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A Book in the Hand: Essays on the History of the Book in New Zealand

Seven: Attila of the Antipodes; or, The Mad Hatter's Tea-Party: The publishing history of Edith Lyttleton (G. B. Lancaster) in the 1930s

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Seven: Attila of the Antipodes; or, The Mad Hatter's Tea-Party: The publishing history of Edith Lyttleton (G. B. Lancaster) in the 1930s

This essay is about an episode in the publishing history of one of New Zealand's most widely read fiction writers, outside the country, during the first half of the 20th century: the popular novelist and short story writer, Edith Lyttleton (1873-1945), who wrote under the pen-name of G. B. Lancaster. The episode belongs to the 1930s, but has all the elements of behind-the-scenes intrigue, deception, and conflict reminiscent of a 19th-century antipodean melodrama of the goldrush days; except that the gold nuggets were three of Lyttleton's books, frontier romances of the British Empire which she called 'Dominion-historical novels' and which appeared between 1933 and 1938. At the end of the story, it also needs to be said, the central conflict remained unresolved, though the villains — the American and British publishing establishments, and servile literary agencies — had had their noses bloodied, and the heroine (doing battle both on her own behalf for a fair share of the profits her books earned, and in support of moves to establish an independent publishing industry in Australia and New Zealand) remained defiant, if exhausted.

To the journalists who regularly wrote about Edith Lyttleton in the 1930s, when she was in her sixties and had begun to give interviews for the first time in her life, she seemed shy and retiring, a genteel lady of slight build who was deeply reticent about her achievements as a writer. The reality was somewhat more complex than that. She was a woman who fought long and hard for the page 86
Edith Lyttleton, September 1933. Courtesy Mrs Margaret Garrett

Edith Lyttleton, September 1933. Courtesy Mrs Margaret Garrett

economic independence she was trying to achieve as a professional writer and as a woman, and for matters of principle as they affected fellow authors and publishers in Australia and New Zealand. 'They are a Mad Hatter's Tea-Party, the lot of them',1 she wrote in frustration to an American friend, of the behaviour of the American publishers and agent she was dealing with. About the agent himself she raged, some months later, 'He has sent me raving mad, & if he wasn't so nasty I'd like to bite him',2 advising her friend — who was a young American college professor — 'Get it into your head that all publishers & agents are out for what they can get, & unless you are prepared to fight them you will get left.'3 To her British publisher, who was initially sympathetic to the difficulties her American contract had landed her in, she confided 'Oh, it is all a horrid mix-up and I'm getting hit all round.'4 Later she wrote of him (preserving his anonymity): 'An English pub. once told me page 87
Example of Edith Lyttleton's handwriting. The postcard to Paul Wallace contains the phrase 'He [Jones, her agent] has sent me raving mad, & if he wasn't so nasty I'd like to bite him'

Example of Edith Lyttleton's handwriting. The postcard to Paul Wallace contains the phrase 'He [Jones, her agent] has sent me raving mad, & if he wasn't so nasty I'd like to bite him'

that Barabbas was a publisher. Now, I thought, here is a publisher with a conscience. I can trust him. Then I discovered that he was really Barabbas himself, re-incarnated with a superior technique'.5 Most of all she resented the intrusion on her writing of the seemingly endless amounts of time spent in arguments and negotiations with publishers and agents: 'I've had this experience every time, but the cunning brutes always know how to get the better of me.'6 'The rank & file image', she complained, '[is] that once a book's written the author just sits back & rakes in the shekels. My work only really begins then.'7

During the half dozen years 1932-8 she wrote many hundreds of business letters. First there were those to the principals of her American and British publishers: the Century Company, then Doubleday-Century, of New York, and the British firm of Allen & Unwin, whose prestigious imprints she wished to retain even as page 88 the deviousness of their dealings with her became apparent. Then there were many letters — increasingly angry and bitter — to her New York and London literary agents, who she came to believe had betrayed her interests (and the interests of other Australian and New Zealand writers) either through culpable ignorance or self-interest. Agents were a species for whom she always reserved a special contempt: it appeared to be the only profession, she wrote, 'requiring neither examinations, capital, entrance fees, nor very much brain.'8 Unfortunately, an agent was a 'necessary evil', especially for 'those who live far from literary centres'; 'but', she went on, 'he is an evil.'

There were also many letters to the Australian publishing firms whose fitful efforts in the 1930s to break the long-entrenched monopoly of British publishers on what the latter had until quite recently called in their contracts 'colonies and dependencies' she supported, although she was under no illusions that Australian publishing practices were also urgently in need of reform. In 1937 she called publicly for such reform, seeking in Australia 'a modern pub. system operating with vision', adding that she 'did not mean philanthropists': 'I have had a very large experience of publishers in various parts of the world, & I should imagine that no hyphen was stout enough to hold those two words together. Nor would authors wish it.'9 The firms she dealt with included the Australasian Book Publishing Co., a subsidiary of the Sydney Bulletin, which in 1933 set up a new press, the Endeavour Press, committed to publishing high quality Australian fiction; the firm of P. R. Stephensen & Co., which Stephensen set up on his own account after he fell out as Managing Director with the Endeavour Press; and later, after the collapse of both of those initiatives, the firm of Angus & Robertson, much longer established but with a poor record, at that time, of support for quality Australian or New Zealand fiction.

Finally, there was a great deal of correspondence with the British Society of Authors, upon whose legal advice and moral support she came increasingly to rely in her dealings with publishers and agents. Initially she consulted the Society about contractual matters, but later sought its support in dealing with the threat of blacklisting by British publishers, and then of court action, if she persisted in withholding Australasian rights in contracts with British publishers. This she was determined to do in order to leave herself free to negotiate separate contracts with local page 89 Australasian publishers. A great deal of this business correspondence has survived, as well as ongoing accounts of her struggles in personal letters to friends. They provide a rare behind-the-scenes insight into the international system of book publication in the 1930s, and the ways in which it affected New Zealand as well as Australian novelists.

The status of the New Zealand market in fact became a bone of contention quite early on in these protracted conflicts, when the British Publishers' Association (BPA) seemed willing to concede that the Australian market was 'lost', and thus allow authors to reserve the right to make separate contracts with Australian publishers. But the BPA remained determined to stop the infection from spreading throughout the rest of the Empire. In particular it did not want Australian publishers competing with them in the New Zealand market. Edith Lyttleton's situation had a particular centrality to such conflicts. She was herself a New Zealander, and as she wrote at one stage to her English agent: 'If the Pub. Ass. gets angry enough do you think it might insist on New Zealand excluding Aus. publications? Rather a joke for me.'10 Furthermore the president of the BPA, Stanley (later Sir Stanley) Unwin, of the firm of Allen & Unwin, was at this time her own British publisher and hardly a disinterested party, though he always implied to her, in his gentlemanly, avuncular manner, that he was looking after her own best interests. Edith Lyttleton stood firm, insisting that she wanted the New Zealand market for her books to be supplied from Australia, not from England. There were no suitable publishers in New Zealand; moreover the distribution arrangements of the best Australian firms were more comprehensive and quicker, the quality of book production generally better than that of the often cheaply printed British colonial editions, and the author's royalty rate at least double and often treble what she received from British publishers for colonial sales.

In Australia in recent years there have been a number of studies of the efforts to promote a more active and independent Australian publishing industry which occurred in the 1930s. These studies11 have explored the roles of Australian publishers, of the then recently formed national authors' organisation (the Fellowship of Australian Writers), and of individuals like Norman Lindsay, Miles Franklin, Marjorie Barnard, and especially the quixotic cultural nationalist, P. R. Stephensen.12 Although Lyttleton's contribution to this history is as important as any, it has remained largely page 90 unacknowledged. All three of her 1930s novels provided key test cases for Australian and New Zealand authors seeking to resist the wholesale handing over of their rights which British and American publishers, in different ways, demanded.

