Frederick Warne & Co. Collection
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Frederick Warne & Co. was founded in 1865 by a bookseller turned publisher who gave his own name to the firm. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Warne's firm built a reputation based upon its list of published children's illustrated books by well-known authors and artists such as Edward Lea, Kate Greenaway, and Walter Crane. Toward the end of the century, Frederick Warne retired and handed the management of the business over to his three sons, Harold, Fruing, and Norman. Warne was among the six publishers to whom Beatrix Potter submitted her first book, the story of a rabbit called Peter. As did the other five, Warne turned the proposal down. People at the company changed their minds, however, when they saw the privately printed edition of the book in 1901. They offered to publish it if Potter redid the illustrations in color. The next year, Warne published The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and by Christmas had sold 20,000 copies. This was the beginning of a forty-year partnership that saw the publication of twenty-two additional Little Books and the development of a flourishing merchandising program, the first of its kind based on a children's book. In 1983, Frederick Warne was acquired by Penguin Books.
The collection contains selected correspondence of Frederick Warne & Co., the London publishers, or of the Warne brothers. Correspondents include authors, poets, and playwrights offering their work for publication, such as Robert Buchanan, George Manville Fenn, Edmund Gosse, Louisa L. Greene, Joseph Hatton, Anthony Hewitson, Mary Howitt, Alexander Ireland, and Lord Rowton. There is an undated letter with pen-and-ink drawings by the Irish composer Paul J. McSwiney, asking for employment in Warne's book illustration or designing department. A letter sent from Windsor Castle by Sir Henry Ponsonby, private secretary to Queen Victoria, dated December 10, 1881, thanks Warne for the copy of the May Blossom which the firm had the kindness to present to her, and a letter from J. F. Daly, secretary of Benjamin Disraeli, sent from 10 Downing Street on May 8, 1878, thanks the company for sending the prime minister a copy of Mr. Clinton's The Peninsular War. Also included is a letter from the Rev. W. S. Gibson to "My Dear Warne" about the preparatory school he is setting up, asking him to print notices advertising for pupils. In addition, there is a letter from Samuel Davey seeking to purchase autographs of literary celebrities.
Folders are organized in alphabetical order by correspondent name.
The material was purchased on August 30, 2000.
Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.
No appraisal information is available.
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.