I approached the ESTC with the intent of searching for the various editions of Samuel RichardsonŐs Clarissa that he actually published himself. (Richardson, as you may know, was a London printer for many years before actually becoming an author.) I wanted to do this in order to investigate issues of textual authority in Richardson, who, in Clarissa, intervenes in the processes of textual production under many and various guises: as author, publisher, fictional editor, and fictional meta-editor. He was also known to be an obsessive re-reader of his own work and to take a great deal of interest in its reception by the public. If our interest is in the history of textual authority then we have an almost perfect case study: a man who was in a position to publish his own work and who was sufficiently obsessed with what he had written, and the publicŐs responses to it, to alter it for almost every edition. Looking at the ESTC entries for Clarissa, we can very obviously see Richardson adding to, correcting, and otherwise altering the text as it passes through subsequent editions. This, of course, raises questions for the modern editor as to which edition of the text (if any) is more reliable, and also poses the question for the literary historian as to the nature of the relationship between Richardson and his readership--one that seems to have consistently reinscribed itself within the text.
All this aside, though, one thing that struck me while browsing the entries on RichardsonŐs Clarissa was how persistently, in using electronic reference works, the marginal, supplementary, and apparently excessive can become central. The search fin pn richardson, samuel and iw richardson and tw clarissa also brings up a lesser known work by Richardson called Sir Charles Grandison and a publishing controversy that surrounded it in 1753-54. Richardson had sold the Irish rights to the work to George Faulkner but it first appeared in Ireland in this pirated edition:
17) Richardson, Samuel, 1689-1761. [Sir Charles Grandison] The history of Sir Charles Grandison. In a series of letters published from the originals, by the editor of Pamela and Clarissa. In seven volumes. ... [Dublin], London, printed by S. Richardson, and Dublin, re-printed and sold by the booksellers, 1753. [N033217 // 6 locations]The anonymous booksellers referred to here are probably the Dublin trio of Wilson, Exshaw, and Saunders, who had already advertised a forthcoming edition of this work. Richardson was enraged, and accused Faulkner of collusion with the pirates. He published this broadside in the same year:
53) Richardson, Samuel, 1689-1761. The case of Samuel Richardson, of London, printer; with regard to the invasion of his property in The history of Sir Charles Grandison, before publication, by certain booksellers in Dublin. [London, printed by Samuel Richardson?, 1753]. [T020118 // 6 locations]Richardson obviously provoked a response from Faulkner, who, as a respectable Dublin bookseller, had a lot to lose from allegations of collusion with pirates. Another broadside published by Richardson, in which he again attacked Faulkner, was:
52) Richardson, Samuel, 1689-1761. An address to the public, on the treatment which the editor of the History of Sir Charles Grandison has met with from certain booksellers and printers in Dublin. Including observations on Mr. Faulkner's defence of himself, published in his Irish news-paper of Nov. 3. 1753. London, printed [by Samuel Richardson] in the year, 1754. [T020496 // 2 locations]The second edition of the work was sold in Ireland by an R. Main, and carried a copy of RichardsonŐs complaints:
44) Richardson, Samuel, 1689-1761. [Sir Charles Grandison] The history of Sir Charles Grandison. In a series of letters published from the originals, by the editor of Pamela and Clarissa. In six volumes. To the last of which is added, An historical and characteristical index. As also, a brief history, ... of the treatment which the editor has met with ... in Dublin. ... Vol. I. The second edition. London, printed for S. Richardson; and sold by C. Hitch and L. Hawes; by J. and J. Rivington; by Andrew Millar; by R. and J. Dodsley; by J. Leake, at Bath; and by R. Main, in Dublin, 1754 . [T058981 // 13 locations]Richardson was obviously incensed at the audacity of Irish literary pirates and at the loss of profits their ventures caused him. But to return to the line of thought I began with, is it not possible that RichardsonŐs fury is also occasioned by the egotistical streak revealed above, where we see him needing to be fully in control not only of the writing, but also of the printing, dissemination, and modification of his work. The intervention of a literary pirate, of course, would seriously disrupt this creative process. All sorts of theories are possible here, but maybe this is not the place to expound them...!