Adventures in America

Towards the end of 1932, when Edith Lyttleton's story begins, the first of these three novels, Pageant , an epic of Tasmania's 19th century convict and settlement history, was in press and shortly to appear from one of the largest corporate publishing companies in the United States, the Century Company of New York. The second, The world is yours , a romance set in the contemporary Yukon territory of North-west Canada, had just been completed in manuscript and was in the hands of her New York agent, Francis Arthur Jones. The third, a historical novel set in 19th century New Zealand, published in 1938 with the title Promenade , existed at the end of 1932 only as an idea for her next project. But it was an idea which she had communicated to her agent and to the directors of the Century Company, and — though as yet unwritten — became a key material factor in the protracted contractual disputes which ensued.

These three books in fact represented a new departure in Lyttleton's writing, an attempt to establish a second literary career after a period of eight years in which she had published almost nothing. Prior to that, in New Zealand until 1909 and in London until 1925, she had established herself as New Zealand's first successful professional fiction writer, contributing hundreds of short stories to New Zealand, Australian, British and American popular general magazines, and publishing eight novels in both England and the United States, three of which were made into Hollywood silent movies. Two of the novels of this second period, Pageant and Promenade, were the best books she ever wrote, alongside her last, Grand parade , which appeared in 1943. The third, The world is yours, was much slighter, a revision of a Yukon book she had tried unsuccessfully to write in the early 1920s.

Lyttleton's initial experience in Great Britain with the manuscript of Pageant, which she had completed in New Zealand in 1930 and for which she held high hopes, was one of disappointment. She was so unhappy with her English agent, the firm of J. B. Pinker & Sons, for submitting the manuscript to Ward,

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Advertisement to booksellers for the Reynal and Hitchcock (American) edition of Promenade, 1938. It includes detailed marketing information, as well as an artist's impression of 19th-century Auckland used as the jacket illustration.

Advertisement to booksellers for the Reynal and Hitchcock (American) edition of Promenade, 1938. It includes detailed marketing information, as well as an artist's impression of 19th-century Auckland used as the jacket illustration.

Locke (publishers of children's books and light, frothy romances), who knocked it back, that she withdrew it, sacked the agent, and took it with her to the United States, where in 1932 she gave it to her New York agent, Francis Arthur Jones. She was delighted when Jones placed it with the Century Company, whose enthusiasm about the manuscript quite won her over, although she later admitted to some qualms about the contract she was persuaded to sign. In a talk on publishing which she gave in Australia and New Zealand a few years later she contrasted the old-school-tie style of British family publishers ('stiff with tradition') with the hype of the American syndicates ('nebulous affairs like the Cornstalk Co., the Century Co., the Atlantic Co., [whose] business and literary managers are salaried men'). Though unspecified, the encounter she describes is based on her visit to the office of the Century Company in July 1932 to discuss the contract for Pageant:

You go to the publishing office and are shot up 12 or 15 stories to a large flat, all little cubicles with no doors, and from every cubicle an page 92 interested typist peeps out to see who's coming. An apparently enraptured clerk who gives the impression that he has been waiting all day for you on the door-mat shows you to a comfortable chair, and next moment appears the literary manager, full of apologies for having kept you waiting. He takes you to his room . . . which is quite devoid of graces, sits down opposite you and says: I don't care what it costs. I'm going to have your book. He knows it is quite safe to say that since the business manager will be in to pulverize you directly. After compliments he calls the business manager . .. who arrives with such alacrity that you suspect him of listening at the door. With him come all the sub-managers, clerks and so on who can squeeze into the tiny room. They are all very young and keen and cheerful; they all shake hands and are pleased to meet you. Then the business manager sits on the corner of the desk and says: Well, now, what was the matter with that contract I sent you? So you proceed to argue it out, with the literary manager saying at intervals: I don't care what it costs. I'm going to have it. But that doesn't worry the business manager at all. He takes up the points patiently and courteously, pouring out a volume of explanations with everyone standing round listening like students at an operation.'13

Although Edith Lyttleton knew that the contract she signed soon afterwards (enthusiastically advised to do so by her agent Jones) was not especially good, it took only a few months — well before the book was published in fact — for her to begin to realise how thoroughly bad it was, and how the effects of its provisions were to deprive her of large proportions of royalty income, embroil her in the complications of the international publishing industry, and involve her in a struggle to support the establishment of an independent publishing industry in Australia and New Zealand.

According to the contract, the Century was given 'the exclusive right of publication throughout the world' and Pageant was to be published in February 1933 at a price of $2.50 per copy [approximately NZ$40 in 1998 values].14 The author was to receive an advance payment on royalties of US$250, and the royalty rate itself was 10 per cent on the first 10,000 copies, thereafter 15 per cent. A number of additional clauses were typed in, giving the Century half the proceeds of serial and translation rights, half the royalties on Canadian sales, and 10 per cent on film rights. They also included an undertaking by the company to try to have the book manufactured in Great Britain and marketed in the British page 93 Empire, from which any royalties or profits would be equally divided between the author and the publisher. Lyttleton later commented, once the ramifications of this clause became apparent, that she 'did sign it on the understanding that it did not mean what it did, and that it merely meant The Century would negotiate English and other rights for me. My agent explained that, as I had no English agent, this would be the best way for me.'15

Shortly after this, in August, the Century sent Lyttleton a letter to sign, 'just to avoid any possible misunderstanding in the future','16 with three further clauses which they mentioned had been pasted into the contract but missed when she signed it: the first granted the Century an option on the author's next two novels; the second divided any lump-sum payment for large special orders from Book-of-the-Month clubs or the Literary Guild equally between the Century and the author; and in the third the author agreed that all monies due to her were to be paid through her agent, Jones, in New York. Although Lyttleton was not aware of it, negotiations were already under way between the Century and the Literary Guild for the novel to be included in the Guild's 1933 Book-of-the Month list, and the company was moving fast to maximise any potential profits, on this and future books. Lyttleton herself was at this time uncertain about the likely success of the book: she was anxious to re-establish her career and to give the book every chance, even if it meant smaller returns than she had been used to in the past; she was aware that the book did not as yet have a British publisher, and had been perfunctorily treated by her agent there; and she was delighted to have attracted so prestigious a firm as the Century. She signed the additional clauses.

By November, some of the implications of the contract began to become apparent. The Century informed Edith Lyttleton that the American Literary Guild had chosen the novel as its Book-of-the-Month for February 1933, and had contracted to purchase 30,000 copies for $6,000 [NZ$100,000], of which the Century, under one of the later pasted-on clauses, would keep half. The company also informed her that it had sold the British Empire rights, excluding Canada (which they kept), to the British firm of Allen & Unwin, who would publish the book in England in the same month, February. She did not discover until later that the advance payment of £100 they required from Allen & Unwin, of which they kept half, more than covered the $250 advance royalties due to herself on the American edition!

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In the meantime she had also been approached for work by P. R. Stephensen, on behalf of the Bulletin's newly established Endeavour Press in Sydney. She knew Stephensen from earlier years when he had been studying in England, but the initiative to approach her is likely to have come from Miles Franklin, whom she had met on several occasions during a visit to Australia from New Zealand in the late 1920s. Franklin, who knew of her Tasmanian project and was also actively supporting the new local publishing initiatives, wrote to her: '[T]his Australian edition [of Pageant] I consider a great thing towards setting up real Australian publishing and getting authors free from a subordinate tacked-on position in London.'17

However Lyttleton was dismayed to find that under her Century contract she was not free to come to a separate arrangement with the Endeavour Press to publish Pageant in Australia — and have it distributed from there in New Zealand as well — and that the Australian rights were now wholly owned by Allen & Unwin.

By November 1932 she had also completed the manuscript of her Yukon novel, The world is yours, and anxious to avoid the problems emerging for her with the Pageant contract, she left the new manuscript with Jones in New York. She instructed him to seek serial publication only and delay placing it as a book. Her aim was to use whatever publicity she got from its serial publication (if that could be achieved), as well as from Pageant after it appeared in February, to strengthen her negotiating position for a contract on the new book. She then set sail for England — where she had lived from 1910 to 1925 and established herself as a popular fiction writer — planning to return to New Zealand later in 1933 to begin her New Zealand novel, Promenade.

