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While the average price of unbound three-volume novels rose steadily from about nine shillings (1800-10) to over 30 (1840) (St Clair 203), the Waverley Novels were consistently priced beyond other works of fiction throughout the period, rising progressively from 18 to 32 shillings. Regardless, unprecedented print runs of 6-10,000 and high sales were the norm and every Waverley Novel was highly anticipated, openly discussed, demanded by members of circulating libraries, and taken up by reading societies. In this standard description of the popularity of the Author of Waverley there is a sense of national readership, but as William St Clair writes, “there was still a large gap between the nation as a whole and the literate nation, and another gap between the literate nation and the reading nation” (266-67). For the average factory or agricultural worker, the majority of the population, new novels and circulating libraries were expensive, while reading societies required entrance and yearly subscription fees beyond their means. In short, reading new works of fiction was a luxury dependent on leisure time, education, and financial independence, the Waverley Novels especially so.[1] However, Walter Scott’s prose fiction participated in the development of the reading nation in nineteenth-century Britain by various means. There were the French piracies of new Waverley Novels which made relatively cheap versions available to some, mostly on the continent, as early as 1815. Scott’s primary publishers, Archibald Constable and Robert Cadell, extended middle-class readership with cheaper collected editions, particularly with the ‘miniature edition’ (18mo) Novels and Tales of the Author of Waverley (1823, £4 4s.) and the Magnum edition (1829-33, 5s. per vol.). Jonathan Rose notes that “It was the success of Sir Walter Scott that finally turned the working classes to novel-reading: the Greenock Mechanics’ Institute prohibited ‘infidel literature’ in 1833, but the following year reversed its ban on the Waverley Novels” (179). But beyond reprints, collected editions, and institutional acceptance in some instances, the Waverley Novels were also transformed for downmarket readers throughout Britain.[2]

Despite the rise of the popular novel, selling in parts and numbers, and increased circulation of newspapers, chapbooks remained a prominent form of reading in Romantic Britain. Many working-class people “continued to read traditional, centuries-old chapbook fiction” (Kelly, “Fiction” 233) while old titles were replaced or supplemented by new ones (Kelly, “Fiction” 209; St Clair 348). In the eighteenth century most people read chapbooks such as Guy of Warwick, Jack and the Giants, or Robin Hood that had been circulating for centuries.[3] The usual sort were eight to 32 pages long, cost one to sixpence, and decorated with woodcut images not necessarily pertaining to the story. These did not disappear in the nineteenth century, but as Gary Kelly points out, “Around 1800, chapbooks of a new kind began to appear, mainly much shorter versions of books read by the middle classes, and bought from publishers and small shops, or possibly borrowed from small circulating libraries and pubs” (“Fiction” 209). Chapbook versions of out-of-copyright novels such as Robinson Crusoe and Pilgrim’s Progress were popular (Rogers 164), while abridgements and adaptations of upmarket novels for adults and children also began to flourish in the traditional chapbook form, re-produced in various ways for multiple readerships. Kelly notes,

The new chapbooks were usually from thirty-two to seventy-four pages long and cost from sixpence to a shilling – the price of a meal or a cheap theatre seat. The majority comprised fiction of three main kinds: shortened versions of the three-volume Gothic romances, historical novels, and sentimental tales produced for the middle classes; original novelettes or stories from magazines, in the same genres; and novelettizations of popular plays, melodramas, and even poems. These chapbooks purposely differed in appearance from the earlier kinds – more carefully printed, bound in attractively ornamented blue and yellow paper covers, and with hand-colored frontispieces depicting a sensational incident from the story.

“Fiction” 218

The chapbook form thus modified, while continuing the usual short, straightforward plot depicting a working-class experience of life, helped to fill a gap between upmarket modern literature and the downmarket reading of the economically less well off (St Clair 349).

The Heart of Mid-Lothian (1818; hereafter HM) considers modern self-identity and the development of Britain as a nation state through a multifaceted exploration of Anglo-Scottish relations between 1660 and 1751, with particular emphasis on the Porteous Riots of 1736. It includes multiple classes, regions, and nations, different literary forms, linguistic registers, and languages, and employs many social, political, and economic issues of direct relevance to Romantic readers in England and Scotland. As such, it has been taken up productively by scholars in numerous ways, adding much insight into the participation of Scott, Scottish fiction, the Waverley Novels, and HM in the literary presentation of history, modernity, and national identity.[4] But Scott wrote expensive literary novels that were bought, rented, or borrowed by a largely professional middle-class readership. In contrast, the form, content, and price of chapbooks – short histories, abridgements, or derivative tales – adapted from HM between 1818 and about 1830 suggest that the chapbook was a means of reaching and cultivating a variety of print audiences down the socio-economic scale.[5] As such, while studies of the novel continue to be valuable as means of considering national questions, the question of how most people read or experienced HM and the means by which the reading nation in the Romantic period can be described, is not answered in full by inquiries that do not include the forms that allowed for and encouraged readership beyond upmarket books.

