Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Colonial Edition of Dracula

On the topic of Dracula and colonial editions, a stir was created a few years ago when Robert Eighteen-Bisang published details of an unrecorded colonial edition of Dracula that had turned up in Australia and sold on ebay. The fact that it remained unrecorded for so long probably has more to do with the lack of serious bibliographical attention given to colonial editions than the actual rarity of the book. Here is a contemporary notice of the Hutchinson colonial edition of Dracula from the Adelaide Advertiser, Saturday 22 January 1898, page 8:

Hutchinson & Co's Publications
The latest additions to Messrs. Hutchinson's Colonial Library include stories grave and gay, sensational and domestic. Pre-eminently striking is Bram Stoker's "Dracula," notwithstanding that it is in great part a reversion to old-fashioned methods. Its plot is unfolded by letters and diaries in regular painstaking fashion, after the manner of Wilkie Collins. As for the plot itself, it is ghastly beyond belief. Not even Sheridan Lefanu in his wildest moments ever conceived anything to equal it for haunting horror. It is a story of human vampires and demoniacal possession, of midnight apparitions and life-in-death. The book must be carefully kept out of the way of anyone with weak nerves; but for those who can stand it there is a fearful joy in the gradual making clear of the tremendous mysteries involved. The art of the author is of quality high enough celare artem. There is no attempt at fine writing, and the simple details almost bring conviction. If they quite brought it, farewell to the reader's peace of mind!