Shortly after her arrival, however, she was again dismayed to discover that Jones had promptly taken the manuscript direct to the Century and was urging her to sign a contract he had arranged with the company — which was, as far as the disposal of rights was concerned, in every respect the same as the iniquitous Pageant contract, although it offered a marginally improved royalty rate (10 per cent on the first 2,500 sales, 12 1/2 per cent on the next 2,500 sales, and 15 per cent thereafter) and an advance of $500 compared with $250 for Pageant. In addition Jones had the effrontery, or the stupidity, to suggest that although he had always, as he put it, 'done his best' for her on a basis of 10 per cent page 95 commission, his normal commission was 15 per cent, but he would still be willing to 'do his best' if she agreed to split the difference and agree to 12 1/2 per cent.'18 All this, still, before Pageant had appeared, so that she would be signed and sealed on her next book with the Century, and with Jones's agency, before the publicity on her first reached any competitors.

She took the issue of Jones's commission to the British Society of Authors, who informed her that the normal commission for 'reputable agents' in both England and the United States was in fact 10 per cent.19 'How many bests do people in America have?', she replied angrily to Jones.20 He backed down. She also took the proposed Century contract for The world is yours to the Society of Authors for advice. They pronounced it 'far from satisfactory' and provided two pages of detailed amendments to no less than ten of the contract's sixteen clauses.21 From this point on Lyttleton conducted her own difficult and protracted negotiations with her publishers, though since she had initially given the manuscript to Jones he was automatically entitled to 10 per cent agent's commission on the improved arrangements she was eventually able to make. Effectively, she complained, she became his agent, while he sat in his New York office, collecting his 10 per cent.

She now approached Stanley Unwin directly, to see whether she could come to an arrangement with him to allow the Endeavour Press to publish a separate edition of Pageant in Australia, since she was receiving increasingly importunate cables from Stephensen, offering very good terms for it. Unwin was sympathetic to her plight, and thought very highly of her novel, which he was at that time preparing for publication in England. He was aware that under her contract with the Century, Lyttleton would receive only half the royalty income on his English edition, the other half going to the Century. He was also embroiled in a dispute with the Century over the distribution of income from the sale of the translation rights of Pageant , which he was currently negotiating in both Sweden and Denmark. The Century were claiming half, the remainder to be divided between the author and Allen & Unwin; Allen & Unwin were also claiming half, the remainder to be divided between the author and the Century. In either case, the author would be left with only a quarter of the proceeds!

Lyttleton liked and respected Stanley Unwin. He belonged to an old-school-tie family publishing tradition, which Lyttleton page 96 contrasted with the hustling style of the new American corporate publishers:

You go to [an] old uncomfortable building . . . where none of the clerks, sitting on high stools, takes any notice of you for quite a long time. They are engaged in parcelling up books and rejected manuscripts ... & you are sure you see your own rejected manuscript being parcelled up over & over again ... A very long wait puts you in a sufficiently chastened condition to be ushered upstairs to the publisher's sanctum. Here a gracious gentleman in suitable surroundings subtly makes you feel that he is his own great grandfather ... & that you are his great grandfather's client back in the days when one paid to have books published .. . He talks of his holiday in Switzerland . .. of his brother's illness ... of the death of a friend ... of his neuritis .... Tea is brought in . . . cigarettes lit. . . there is more about his neuritis ... perhaps he will have his teeth out. By this time you are so sorry for him that you want to say: My dear sir, take my book as a gift if it will comfort you. But there has been no mention of books, & you begin to understand that he has not recognized you as a writer & apparently mistakes you for a long-lost friend .... Then, quite suddenly he throws himself back in his chair & says: Well. I have decided to take your book. It is so dramatic that you feel you should be dramatic too; but you don't quite know how, so you sit still & say Oh? .. . Presently you get up to go. But it seems that there should be more to it than that, so — quite aware of the vulgarity — you murmur something about contracts. He waves that aside. The business manager sees to all that. In time you will receive your contract from the business-manager. You never meet the business manager, & soon recognize that it is a clear case of David Copperfield's Spenlow & Jorkins. You may wheedle Spenlow as much as you like, but though he would love to do all he can he is helpless in the hands of the invisible & implacable Jorkins."

As mentioned above, Unwin was sympathetic to Edith Lyttleton's predicament. 'We dislike exceedingly being placed in such an awkward position vis a vis yourself, he wrote to her,23 when he became aware of the way in which both his own and her contracts with the Century cut across the 'normal' contractual arrangements between British publishers and colonial authors, at the expense of the author. However he was also an astute businessman, and knew that the unfolding Pageant scenario potentially page 97 offered a double threat to the future of the British publishing industry: from the American publishing industry, as it moved competitively into the established colonial market; and from the colonial territories themselves, seeking to exploit that competition and set up their own independent publishing industries.

Unwin initially told Lyttleton that it was too late to arrange for an Australian publication of Pageant , and that although he supported the idea of Australia publishing its own books, many local booksellers were opposed because the publishers there were also booksellers and monopolised the market. Presumably the main such publisher/bookseller he had in mind was the firm of Angus & Robertson. However he eventually agreed to arrange a sub-contract with the Endeavour Press, on the basis of a royalty arrangement which Edith Lyttleton had herself discussed with the Endeavour Press of 1s per copy sold (the book retailed at 6s 6d, so the percentage rate was a little over 15 per cent), and an advance on royalties of £50. Allen & Unwin were to take half the royalty income, and after further haggling it was agreed that the Endeavour Press edition could be marketed in New Zealand in competition with the Allen & Unwin edition, but only after the Allen & Unwin edition had been on sale there for one month.

Pageant was published in the United States in February 1933, in England in early March, and in Australia in mid-May. How well did it do, in these mid-depression months, when in the actual week it was published in the United States the banks were closed? In the circumstances, the answer is, astonishingly well. In the United States it topped the best-seller lists in numerous main cities for several months, where its main competitor was a new Sinclair Lewis novel, Ann Vickers; it received enthusiastic notices from many of America's main reviewers of the time, and over a period of twelve months it sold close to 20,000 copies there on top of the 30,000 copies released through the American Literary Guild. One of the reviews, by Rex Hunter in the New York Sun, described Edith Lyttleton and Norman Lindsay, whose Redheap and one or two other novels had also been recently published in the United States, as 'Attilas of the Antipodes [beating] at the gates of literary America.'24

In England Pageant received excellent reviews, and sold approximately 3000 copies in its first year. Lyttleton, however, was disappointed in these sales figures and thought it had been poorly promoted. She particularly disliked an advertisement she saw page 98 which described the novel as 'a pleasant tale', although Stanley Unwin disagreed, and claimed that the novel had gone into a 'real' second impression and not a phoney second binding of a first edition, which was increasingly becoming a publisher's advertising ploy. It may be that sales reflected the dependence of British publishers on cheap colonial editions, which Allen & Unwin did not control, at least in Australia and New Zealand, as far as Pageant was concerned.

In Australia and New Zealand, the Endeavour Press edition was, as in the United States, a remarkable success. Between May and December 1933, the first edition of 5000 copies sold out, and a second edition of 5000 copies largely sold out the following year. The book won the Gold Medal of the Australian Literary Society, and Lyttleton was delighted when Jane Mander visited her in Auckland early in 1934 and informed her that Pageant , more than any other publication, had 'put [the Endeavour Press] on its feet.'25 Stephensen later wrote that 'Pageant published in Australia was a first trumpet-blast at the walls of Apathy. There will be more music of this kind.'26 Excluding Scandinavian print-runs, the novel sold in excess of 60,000 copies during its first two years, and it was kept in print in a number of cheaper editions for the next decade. It was by far the most widely read novel ever written by a New Zealander, up to that time.

