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Q: Why did you decide to start Udolpho Press?

A: Well, this is a long story. First of all, I have always been a Gothic aficionado ever since my
university days.

As an undergraduate, I pretty soon started looking around for more Gothic novels than the
dozen or so titles of the canon and became painfully aware that the works of minor Gothic
novelists were all out of print and not to be found in any library . Then one day, with a copy
of Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography in my hands I started ordering obscure titles
through interlibrary loan without much hope of success. However, much to my surprise,
I received dozens of Microfiche copies from the Corvey Collection, the world’s most
comprehensive collection of Gothic and Romantic literature. What is even more, the
university staff told me this kind of literature was so very elusive and special that there was
no demand among students and scholars, and they let me have Microfiche copies of 75
Gothic novels for a ludicrously small fee of about $ 4 each.

Then, years later, in early 2004, I found out about Zittaw Press, a small press owned by my
friend Franz Potter, and we have been collaborating ever since. In early 2005, I started
collaborating with Valancourt Books as well. I have done extensive research ever since.
But I soon found that despite the wonderful job that Zittaw and Valancourt are doing,
they do not always publish the titles that I would like to see back in print. Well, after some
weeks of pondering I decided to give it a try and start my own publishing business, with my
own range of titles. In a first phase, I wrote countless emails to friends of the Gothic and to
the most eminent authorities in the field as well as to young aspiring scholars. Response
to and acceptance of my venture has been so overwhelming that within the first six months
I had successfully recruited a team of more than fifty prospective editors from eleven
different countries throughout the world. An encouraging and breathtakingly good start!

 

Q: What types of books do you publish?

A: Since we are a publisher of Gothic and Romantic Fiction, we cover a period from c.1764
(Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto) to the neo-Gothic penny dreadfuls, or bloods, of the
1840s. We currently have three different series: The Gothic Library series aims to make
available rare Gothic fiction first published in the British Isles. The American Gothic series
offers an exciting range of some very elusive and unjustly forgotten novels spanning a
period from c.1795 to the 1850s and 1860s. And finally, our German Schauerroman series
comprises Gothic novels and tales in their original language. Titles include all of the
German Schauerromane which were translated into English as well as a wide range of
titles by the most prolific practitioners, but also some highly obscure examples of German
Gothic only recently unearthed. I really think it is a particular feature of our press that we
publish titles in two different languages.

In most cases, we publish fiction that big publishers would never dream of reprinting as
they clearly base their decision of which books to publish on what they expect will sell.
Udolpho Press, however, is not a money-oriented business. We publish the books we love
to read and see back in print. All the titles in our programme are either the ones I would
like to make available or which are proposed to me by scholars and friends in the Gothic.

 

Q: Why did you decide to call your business Udolpho Press?

A: Good question. Well, to be frank, I had originally intended to call my business Avondale
Press
to pay homage to my favourite Gothic novelist, Isabella Kelly, who wrote the Gothic
novel The Ruins of Avondale Priory. But much to my chagrin, on April Fool’s Day 2008 (no
joking!) I found out that there was already an obscure publisher of that name in the music
business. So, to avoid the risk of copyright infringement, I decided to drop the name and
settle on another one. Luckily, it didn‘ take me long to come up with Udolpho Press,
a name just as evocative, and in memory of the most successful and influential Gothic
writer, the great enchantress, Ann Radcliffe, and her masterpiece of the same name.

 

Q: How do you calculate book prices?

A: There are in fact a number of reasons that determine a book’s price. The major factor
definitely is the number of pages. Accordingly, an edition with a mere 100 pages will be
much cheaper than a 400- or even 600-page book.

Sometimes it is necessary to travel hundreds of miles in order to get a copy of a very rare
title, or we have to pay several hundreds of dollars/euros for reproduction. So prices for
these titles are a little higher. To give you an example, for the reproduction of the German
Schauerroman Der Geisterbanner (one of the novels that were translated into English as
The Necromancer, and which Jane Austen immortalized in her Northanger Abbey), we had
to pay more than $ 200. For some elusive titles on our list we will have to pay even more.
Such expenditures of money must unfortunately be priced into the books.

In general, however, we try to keep prices as low as possible.

Another factor is the print-run. As big presses such as Penguin, OUP, or even Broadview,
have a much higher print-run for most of their titles, prices may occasionally be a little
higher.

 

Q: Are you looking for new editors?

A: Absolutely! We have only just begun and are constantly widening our range of titles. So
we are always looking for scholars interested in editing a novel for us. And no matter
whether you are a professor of literature at a renowned university (and we have quite a
few of them), a Ph.D. student or an independent researcher, what we are looking for in
prospective editors is a passion for the Gothic. Our editors work with us because they love
the Gothic and would like to see a text back in print in a scholarly edition. We cannot
promise payment to our editors. Their greatest reward is a set of free copies of their
edited work and a nice entry on their CV to support their promotion, as well as the
personal satisfaction of being an integral part of our press and of making an essential
contribution to the resurrection of the Gothic we all love so much. So, if money is a major
concern for you, please try another publisher.

 

Q: So what does editing a book entail ?

A: The first step would be to drop us a short email telling us about yourself and the project
you are interested in. In some cases we will ask for more detailed information and your
CV. We are looking for editors who can write clearly and engagingly for a general
readership as our introductions are intended for an undergraduate as well as for the most
eminent academics in the field, but also for lovers of a good read. So we are not
interested in jargon-filled language.

However, all of our publications will have a well-researched scholarly introduction, notes
and appendices . An introduction should have a length of about seven to twenty pages (in
print), but this of course largely depends on how much there is to say about an author and
the novel.

We need editors with great attention to detail and an enthusiasm for the project and the
text they are actively working on in order to make it the best possible editions.