Jack London and George P. Brett (Macmillan): economics and ethics of “one of the greatest publisher-writer duos”

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The research is devoted to the analysis of ethical and economic aspects of the relationship between Jack London and his major publisher, Macmillan President George P. Brett. Until recently, these relations, which are the brightest example of the synthesis of friendship and mutual benefit, were not the subject of a separate study. The influence of publishers, editors and the literary market as a whole on the writer’s creativity was also underestimated. The purpose of this study is to confirm the significant role of Brett in London’s writing career, who became not only a business partner for the writer, but also a friend and mentor. The relationship between the writer and the publisher is traced in a historical perspective, showing their changes as the writer’s career develops from a literary aspirant to a popular author, conflicts and contradictions, including those that resulted in London’s brief apostasy from Macmillan and a contract with Century. It is shown that many of London’s works, radical or different from the demands of the mass reader, such as The People of the Abyss, The Kempton - Wace Letters, The Iron Heel, The Road, Martin Eden, saw the light solely due to Brett’s liberalism. The firm intention of the writer to publish a significant number of works unclaimed in the literary market debunks the myth of Jack London as a commercial writer. On the other hand, it was precisely the generous and steady advances from Macmillan that gave London freedom for literary experiments, without which he would never have been able to go beyond the short story genre, as well as the “discourse of bargaining” was an integral part of this amazing friendship between writer and publisher.

About the authors

Ekaterina V. Kesharpu

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Author for correspondence.
Email: ekesharpu@gmail.com
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7873-0896

PhD graduate, Department of History of Foreign Literatures

1 Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation


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  2. Labor, E. (2013). Jack London: An American life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  3. Labor, E., Leitz, R.C., III, & Shepard, I.M. (Eds.). (1988). The letters of Jack London (vols. 1-3). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  4. O’Connor, R. (1964). Jack London: A biography. Boston, Toronto: Little, Brown and Co.
  5. Page W.H. (1905). A publisher’s confession. New York: Doubleday, Page and Co.
  6. Venediktova, T.D. (2003). “Conversation in American”: Discourse of bargaining in the American literary tradition. Moscow: NLO Publ. (In Russ.)
  7. Williams, J.W. (2017). Introduction. In J.W. Williams (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Jack London (pp. 1-11). New York: Oxford University Press.

Copyright (c) 2022 Kesharpu E.V.

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