The Heart of Mid-Lothian; or, The Lily of St. Leonard’s (Edinburgh: Caw and Elder; Alex. Peat, 1818) [6] was clearly part of an ongoing effort by Caw, Elder, and others to reach juvenile or downmarket readers with short versions of popular literature. George Caw, printer at Kelso, Hawick, and then Edinburgh, and Henry Elder were printers and publishers at the Stamp Office Close, Edinburgh from 1817 to 1821 and published The Edinburgh Juvenile Library, a series of children’s chapbooks, Ross’s Juvenile Library, and popular abridgements of books with Alexander Peat, each series selling for the low price of twopence a title; Elder later worked with James Winckworth (booksellers, stationers, music sellers, and circulating library) in 1827; Alexander Peat and Co. were wholesale stationers and booksellers in Edinburgh (SBTI). Size, length, and price indicate wide dissemination; it was portable, short, and cheap; 10 x 6 cm, 24 pages (each part), and twopence.[7] Other works of the series advertised include the following: Life and Exploits of Rob Roy, in two parts; Elizabeth, or the Exiles of Siberia, in two parts; Inkle and Yarico, an affecting and true tale; The Way to Wealth, or Poor Richard im-proved, by B. Franklin; Watts’ Divine Songs; Songs and Duets in the Play of Rob Roy with Bailie Jarvie’s journey to Aber-foil, and the ‘Boys of Kilkenny,’ sung by Mr Weekes, (6d.); Caledonia’s Delight, choice songs, (6d.). This compilation of well-known works suggests that popularity depended on topicality, regional or national distinction, and forms that encouraged or allowed for group participation; in this case, an early derivative of HM, the Author of Waverley or Scotland, and song. The association of HM with Sophie Cottin’s Elizabeth; or, the Exiles of Siberia, first published in French in 1806, is of particular interest. Cottin was a prolific and successful author, but as Peter Garside points out, Elizabeth also includes a number of parallels with HM. Notably, both Elizabeth and HM emphasize lower-class characters and describe an ambitious and successful initiative carried out by a central female character. In particular, “In Elizabeth, the heroine makes a long trip on foot to plead on behalf of her exiled parents, finally gaining a pardon through a direct appeal to the Emperor in Moscow. In the Heart, Jeanie Deans’s journey to London likewise culminates in a similar appeal to the Crown, in the person of Queen Caroline” (Garside). The popularity of the authors, the form and content of each work, reflect a market for literature that presents a positive view of the working-class self in everyday life, rather than upper-class domestic squabbles over inheritance or the aloof intellectual musings of an educated leisure class. Although ultimately conservative tales, form and theme fit well within a period of revolutionary social and political change from the Rights of Man (1791) to the Reform Act (1832), by appealing to the material interests of working-class readers.

Reference in the opening description to a ‘popular resume’ is indicative of the style and content employed – a selective listing of events distilled from the novel. As was common to the form, the story lacks “detailed representations of subjectivity, extensive descriptive passages, lengthy social scenes, and literary illusions often found in their sources” (Kelly, “Fiction” 219), but the simplified narrative style should not be solely attributed to low levels of literacy or education. Besides price and topicality, there are a number of reasons why such a re-telling of HM would be popular. First, the open-ended structure, formulaic closure, and weak denouement reflect a working-class experience of life as repetitive, cyclical, and generally, hard, as opposed to the middle-class ideal of ‘amounting to something’ (Kelly, “Fiction” 216). Second, besides social aspects such as literacy and leisure time, physical considerations such as the availability of space, the quality of shelter, and the quantity of light would also have contributed to the popularity of chapbooks and short histories as they were small, more likely to be damaged, and short. Third, oral storytelling remained prevalent among the working classes well into the nineteenth century; it was common for working-class readers to share reading material and entertain each other by reading aloud for family and friends. The short, direct narrative, as chapbook or play, seems well-suited to a reading or performance, much as lees, ballads, and songs played a role in family entertainment. Not surprisingly, then, the story is generally faithful to the original, but uses dramatic events to increase narrative tension particularly well. For example, Part II begins with an interrogation of Butler, but moves quickly to Jeanie’s meeting with the outlaw Robertson at Muschat’s Cairn; Robertson threatens Jeanie, holding a gun to her head when she will not commit to save her sister without knowing the means. Emphasis on high dramaturgy suggests a story told around a fire rather than a contemplative reading moment in a study. The interest in collective participation, storytelling, and action, although not restricted to downmarket readers, also overlaps with other popular forms of entertainment (and information) such as street literature and theatre. Broadsides, for example, often emphasized violent acts or criminal histories (Collison 31).[8] Further, ‘The Lily of St. Leonard’s’ of the chapbook title is used in the first of many performances of HM at theatres throughout Britain, Thomas John Dibdin’s The Heart of Mid-Lothian; Or The Lily Of St. Leonard’s: A Melo-dramatic Romance, in Three Acts (Stodart, 1819) first performed at the Surrey, a minor theatre on the south bank of the Thames, January 13, 1819.[9]

