John Maxwell’s Copyright Disputes:
Manufacturing Cheap Fiction in the Welcome Guest and the Shilling Volume Library
In his early twenties, John Maxwell entered the London publishing scene as a scrappy and ambitious Irish immigrant with a strong desire to make a name for himself. What Maxwell lacked in gentility he made up for with his willingness to take risks and flaunt convention. Within a decade he had become one of the leading magazine entrepreneurs of his age. Between 1860 and 1862, a period in which he was frantically launching new periodicals and solidifying his partnership with Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Maxwell regularly appeared in the Court of Chancery as a party to copyright infringement lawsuits, some of which stemmed from his attempts to republish works by contributors to his magazine the Welcome Guest without seeking explicit authorial permission. This essay investigates what these disputes tell us about conceptions of the often vague laws pertaining to reprinting in the periodical press and examines how the outcomes of these cases shaped the development of Maxwell’s publishing business as well as his bourgeoning relationship with Braddon.
copyright law; periodical publishing; reprinting; John Maxwell; Mary Elizabeth Braddon; penny press; the Welcome Guest
Date of Acceptance: 27 June 2022
Date of Publication: 4 July 2022
Double Blind Peer Reviewed
Phegley, Jennifer. 2022. “John Maxwell’s Copyright Disputes: Manufacturing Cheap Fiction in the Welcome Guest and the Shilling Volume Library.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 4.1: 21-40. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online) DOI: https://doi.org/10.46911/MQTR7637