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Frederick Warne

(1825—1901) bookseller and publisher


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(1825–1901), British bookseller and publisher. Warne was born, lived, worked, and died in London. He was privately educated. At age fourteen he joined his elder brother William in the bookselling and publishing firm established by their brother-in-law, George Routledge, becoming a partner in 1851 in the renamed Routledge and Company (from 1858, Routledge, Warne, and Routledge). In 1852 he bought for Routledge the rights to a British edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin. In 1865 the company was amicably divided into two houses: George Routledge and Sons, and Frederick Warne and Company. Warne directed the latter for the next thirty years, then handed it over to his three sons. Warne specialized in wholesome literature that he sold cheap; his family novels included most of the novels for adults and children written by Frances Hodgson Burnett. In the late 1860s Warne pioneered colored picture books for children, notably the series Aunt Louisa's Toy Books. Thereafter he published children's authors and illustrators, including Edward Lear, Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, and Kate Greenaway. Crane, Caldecott, and Greenaway were all protégés of the celebrated printer Edmund Evans. By the 1880s Warne had acquired the British rights to several American family magazines, including Scribners, Century, and St. Nicholas, all of which published serialized works by Burnett, including Little Lord Fauntleroy (in St. Nicholas, 1886). When Warne retired in 1894, the firm continued its championship of high-quality publishing for children. By the time of his death, its list included Andrew Lang. In 1902, the firm took up Beatrix Potter’s privately printed edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and published it in a distinctive small format that has been retained for her books ever since. Evans supervised the three-color halftone printing of Beatrix Potters’s illustrations. In the summer of 1905 Frederick's youngest son, Norman, became engaged to Potter, but he died only a month later.

From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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