cope, Jan Morris, Andrew Motion and Brian Friel, the series promises to carry out with even more titles, inviting readers to submit their own nominees by emailing them at lostandfound@faber.co.uk.

1500 Books

Founded by two veterans of the publishing business, Eileen Bertelli and Gavin Caruthers, 1500 Books’ list is devoted to the art of the memoir: “We believe memoirs—when it’s a good story, well told—can be some of the most compelling reading you will ever experience.” Their star release so far is the reissue of Lucy Norton’s three-volume 1967 English translation of one of the juiciest memoirs ever written, that of King Louis XIV’s advisor, the Duc de Saint Simon: 1691-1709: Presented to the King; 1710-1715: The Bastards Triumphant; and 1715-1723: Fatal Weakness.

Graywolf Press

A strong independent press based in the Pacific Northwest, Graywolf published a series of “rediscoveries” between 1996 and 2002.

Hesperus Press

Independent publishers specialising in new translations of European works, contemporary British, American and European literary fiction, and lesser-known classics. As Lyn put it in her I Prefer Reading blog, “Hesperus Press books are also beautiful. They’re all around 100pp long, the cover photos are gorgeous, the paper is creamy & I love the French flaps (I think that’s what they’re called) that make the book a little sturdier than a paperback but not as heavy as a hardback.” As of March 2010, however, their website had been “under construction” for months.

Mercury House

Mercury House, a Literary Arts Project, is a nonprofit press based in San Francisco that’s released a number of titles in its “Neglected Literary Classics” series, including George Sand’s Horace, The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson (nom de plume of Ethel Richardson), and Fantastic Tales, the first English translation of stories by I.U. Tarchetti, who was known as the Italian Edgar Allan Poe.

The Neversink Library, from Melville House Publishing

Named after a ship in Melville’s early novel, White-Jacket, the Neversink Library, according to the series’ webpage, “champions books from around the world that have been overlooked, underappreciated, looked askance at, or foolishly ignored. They are issued in handsome, well-designed editions at reasonable prices in hopes of their passing from one reader to another – and further enriching our culture.”

NYRB Classics

An outstanding series of reissues from NYRB Books, the publishing arm of the New York Review of Books. Unknown Masterpieces, one of the Sources for this site, collects introductory essays from some of its first three-dozen titles. In 2003, the press initiated a parallel series of children’s classics, bringing back long-out-of-print titles by Esther Averill, Eleanor Farjeon, and others.

Northwestern University Press’ European Classics series

A remarkable series of novels and short story collections by European authors from the last 200 years, including a number of forgotten prizewinners such as Nobel Prize winning authors Grazia Deledda and Ivan Bunin and Eastern European authors such as Karel Capek, Bohumil Hrabal, Ilf and Petrov, and Leonid Dobychin.

The Overlook Press

Launched in 1971 by Peter Mayer as a home for distinguished books that had been “overlooked” by larger houses, Overlook has brought back a number of neglected classics, including most of the novels of Joseph Roth and the “Freddy the Pig” series of childrens’ book by Walter R. Brooks. In particular, its Tusk Ivory series features books the editors at Overlook feel have continuing value, books usually dropped by other publishers because of “the realities of the marketplace,” and includes a number of titles listed on this site.

Paul Dry Books

This Philadelphia-based small press has reissued a number well-loved neglected classics, including John Collier’s His Monkey Wife and Walter de la Mare’s Memoirs of a Midget

Permanent Press

Home of the Second Chance Press, whose catalog of reissues is one of the Sources for this site.

Persephone Books

Founded by Nicola Beauman, the author of A Very Great Profession: The Woman’s Novel 1914-39, Persephone prints mainly forgotten fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women. In the words of the publisher’s website, “The titles are chosen to appeal to busy women who rarely have time to spend in ever-larger bookshops and who would like to have access to a list of books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial. The books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget.”

SUNY Press

The State University of New York (SUNY) Press, among its many recent, mostly academic, releases, has published a number of little-known or forgotten titles, particularly in its Women Writers in Translation series, which so far has brought out some titles in English translation for the first time, such as The Ravine, by Nivaria Tejera, a gripping novel depicting a child’s experience of the Spanish Civil War.

Tam Tam Books

Tam Tam Books “specializes in 20th Century international literature and is devoted to the purpose of reprinting lost masterpieces and presenting them to a large English speaking audience.” Their catalog so far includes works by Serge Gainsbourg, Boris Vian, and Guy Debord.

Traviata Books

With a small but growing catalog, Traviata Books specialises in “republishing works, mainly from the 19th century, which have been unjustly forgotten – either completely, or because their authors are now remembered for only a small part of their output.” Their titles include The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade and the intriguing Quits! by Jemima Montgomery, Baroness Tautphoeus.

University of Michigan Press

In what is probably the shortest (so far) series of reissues, the U of M Press began its Sweetwater Fiction: Reintroductions in 2004 under the editorship of Charles Baxter and Keith Taylor. So far, the series has all of three titles: Castle Nowhere, by Constance Fenimore Woolson; A Frieze of Girls by Allan Seager; and Sherwood Anderson’s memoir, A Story Teller’s Story.

University of Nebraska Press

This fine unversity press supports neglected books on several fronts. First, it has long kept the works of the native Nebraskan and fine novelist Wright Morris in print. And second, its Bison Frontiers of Imagination has reissued over 50 titles of pioneering — and often long-unavailable — works of early speculative and science fiction.

Valancourt Books

A small publisher based in Chicago, Valancourt Books has launched three series reissuing rare works from the 18th and 19th centuries: Gothic Classics, reviving some of the lesser-known works from the great period of the Gothic novel; Irish Classics, reprinting neglected Irish novels; and Valancourt Classics, highlighting some of the rarest works, including the ultra-rare The Forest of Valancourt by Peter Middleton Darling, of which the only known copy (prior to its reissue) was held by the Bodleian Library.

Virago Modern Classics

For over a decade now, the Virago Press has been bringing a rich series of the works of 20th century English and American women writers back into print.

Westholme Publishing

A small publisher whose diverse catalog includes several reissues of long-neglected books, including William Bradford Huie’s The Execution of Private Slovik and Ladislas Farago’s tribute to his homeland, Strictly from Hungary.

Whisky Priest Books

Whisky Priest Books is the personal experiment in print-on-demand publishing by J. R. S. Morrison, whose Caustic Cover Critic blog celebrates the best (and castigates the worst) in today’s book cover designers. Morrison started Whisky Priest to provide “out-of-copyright books I want copies of, and which, with any luck, other people might want to read as well.” And unlike the majority of print-on-demand publishers who suck content out of Project Gutenberg and other sites and slap it into covers about as inspired as cans of generic food, Morrison puts real thought into his covers (such as for Arnold Gyde’s Contemptible).

7th July 2006