If Edith Lyttleton had been able to make separate contracts for each of the three editions, her income in New Zealand pounds from the sale of those 60,000 copies (once Jones had received some £300 in commission) would have been of the order of £2,700, a very significant sum equivalent to NZ$ 160,000 in 1998. However, on English sales she was entitled to only half of her royalty income, the other half going to the Century; and on Australian and New Zealand sales, she was entitled to only a quarter of her royalty income (3d out of every 1s), since Allen & Unwin took half of it from the Endeavour Press, then sent the rest on to the Century, who took half of that before remitting the remainder to Jones, who took his bit before paying what was left to the author. On Pageant those arrangements provided an extra £500 [NZ$30,000] to Allen & Unwin and the Century, at Lyttleton's expense, without any outlay at all on their own account. Almost certainly, also, the dispute between Allen & Unwin and the Century over the division of income from translation sales cost Lyttleton several other contracts (especially for French and page 99 German editions), since Stanley Unwin was unwilling to proceed with the negotiation of additional translation rights until the dispute was resolved.

However, Lyttleton's financial situation was actually far worse than this. She discovered in mid-1933 — as the first royalty cheques came in — that as a New Zealand resident, her American earnings were subject to an 8 per cent American Aliens' tax, and that her British and Australian earnings were subject to cumulative taxes of 25 per cent in each country as they made their way to the Century in New York. Remarkably, these taxes applied to novels, but not to short stories or serials. In other words, on her British sales, 25 per cent tax was deducted before the remainder was sent to the Century, where it then attracted the 8 per cent Aliens' tax; and on her Australian earnings, 25 per cent tax was deducted by the Endeavour Press in Australia, and a further 8 per cent on what was left after Allen & Unwin had removed their 50 per cent of the royalties. Lyttleton estimated, not too inaccurately, that on her Australian and New Zealand sales these various depredations, together with the cost of the exchange transactions between each country, would reduce the 1s per copy she was due to receive to the princely sum of 1d; 'and all my friends out there,' she wrote bitterly to Unwin, 'think I am coining money.'27

She did not object to being taxed once on royalty earnings in the various countries in which Pageant was sold, for example, to the 8 per cent Aliens' tax on her American sales. But she objected vehemently to the cumulative taxes which were a direct result of her being unable to make independent contracts in each country. She never saw the contract which Allen & Unwin made with the Century for the disposal of her work, and the contract for the Endeavour Press edition was between the Endeavour Press and Allen & Unwin: Lyttleton's name was not even mentioned in this contract; it simply referred to 'a book entitled Pageant by G. B. Lancaster', and all royalties and accountings for sales were sent directly to Allen & Unwin.

It was thus not only through direct contractual arrangements that colonial authors were exploited by international publishers, but also through the operations of the international taxation system. Stanley Unwin, still protesting sympathy, wanted to arrange to pay her share of royalties coming through his office directly to her bank account in London, so that she could avoid the 8 per cent American Aliens' tax on sales outside the United States, and claim page 100 a rebate of the 25 per cent British tax. From the point of view of the British government, this was a tax paid by the Century on its British earnings under its contract with Allen & Unwin. The Century demurred, even though no loss of its own earnings was involved, believing that it would be liable for tax evasion.

In the midst of all this the hapless Jones half-offered to reduce his commission from 10 per cent to 7 per cent. It may have been that he was genuinely ignorant of the tax implications of the contract he had enthusiastically urged Lyttleton to sign, since he also lost commission on her reduced royalties, though he would not otherwise have had the agency of her non-American sales. By this act of self-denial, he implied, Lyttleton would then simply be in the same position as American writers whose 'normal' rate of commission was 15 per cent. Perhaps he was still smarting at the British Society of Authors' jibe that 'no reputable agent' in either the United States or England charged more than 10 per cent. He then suggested leaving his American commission at 10 per cent, but foregoing royalties on overseas sales. Perhaps this was a genuine offer, although the amount lost on the 3 per cent foregone in America would have been higher than the amount lost by foregoing overseas royalties entirely. Edith Lyttleton in the end ignored his efforts to shore up their relationship, commenting that on her part she had no wish to renege on agreements already made with him, for 10 per cent:

It may interest you to know that you have reduced me to such a state of nerves and exhaustion that I have had to give up writing altogether. I feel that I never want to write another book. My agents always make me bad contracts and then leave me to fight for what I can get... if anything. I wonder what you think I pay an agent for .... I shall take very good care that matters are different in future.28

At this point, in mid-1933, Edith Lyttleton turned her attention to the still unresolved contract for her next book, The world is yours, wishing to finalise American and British contracts for it before she left for New Zealand in September. In the meantime, Jones had managed to place it serially with the American journal, Good housekeeping, for US$6,000 [NZ$100,000], where it was due to run from July to December after the completion of a John Galsworthy serial. Given the success of Pageant, she believed she was well placed to make much better terms for the book, especially since page 101 the Century had now merged with the firm of Doubleday. As well, a number of former Century staff displaced by the merger had set up on their own and were at this time making a strong bid for the rights of The world is yours. They eventually became the firm of Reynal and Hitchcock, and were the United States publishers of Lyttleton's two last novels, Promenade (1938) and Grand parade (1943).

Unfortunately the status of yet another of the late-inserted clauses in her original Pageant contract, pertaining to options on her next two books, was unclear, and in the end she agreed to stay with Doubleday-Century, this time reserving all rights other than the American and Canadian markets. However, in an astute bargaining move prior to signing the new contract, she also got Doubleday-Century to agree to allow Allen & Unwin to pay her overseas Pageant royalties in future direct through Doubleday-Century's London office. This enabled her to avoid the 8 per cent Aliens' tax on her non-American earnings, and to be able to claim a rebate of the 25 per cent British tax on her Australian and New Zealand earnings, and she also persuaded the company to forego all future claim on Australian royalties for Pageant.

She managed to preserve some of her Pageant royalties through this agreement, but by then she had lost most of them, since advance payments as well as royalties for the initial months of sales had already been transmitted to the New York office. Overall, she probably lost about a third of the actual royalty income the book earned — approximately £850 [NZ$50,000] — through being unable to make independent arrangements. It might be said that she nevertheless still did well, but not when it is remembered that Lyttleton's economic survival depended on her income as a professional writer, and that she had published very little for eight years.

Jones, her New York agent, was still complicating her life in mid-1933. The text of The world is yours which appeared in Good housekeeping was a thoroughly mangled version, set up from a typescript copy of the original manuscript made in his New York office, which he insisted in letters to her was a perfect copy. She also learnt later that several other American publishers had approached him to bid for the publication rights of The world is yours, but he had refused to negotiate, insisting that Lyttleton was committed under the Pageant contract to Doubleday-Century. She was most apprehensive to learn that he had persuaded one of page 102 her American friends to lend him copies of all of her earlier books, fearing that he would attempt to arrange deals for their republication without consulting her. It was some time before her friend was able to report that he had managed to get them all back.

In the metaphorical melodrama invoked at the beginning of this essay, it is possible to read Jones as a kind of blundering comic fool or buffoon, innocent of deviousness and unaware of the havoc his many efforts to 'do his best' invariably created. He was given to using the phrase 'lapsis [sic] scribendi' (a mere drafting error, which 'of course would have been corrected in the official contract'),29 when Lyttleton confronted him with some of the potentially more disastrous effects of provisions he had written into the proposed Century contract for The world is yours, as pointed out to her by the British Society of Authors. It is also possible to see him as a consummate behind-the-scenes schemer, a new type of agent thrown up by the corporate jungle that the American publishing industry had become in the 1930s, aiming to survive by always being two or three steps ahead of everyone else. If so, he met his match in Edith Lyttleton, who insisted on calling his bluff. In her view he was simply a pawn in the hands of American publishers, who manipulated him to do their work of getting as much out of the author as possible. When she tried to sack him as her agent a year later, he refused to answer her letters of dismissal; eventually she got Doubleday-Century to hand-deliver a letter of dismissal, wait while he signed an acknowledgement of receipt, and then send the signed acknowledgement back to her. She always, thereafter, kept the receipt in a safe place.

