Victorian Popular Fictions 3.2 1 Cohen

Unintended Authors:

Piracy, Plagiarism and Property

in Victorian Popular Culture

Monica Cohen

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 The introduction to this special issue of the Victorian Popular Fictions Journal, “Unintended Authors,” argues that Victorian popular fictions crucially relied on incoherently regulated global artistic markets that made bargain-basement grabbing and reselling comme il faut. The absence of clear and uniform copyright statutes, case law, and trade practices across national, colonial, linguistic, and generic borders surprisingly did not obstruct nineteenth-century authorship; rather these conditions did the work of cultivating an extraordinary proliferation of scrappy innovators creatively reusing antecedents. A cast of rogue publishers, theatrical adaptors, and proto brand managers take centre stage here in an effort to recognize the collaborative, appropriative, and reiterative dimensions of nineteenth-century fictional entertainment.


piracy; plagiarism; popular fictions; copyright; theatre; publishing; translation

Date of Acceptance: 8 December 2021

Date of Publication: 17 December 2021

Double Blind Peer Reviewed

Recommended Citation:

Cohen, Monica. 2021. “Unintended Authors: Piracy, Plagiarism and Property in Victorian Popular Culture” Victorian Popular Fictions, 3.2: 1-20. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online) DOI:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.