John Camden Hotten

(1832—1873) publisher and writer

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After travelling in America for six years, Hotten set up shop in Piccadilly and quickly established an impressively varied list, including antiquarian, biographical, and pornographic works, as well as general literature. Hotten’s own writings, all sold by his firm, included A Dictionary of Modern Slang (1859) and Abyssinia and its People (1867). In the literary field, Hotten carried controversial foreign authors such as Balzac, Baudelaire, and Whitman, and reprinted work by the radical romantic poets, including Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1867). Hotten also published verse by Swinburne, beginning with Poems and Ballads (1866) after the work was dropped by E. Moxon. Hotten’s hasty and erratic temperament alienated many of his authors, including Swinburne, who, writing to Wise (27 April 1888), looked back on him as ‘decidedly what Dr. Johnson would have called a “shady lot”’. On Hotten’s death the business was sold for £25,000 to his chief clerk, who continued under the imprint of Chatto & Windus.

From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Bibliography.

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