The Battle of Britain

Edith Lyttleton's adventures with the international publishing industry in the 1930s were by no means over. In fact her stiffest battle was yet to come, and it was to be with the formidable Stanley Unwin, now president of the BPA. This complication in the story corresponds to that moment in melodrama when the kindly mentor, listening to the heroine pour out her troubles to him in his study, suddenly pulls a gun out of the pocket of his morning jacket, and points it at her. . . .

Having satisfactorily resolved her contract on The world is yours with Doubleday-Century, Lyttleton now turned to the disposal of page 103 her rights in England and in Australia and New Zealand. She was exceptionally pleased with the success of the Endeavour Press edition of Pageant — both the sales it was achieving in Australia and New Zealand, and the quality of its production. Moreover Stephensen, who had not yet left the Endeavour Press, was anxious to come to an agreement with her on The world is yours, and offering the same excellent terms. On the other hand she was not especially pleased with the British sales of the Allen & Unwin edition of Pageant, believed it had been very poorly promoted, and thought that the quality of its production was quite inferior to the Century and Endeavour Press editions. She decided to contract separately with the Endeavour Press, thereby avoiding the sub-contract arrangement on Pageant which had given Allen & Unwin half her Australasian royalties. She advised Audrey Heath, her new London agent chosen on the recommendation of the British Society of Authors, to see whether Allen & Unwin would offer improved terms on the British rights only for The world is yours, and agree to improve the quality of production and promotional arrangements. If they did not want the book or would not offer satisfactory terms the manuscript was to be tried with other British publishers, perhaps Heinemann or Macmillan. Stanley Unwin's response to Audrey Heath when she approached him seems to have been, to put it mildly, uncompromising, though its gist emerged only during several months of toing-and-froing between the parties, and some of the arguments were advanced not by Unwin himself but by his business manager at Allen & Unwin's, Mr Skinner, the man whom Lyttleton later saw as a suitable candidate for Dickens's 'invisible & implacable Jorkins'. The response went as follows: Edith Lyttleton was not at liberty to try other publishers in England {or Australia, for that matter) on her own account; Allen & Unwin wanted the book themselves, and under the terms of their contract with the Century for Pageant, they had full, exclusive rights to dispose of her next two books as they wished in Britain, on the Continent, and throughout the Empire; furthermore, Unwin was not in the least disposed, this time, to allow her to come to a separate arrangement with any Australian or New Zealand publisher; his agreement to do so in the case of Pageant had been a favour to her, because he had felt some sympathy with the predicament the Americans had put her in, and she ought now to feel under some personal obligation to him; when he allowed the Endeavour Press to publish page 104 Pageant he had not realised how successful it would be; moreover the Endeavour Press had deliberately locked the Allen & Unwin edition out of the New Zealand market, by undercutting his price of 7s 6d and selling their edition at 6s 6d; what was more, the Sydney Bulletin, the Fellowship of Australian Writers, and others in Australia were even now openly boasting that the established British-controlled publishing system was about to collapse; he was determined to 'smash' the Endeavour Press, and intended to use The world is yours to do so; finally, Miss Heath should warn Miss Lyttleton that if she persisted in making an independent arrangement with any Australasian publisher, such was the strength of feeling in the British publishing industry that she would be permanently 'blacklisted' by British publishers and unable ever to publish a book in Great Britain again.30

Audrey Heath must have wondered quite what she had taken on. 'I am not at all inclined to submit' to such rulings, Lyttleton wrote to her: 'Please don't be like my Amer. agent and, after agreeing with me, let yourself be talked over by the publisher!'31' She was astonished to learn of the actions of the Century in selling options on her two next books without her knowledge or consent, and of Allen & Unwin in buying them, and regarded the transaction — mistakenly — as illegal. She also wrote a tactfully phrased letter to the British Society of Authors, saying that 'Mr Unwin has made me feel, perhaps unintentionally, that I am under a great obligation to him .... and I would like to know if you consider the half-proceeds which he is taking [from the Endeavour Press, for Pageant] will fully compensate him for his losses.'32 The Society replied equally tactfully, commenting that it was possible that both parties would 'make more' than otherwise: 'Prima facie, however . . . you have [no] reason to feel under any particular obligation to Mr Unwin for what he has done since it would seem to have been as much in his own interests as yours.'33

Lyttleton also took steps to prepare the ground for a stand on the reservation of Australasian rights, writing to the British Society of Authors again to ask 'what steps, if any' it would take 'to recognize the Endeavour Press [and similar houses] as a separate entity': 'I do feel that it is quite time Australia had its own self-contained publications and distribution. Booksellers out there are very much afraid to order many copies of any book and try to put people off with what they have in hand.'34 The Society's reply was unequivocal:

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If the new Australian publishing house which the Sydney Bulletin is backing proposes to operate on a fairly large scale and is prepared to offer fair and reasonable terms to authors, the Society will certainly recommend its members, in suitable cases, to withhold their Australasian rights when entering into contracts with English and American publishers.35

Lyttleton then got Heath to draft up and send a contract to Allen & Unwin, embodying a range of protective provisions, including reservation of the Australasian rights on The world is yours. Allen & Unwin promptly returned it and enclosed their own standard contract. This required Lyttleton to grant to the publishers 'the sole right to publish the work . . . throughout the world excluding America and Canada', as well as 'the sole right to sell or assign the . . . Dominion, Colonial, Continental, translation, serial, broadcasting and anthology rights'. Unwin added, perhaps anticipating some kind of compromise, that the firm was 'most anxious to retain New Zealand', and that he wished to discuss this with Miss Lyttleton herself. Heath advised Lyttleton: 'Unless it would definitely conflict with your arrangement with your Australian publisher, I should myself feel disposed to allow Mr Unwin to have the New Zealand territory'.36

Lyttleton replied promptly and sharply, 'Mr Unwin evidently wants the Dominions as a place to dump the copies he can't sell here, but I don't see why I should spoil my N.Z. sales on that account',37 and produced a lively account of the difficulties of purchasing the Allen & Unwin edition of Pageant in New Zealand during the period when the company had exclusive access to the market:

He had a month or six weeks clear field in both Aus. and N.Z. before the Australian ed. appeared . .. [and] I can quote you letters from my friends in the various N.Z. centres.

Christchurch. Only six copies for sale in the largest bookseller's; those sold at once and no suggestion of getting more. The bookseller said he would try and procure a copy from another town. Dunedin. None to be had.

Wellington, (the capital.) A friend wrote an amusing letter about the competition she had with her husband as to which could find a copy. After some weeks she discovered one 'in a tiny shop down a side-street' and rushed in and carried it home in triumph. She adds: 'Now page 106 the Australian ed. is out, and of course that is everywhere and everyone is now talking about Pageant.'

