T Fisher Unwin
Thomas Fisher Unwin (1848 - 1935) became Schreiner’s main British publisher. Unwin started his own publishing business in 1882, setting up his offices at 11 Paternoster Buildings in 1883. He was eager to publish new, unknown writers and over time developed a reputation as an avant garde publisher. He published a new edition of Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm in 1888, and of Dreams in 1890, and then went on to publish most of her subsequent books (including posthumous ones). This included Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland in 1897, in spite of his concerns about a possible libel suit being taken out by Cecil Rhodes. In fact, as Schreiner’s letters to him show, Unwin attempted, unsuccessfully, to make Schreiner herself solely responsible for the book’s content in order to avoid a lawsuit being taken out against his firm, that is, for him to avoid the usual responsibilities of publishers.
In addition to Schreiner’s writings, Unwin also published a number of other ‘experimental’ authors including H.G. Wells, Joseph Conrad and Somerset Maugham. His publishing company was known for its varied series, including the Pseudonym Library, a series of eighteen pence books with authors including Edith Nesbit Bland, John Buchan and Vernon Lee (Violet Paget), and the Story of Nations Library, to which well-known historians contributed. Unwin was interested in a number of social and political causes, including internationalism, liberalism and women’s suffrage. He married Jane Cobden Unwin in 1892, and in 1896 he co-founded the Publisher’s Association.
Schreiner’s letters to Fisher Unwin offer fascinating insight into the publication of her writings, and her dealings with publishers. The contents of the letters are dominated by business arrangements including the rates she was prepared to accept for her work, correcting proofs, what she referred to as the ‘get-up’ of her books (their covers and presentation), reviews of her work in the press, plans for future publications and accounts of the sales of her books already published. There is at times also a sense of Schreiner’s friendship with Unwin in her letters to him, especially during the early 1890s, although she attempts to keep this ‘separate’, sometimes labelling letters or parts of letters specifically as ‘business’ or ‘friendship’. From her responses, it is evident that Unwin sent Schreiner parcels of books from time to time, and also occasionally solicited her opinion and advice about manuscripts he was hoping to publish.
For further information see:
Julie F. Codell (2004) ‘Unwin, Thomas Fisher (1848-1935)’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/47454
Philip Unwin (1972) The Publishing Unwins London: Heinemann