Lyttleton added,

[I]f [Mr Unwin] would authorize his [N.Z.] agent to submit me the number of N.Z. sales I could contrast with those of The Endeavour Press. If Mr Unwin's sales far outnumber those of the Aus. ed. I will give him all N.Z. If they do not I will leave it equal rights. Don't you think that is a fair proposition?38

Heath insisted that she was 'not in the least disposed to take sides with the publisher',39 and after further consultation with Unwin conveyed to Edith Lyttleton that he was now willing to waive all points (such as reserving serial and translation rights, and making clear that an option on her next novel would be subject to a fresh agreement and require 'mutual agreement' to proceed) except 'this disputed point of New Zealand.' Nevertheless she also represented to Lyttleton what were clearly arguments advanced to her by Unwin — that 'there might be some truth in his argument that the New Zealand trade is not altogether pleased at the Australian activity . . . [because of] the keen competition . . . between the two [countries]', and that Australian publishers were being 'unwise in their desire to secure a sort of monopoly of publishing and exclude books coming over from this side' and had 'greatly prejudiced the English publisher who might otherwise have been willing to give in with a more or less good grace in certain cases'.40

Lyttleton had three final points to make. First, that it was quite untrue that New Zealand booksellers were hostile to being supplied from Australia — the contrary was the case. Second, that she had recently been cabled by the Endeavour Press that the price of their edition of Pageant was actually included in their contract with Allen & Unwin, so Unwin's argument that the Australian firm had acted deviously in undercutting the price of his edition was also quite untrue. And third: 'Now I know that Mr Unwin knew exactly what he was up against before he gave the concession I do not see what right he has to ask me to help smash them [the Endeavour Press] because they made use of it.'41

These disputations took place over two months, August-September 1933, and remained unresolved when Lyttleton sailed for New Zealand from London at the end of September. Her final page 107
A page from the Sydney Bulletin, 26 May 1938, in which Promenade was serialised, showing the curious Māori designs of the lettering of the title, the author's name, and the chapter headings.

A page from the Sydney Bulletin, 26 May 1938, in which Promenade was serialised, showing the curious Māori designs of the lettering of the title, the author's name, and the chapter headings.

instructions to Heath were uncompromising: she was to insist on access to the New Zealand market for the Endeavour Press edition, and if Unwin still refused, she was to withdraw the book from his firm and seek to place it elsewhere. If the Pageant contract did not allow that, Heath was to withdraw the book from the British market altogether. If Unwin's threat that she would be blacklisted were true, the novel would not find a publisher in England in any case. To an Australian friend she wrote at this time: 'I don't yet know what will happen except that I don't mean to let Australia down. [This] is another case where a woman gets the worst of it. They wouldn't have dared take that tone with a man.'42

A month later, however, shortly before she was due to stop off in Sydney, Unwin capitulated. Lyttleton received a cable from Heath informing her that he had agreed to the exclusion of Australia from the contract and to New Zealand's becoming an open market for both editions, one month after the publication of the Allen & Unwin edition in February the following year. The British Society of Authors had monitored the agreement, approved it, and advised her to make sure that these provisions were also written into her contract with the Endeavour Press.

Why did Unwin back down? There were likely to have been a number of reasons. First of all, on the English market alone there page 108 were sound financial reasons for wanting to publish the book. Even as late as August, in the middle of their dispute, Pageant was still best-selling in the United States. Lyttleton was thus in a much stronger bargaining position than other Australian writers who had found it very difficult to achieve British publication of books first published in Australia. Marjorie Barnard, for example, commented in 1935 to Vance Palmer, who had had this experience, 'Having had Australian publication first makes it much more difficult. I know that many publishers won't look at a book without the colonial rights.'43 Unwin was also particularly interested in retaining Lyttleton's goodwill for the projected New Zealand novel, Promenade. Furthermore he was astute enough to be likely to predict that when she reached Sydney, and later New Zealand, there would be very considerable publicity about her. No other New Zealand or Australian author had ever had a novel chosen as Book-of-the-Month by the American Literary Guild, and the Century was claiming that it was the best book the company had published for twenty years.

There was indeed a great deal of publicity; her two weeks in Sydney (and afterwards in Auckland) at the end of 1933 were a constant round of speaking engagements, newspaper and radio interviews, and receptions in her honour. The last thing either Unwin or the British publishing industry needed was the negative publicity of a cause celebre — headlines proclaiming that the author of Pageant had been locked out of the British market, or blacklisted — especially when feelings were running high in Australia about the birth of a new era of independent Australian publishing. He was also aware that the British Society of Authors was closely monitoring the situation. His strategy might best be seen as one of containment, a tactical withdrawal — aimed at avoiding a spread of infection.

The story does not quite end at this point. As Lyttleton had herself predicted, The world is yours was a much slighter novel than Pageant, did not have an Australasian setting, and did not do nearly so well. Its overall sales are likely to have been of the order of 12,000 copies, approximately 8000 of these in the United States. But she did receive all her royalty income, and Audrey Heath certainly earned her commission on the non-American sales. Whether Jones also took his 10 per cent on these is unknown. Back in New Zealand in 1934 she contracted with Stephensen, now in charge of his own publishing company, to reprint the first page 109 book she ever published, in 1904, a collection of New Zealand short stories entitled Sons o' men. The volume was the first in what was intended to become a series of reprints of earlier Australian and New Zealand books under the title of the Southern Classic Library. Lyttleton gave him the rights more to support the cause than because she wanted the book republished: 'It's a brave idea of yours . . . and I am proud that I can start it.'44 Stephensen's new venture in fact collapsed within a year, though not before he had also published one of Australia's finest novels, Xavier Herbert's Capricornia.

Stanley Unwin might have been down — having lost his skirmish with Lyttleton over The world is yours — but he was certainly not out. He would no doubt have been pleased to learn that the Endeavour Press itself collapsed in 1935, though it had a brave record of publication during its three-year life. Despite the efforts of many, the publishing of Australia's best fiction writers in the 1930s and for much of the 1940s continued to be sporadic and uncertain. Angus & Robertson remained, but it had always survived mainly on popular non-fiction books (one of its biggest sellers was The life and works of Henry Ford), and where it did publish fiction these were mainly reprints of popular overseas authors (L. M. Montgomery's 'Anne' books were also amongst its biggest sellers) and light local fiction like Steele Rudd's 'Dad and Dave' stories. By the mid-1930s a litany of authors rejected by Angus & Robertson was often recited: Henry Handel Richardson, Christina Stead, Xavier Herbert, Katherine Susannah Prichard, Miles Franklin, Norman Lindsay, Leonard Mann, Barnard Eldershaw .... The list, of Australia's best fiction writers, seemed endless.

In the later 1930s Angus & Robertson made an effort to improve the quality of its local list, and Lyttleton became embroiled yet again — this time over her New Zealand novel, Promenade, which after much effort she completed in 1937. In 1935 she had contracted the American edition to Reynal and Hitchcock (the ex-Century personnel who had set up on their own, and bid unsuccessfully for The world is yours two years before). They were pleased with the manuscript, when it eventually arrived, and anticipated a big success for it.

The problems arose, again, with Allen & Unwin — whose director, Stanley Unwin was now also a director of the firm of John Lane at the Bodley Head — and the trigger, again, was the prospect of a second lucrative Pageant by an author who insisted page 110 as before that she wanted to make a separate arrangement for Australasian publication, this time with the firm of Angus & Robertson. The issue of New Zealand rights, for a novel set in New Zealand, with a potentially significant readership there, was of even greater moment than with the previous two books.

Little of the business correspondence between the principals about Promenade has survived. Lyttleton evidently took it all with her for on-going reference when she left New Zealand — for what was to be the last time — in July 1938, and it was subsequently lost or destroyed. Nevertheless, something of the nature of the dispute can be pieced together from two or three of her letters to friends at the time. The sense of déjà vu, of an ongoing re-enactment of a familiar triangular conflict involving author, agent, and publisher, is inescapable — except that in this instance Jones's derelictions are replaced by Audrey Heath's, and the account presented here is a reading of Edith Lyttleton's point of view, without the independent verifications available for earlier parts of the story.

It appears that through her agent's 'stupidity — or perfidy', Unwin had been given an option on Promenade without the author's knowledge, 'and he wants to exercise it':

I do not now give Australian rights, & as I didn't give them for the book whose contract contained the option [i.e. The world is yours] I am sure I cannot be forced to. He threatened to have me put on the Black List of all Eng. publishers if I didn't give him Aus. rights last time. I said: Do it. So he climbed down & contented himself with Eng. rights only. Now he threatens to take the matter to court if I refuse them, & has apparently got my agent well & truly scared .... She has behaved worse than any former agent. Cabled & air-mailed me that Mr Unwin wants exclusive Eng. & N.Z. rights; that a court would certainly uphold him & I must cable my consent at once! Ordering me to sign a blank cheque, for she has never mentioned the terms of the contract. . . .45

Edith Lyttleton went on to say in this letter that she had 'cabled and air-mailed back' that 'I utterly refuse to give Unwin Aus. or N.Z. rights on any terms whatever, so he can go to law if he likes — which of course he won't. No court could hold it legal to force me to accept a contract of which I did not know a single clause.' Furthermore, since Heath had refused to show the manuscript to other British publishers (although 'an option only means that a page 111
Advertisement for the Bodley Head edition of Promenade from the Bookseller, 30 June 1938.

Advertisement for the Bodley Head edition of Promenade from the Bookseller, 30 June 1938.

publisher can exercise it if no other publisher offers better terms'), or to Angus & Robertson's agent in London, she had herself made enquiries directly to Angus & Robertson in Sydney:

It moved them to the extent of a long cable offering £94 advance royalty, 10% on the first 2,500 copies, 12 1/2% up to 5,000 & 15% after. That works out at 9d, 11d & 1/2d . . . infinitely better than their first offer of 7d flat rate (and of the highest Eng. terms of Colonial eds — 3 1/2d). Being their first offer it is, of course, their lowest. I expect to get the 10% knocked off... . Anyway, I've broken the Aus. flat rate & made [Angus & Robertson] offer more (I'll bet) than they have ever done before.46

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Again Unwin was forced to back down on New Zealand rights, though Lyttleton remained most annoyed that her agent continued to ignore her instructions about the English edition: '[A]s my English agent ignores all my orders to submit the M.S. of [Promenade ] to other publishers I'm afraid Allen & Unwin will get it, for I don't know if I can refuse to sign the contract if no one else bids higher. Unwin must be making it well worth her while . . .'47 In the event Unwin gave her the option of using either his Allen & Unwin imprint or his Bodley Head imprint, and she chose the Bodley Head. In the event, also, Promenade did very well, if not as well as Pageant. In the United States its sales in its first two months were 13,000 copies; in England, in its first two months, more than 3000 copies; and in Australia and New Zealand — where it was serialised in the Sydney Bulletin before publication in August 1938 — the initial print run, of 5000 copies, had sold out before Christmas. It also sold steadily over the next year or so, went into a German translation, and was reprinted in both the United States and England during the Second World War. Its overall sales are likely to have exceeded 30,000 copies.

The narrative of Edith Lyttleton's experiences with these three books is instructive because of the ways in which it illuminates key developments in the international and local publishing industries in the 1930s, and their intersections: the effects of the corpor-atisation of the American publishing industry, the loosening of British monopoly control of the publishing system throughout the Empire, and the beginnings of active movements towards publishing independence in former colonies, like Australia and New Zealand. Such developments did not suddenly happen, of course — they had been occurring, fitfully and unevenly, over several decades — nor did they achieve any decisive conclusion by the end of the decade. But it is possible to speculate that the effect of world-wide economic depression was to accelerate and concentrate the tendencies: forcing smaller American publishers to the wall, for example, as well as influencing mergers of some of the biggest, like the Century and Doubleday. In Australia, in a quite different way, the Depression produced a negative international exchange rate which had the effect of encouraging local publishing initiatives, since it increased the price of British books on the Australasian market from 6s to 7s 6d. This was an important factor, for example, in the Sydney Bulletin's decision to set up the Endeavour Press, and in P. R. Stephensen's effort to set up on his own.

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The new developments of the 1930s also produced new kinds of tension between the contending industries — American, British and Australasian — as well as within each of them: a change in the dynamic of their external and internal relationships. The corp-oratisation of the American publishing industry posed a threat to the British industry, and the potential 'opening up' of the cosy British monopoly of the long-established Empire market raised the spectre that control of it might shift decisively to the United States, with the emergence of aggressive global marketing strategies operating from a much stronger capital base. Deprived of the profits provided by its colonial operations, the British industry faced the prospect of a gradually deteriorating capital base increasingly vulnerable to an invasion into its own heartland by the American industry. Already the Canadian market was largely controlled by the United States, and for all three of her books Edith Lyttleton received only half her American royalty rate from her American publishers on sales in Canada. Macmillan's in Canada wished to bid for an option on Promenade , and Lyttleton received a curt query from the Century ('[T]hey say you are coming to them on a direct contract for the Canadian market. Is this statement correct?'),48 to which she replied that she was not going to pursue the option, although 'it is possible that I wrote . . . sympathizing with Canada's desire to stand on her own feet.'49 At this time she was probably too exhausted by her battle with Allen & Unwin over Australasia to take on the Century over Canada.

In effect, the former colonies thus became a terrain on which a larger power struggle between competing giants was played out, and this is part of the explanation for the stubbornness with which Unwin resisted making any 'concessions' on the New Zealand market. In purely financial terms the New Zealand market could hardly have mattered much to the British publishing industry: its population was small, and it was over the other side of the world. It did matter, deeply, however as part of an imperial network that was beginning to show signs of instability, especially in Australia. Furthermore, if New Zealand was a tiny market in British terms, it was a very significant and accessible market for Australian publishing enterprise. British resistance to making New Zealand concessions — as Audrey Heath put it, Mr Unwin's standing firm on 'this disputed point of New Zealand' — also had the strategic purpose of weakening the market base of the fledgling Australian industry, making it more vulnerable.

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The new developments also changed the 'internal' relationships between publishers, agents and authors, which varied in each country. One of the dynamics of American corporatisation was to push royalty rates down — on the grounds (which Lyttle-ton accepted in her dealings with American publishers) that a much greater investment in advertising and promotion would produce many more sales, and thus more than compensate for higher royalties on smaller sales. The Century claimed to Edith Lyttleton, in justification of the low advance of $250 on 10 per cent royalties for Pageant, that they had invested $4,000 — a huge amount then — in advance publicity of the book. In earlier years she had been accustomed to receive from British publishers initial royalties as high as 20 per cent, rising to 25 per cent, and even throughout the 1930s her British royalties remained much higher than the American ones — on Promenade, at the end of the decade, beginning at 15 per cent and rising to 20 per cent, though on export sales the return was a mere 5 per cent.

In Australia and New Zealand the situation was different again, since under the imperial system of control authors' incomes from local sales were already artificially depressed, to a level far below even the lower rates occurring in the United States. Furthermore overseas distribution arrangements of British editions were often perfunctory, and authors' royalties on 'export sales' were based not on the retail price in the export market but on the wholesale price, which was often itself set lower than that on the British market. The 4 1/2d flat rate royalty which Lyttleton received from export sales of the British edition of Promenade was an example of this system, and represented one-third of the royalty she received on British sales. 'This was a hangover', Dennis McEldowney has commented, 'from the "colonial edition", when an overrun from the main edition was offered to colonial booksellers at reduced rates.'50 Edith Lyttleton referred to it — in an angry letter quoted earlier — as dumping.51

The system functioned to thwart any local initiatives: it meant that local publishers could not compete with the low prices; it perpetuated the notion, for readers, that local writing was cheap and second-rate; and it ensured that, for New Zealand and Australian novelists, the only access to local readers was through British publication, and that the possibility of economic survival rested on British rather than local sales.

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It is not surprising, also, in the light of the above, that few in Australia and New Zealand — including Lyttleton — ever stopped to think quite what 'freedom' and 'independence' from British control might mean, in relation to the larger international economic forces emerging in the publishing industry, especially from the United States. Canada might have offered at least some food for thought. In the short term, however, free market forces clearly meant, as Lyttleton exemplifies, the possibility of larger incomes for authors from sales in their local markets, and greater access to those markets through better local distribution arrangements. But even those local publishers and authors who saw that it was a 'freedom' to begin to compete in the international market, were unaware of the extent to which that market was changing, developing new kinds of mechanisms of competition and control. But that is another story, or many stories, ongoing into the present.

After Promenade

Edith Lyttleton wrote only one more novel, a fourth 'dominion-historical' family saga set in Nova Scotia, Canada, entitled Grand parade. She wrote it in England during the war, under conditions of great hardship, since she was too ill to travel back to New Zealand, and the completion of it triggered a physical collapse from which she never recovered. Reynal and Hitchcock published it in the United States in October 1943, with unauthorised editorial revisions which shocked and angered her; her British agent sent the manuscript, again, to Unwin and Allen Lane at the Bodley Head. To her sister-in-law she wrote, from a convalescent hospital in London: 'Lane (having read it) offers twice the Advance Royalty I got last time; some advance on ordinary royalties, & wants the Aus. & N.Z. rights .... which I am letting him have .... I feel in such a jumble that I simply say Blast the whole thing, & let it go.'52 Because of the paper shortage English publication was delayed until late in 1944. Edith Lyttleton never lived to find out from her New Zealand friends how many copies were in Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington bookshops. She died in March 1945.

1 Edith Lyttleton, letter to Paul Wallace, 25 May 1933 (Paul Wallace Papers, Pattee Library, Pennsylvania State University Libraries; hereafter cited as Wallace Papers, PSUL).

2 Ibid., 10 July 1933 (Wallace Papers, PSUL).

3 Ibid., 11 August 1933 (Wallace Papers, PSUL).

4 Lyttleton, letter to Stanley Unwin, 23 July 1933 (Private Papers).

5 Lyttleton, Address to the English-Speaking Union, Sydney. Typescript, n.d. [1936?] (Private Papers). In later versions of this address Edith Lyttleton removed the specific reference to a single publisher, referring to all publishers as 'Barabbas'.

6 Lyttleton, letter to Ruth Murray-Prior, 15 June 1933 (Colin Roderick Papers, MS 1578, National Library of Australia, Canberra; hereafter cited as Roderick Papers, NLA).

7 Lyttleton, letter to Wallace, 3 January 1938 (Wallace Papers, PSUL).

8 Lyttleton, Address to the English-Speaking Union.

9 Lyttleton, Address to the Penwomen's Literary Club, Sydney. Typescript, n.d. [1937?] (Private Papers).

10 Lyttleton, letter to Audrey Heath [A. M. Heath & Co., Literary Agents], 7 September 1933 (Private Papers).

11 See, especially: P. R. Stephensen, The foundations of culture in Australia (New South Wales: W. J. Miles, 1936); Ian Reid, 'Sheep without a fold: publishing and fiction-writing in the 'thirties', and 'A splendid bubble: publishing and fiction-writing in the 'thirties', Meanjin , 33 (1974), 163-9 and 266-71; Craig Munro, 'P. R. Stephensen and the Australian mercury ,' and Ian Reid, 'Publishing, fiction-writers and periodicals in the 1930s', both in Cross currents: Magazines and newspapers in Australian literature , ed. by Bruce Bennett (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1981), pp.103-14 and 115-22; Richard Nile and David Walker, 'Marketing the literary imagination: Production of Australian literature, 1915-1965', in The Penguin new literary history of Australia , ed. by Laurie Hergenhan (Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin, 1988), pp.284-302; and Craig Munro, Wild man of letters: The story of P. R. Stephensen (Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 1984).

12 When Stephensen informed Lyttleton in 1935 of the financial collapse of his third highly speculative publishing venture in as many years, cursing booksellers but 'still seeing the future as glorious & wonderful', she commented acidly to a friend, 'I wonder if his wife does.' Lyttleton, letter to Murray-Prior, 11 June 1935 (Roderick Papers, NLA).

13 Lyttleton, Address to the Penwomen's Literary Club.

14 At a number of points in the text, marked by square brackets, monetary figures have been converted into 1998 New Zealand dollars in order to provide an approximate indication of the size of the sums involved, which were in fact very substantial. The conversions are based on an inflation rate, roughly, of 3,000 per cent since the 1930s (information provided by Statistics New Zealand) and on average exchange rates for the period gleaned from Lyttleton's Royalty Statements. As a rough guide, in die 1930s NZ£1 was equivalent to USS3.50 (and converts to NZ$60 in 1998).

15 Lyttleton, letter to Unwin, 29 July 1933 (Private Papers).

16 Cutrice Hitchcock, letter to Lyttleton, 8 August 1932 (Private Papers).

17 Miles Franklin, letter to Lyttleton, 19 April 1933 (Private Papers).

18 Francis Arthur Jones, letter to Lyttleton, 24 December 1932 (Private Papers).

19 D. Kilham Roberts, letter to Lyttleton, 9 January 1933 (Private Papers). Kilham Roberts was Secretary, Incorporated Society of Authors, Playwrights & Composers.

20 Lyttleton, letter to Jones, 6 January 1933 (Private Papers).

21 Kilham Roberts, letter to Lyttleton, 10 February 1933 (Private Papers).

23 Unwin, letter to Lyttleton, 27 July 1933 (Private Papers).

24 Rex Hunter, 'The book of the day', New York Sun, 7 February 1933.

25 Lyttleton, letter to Murray-Prior, 28 February 1934 (Roderick Papers, NLA). The source of Jane Mander's information was Norman Lindsay, who was involved in the Endeavour Press initiative.

26 P. R. Stephensen, 'Book publishing in Australia', Stephensen's circular, no.2 (March 1934), 1.

27 Lyttleton, letter to Unwin, 25 July 1933 (Private Papers).

28 Lyttleton, letter to Jones, 16 June 1933 (Private Papers).

29 Jones, letter to Lyttleton, 1 July 1933 (Private Papers).

30 The arguments presented in summary form in this paragraph are extracted from numerous letters between Lyttleton, her agent Audrey Heath, the British Society of Authors, and Stanley Unwin, between June and September 1933. The terms 'smash' and 'blacklisted' represent Lyttleton's gloss on the debate, in a letter to Ruth Murray-Prior, 13 September 1933 (Roderick Papers, NLA), and elsewhere.

31 Lyttleton, letters to Heath, 12 August 1933 and 3 September 1933 (Private Papers).

32 Lyttleton, letter to Kilham Roberts, June [n.d.] 1933 (Private Papers).

33 Kilham Roberts, letter to Lyttleton, 12 June 1933 (Private Papers).

34 Lyttleton, letter to Kilham Roberts, 6 June 1933 (Private Papers).

35 Kilham Roberts, letter to Lyttleton, 8 June 1933 (Private Papers).

36 Heath, letter to Lyttleton, 2 September 1933 (Private Papers).

37 Lyttleton, letter to Heath, 3 September 1933 (Private Papers).

38 Ibid.

39 Heath, letter to Lyttleton, 5 September 1933 (Private Papers).

40 Ibid.

41 Lyttleton, letter to Heath, 7 September 1933 (Private Papers).

42 Lyttleton, letter to Murray-Prior, 13 September 1933 (Roderick Papers, NLA).

43 See Reid, 'Publishing, fiction-writers and periodicals in the 1930s', in Cross currents p.117.

44 Lyttleton, letter to P. R. Stephensen, 7 February 1934 (Private Papers).

45 Lyttleton, letter to Murray-Prior, 8 January 1938 (Roderick Papers, NLA).

46 Ibid.

47 Ibid., 1 March 1938 (Roderick Papers, NLA).

48 Rutger Bleecker Jewett, letter to Lyttleton, 29 December 1933 (Private Papers). Jewett was an editor with the Doubleday Appleton-Century Co.

49 Lyttleton, letter to Rutger Bleecker Jewett, 22 January 1934 (Private Papers).

50 Dennis McEldowney, 'Publishing, patronage, literary magazines', The Oxford history of New Zealand literature in English , 2nd ed., ed by Terry Sturm (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp.631-94 (p.65 2).

51 Lyttleton, letter to Heath, 3 September 1933 (Private Papers).

52 Lyttleton, letter to Nell Lyttleton, 23 July 1943 (Private Papers).