The Heart of Mid-Lothian, or The Affecting History of Jeanie and Effie Deans. Abridged from the original [of Sir Walter Scott] by D. Stewart (Newcastle upon Tyne: Printed by Mackenzie and Dent, 1819)[10] clearly strives to separate itself from the traditional chapbook. It is 52 pages and sold for one shilling, and is thus longer and more expensive than the Caw-Elder version. The frontispiece stresses the relationship between Jeanie and Effie, an emphasis that increased during the Victorian period and continued to the end of the nineteenth century, particularly on the stage: ‘JEANIE VISITS EFFIE IN THE TOLBOOTH’ | [engraving of Jeanie and Effie] | ‘“MY DEAR JEANIE! MY DEAR JEANIE!”’[11] More importantly, the full-page frontispiece replicates a style and quality found in more expensive books with multiple borders and an appropriate high-definition image that indicates a sense of distinction not seen in other versions; for example, the sixpence Company of Booksellers version (see below) has only a hand-coloured woodcut frontispiece and the one-penny Alnwick version (see below) retains only the traditional woodcut. The title-page does not quote Shakespeare or popular ballads, but Isaac Watts: “To man, in this his trial state, | The privilege is given, | When tost by tides of human fate, | To anchor fast in heaven.” The words seem generic enough, relating well to both melodrama and romance, but the use of Watts is particular as he was an eighteenth-century non-conformist theologian and logician best known as a prolific English hymn writer. In short, the inclusion of Watts is a reference that sets a serious tone for a self-respecting, Christian-minded audience.

The advertisement that includes the following notice provides another example of the publisher’s attempt to bring this chapbook in line with the expectations of middle-class readers:

ELIZABETH; | OR, | THE EXILES OF SIBERIA. | Being a true and affecting Display of Filial Affection. | BY MADAME COTTIN. | The Life and Surprising Exploits of | ROB ROY MACGREGOR; | With an historical Sketch of the celebrated | CLAN MACGREGOR. | BY D. STEWART, M.A. | ‘The eagle he was lord above, | But Rob was lord below.’ | Wordsworth. | THE SHIPWRECK; | OR, | PAUL AND VIRGINIA. | BY M. SAINT PIERRE, | Author of the Indian Cottage, the Voyage to the Isle of France, the | Studies of Nature, &c. &c. | THE HISTORY OF | ROBIN HOOD & LITTLE JOHN. | From an original Copy. | WITH GREAT IMPROVEMENTS.

The inclusion of Elizabeth, Rob Roy, Paul and Virginia, and Robin Hood indicates a predictable chapbook emphasis on adventure and romance, popular national and foreign (French) authors, traditional and new works. These were popular tales, well-known to most downmarket readers in some form. But Wordsworth was a niche author, known to few, read by even fewer. The only reason to refer to Wordsworth is to foster a sense of differentiation, essentially saying to the consumer: this is not for everyone. Every title listed is framed to emphasize truth, history, or improvement; Rob Roy comes ‘With an historical Sketch’; Paul and Virginia is written by the author of ‘Studies of Nature’; Robin Hood is derived ‘From an original Copy.’ Obviously, this is ‘serious’ literature worthy of a proper frontispiece, one shilling, and a reader that does not read just any old thing.

Accordingly, this abridgement is a skillful literary production tuned into a concern with progress and the always-powerful sense of relative social position. As Coleman S. Parsons notes, “Stewart’s organization of The Heart of Midlothian is the most complex as well as the least neglectful of Scott’s values” (199). The close rendering of the tale deteriorates quickly when critical events are dropped and the whole ending quashed (on page 50 Jeanie meets with Staunton at the rectory on her way to London, it is then only two pages to the end of the story), but it is well written. It only appears that the author began writing, perhaps planning on two parts, and had to curtail it suddenly, for whatever reason, thus demanding the end of part three and all of part four from the novel squeezed into a few paragraphs. Although Eneas Mackenzie, Sr. (1777-1832) printed for the Newcastle upon Tyne Bible & Religious Tract Association of Friends (SBTI), this version, which “refuses to be sensational” (Parsons 200) and is not overtly moral in tone, points instead to the accumulation of cultural capital. Mackenzie and Dent aimed for an educated, although not necessarily economically well off, readership with Enlightenment values of self-improvement, readers aspiring to become middle class or those that could already afford to pay one shilling and might justify chapbook reading if it was deemed distinguished or useful in some sense. Thus this adaptation is downmarket, but neither cheap nor unattractive, and it is a well-written history ‘from the original’ by the popular and distinguished Author of Waverley. Higher price, formal innovation, and literary cultivation point to the negotiation of niche markets within the reading nation as well as a broader chapbook readership than one might expect. While the chapbook is rightly associated with the working classes, the differentiation of chapbook production (in this case study, from one penny to one shilling) suggests that publishers were quite aware of the multiple readerships represented by this term and potentially available through the chapbook form.

Joseph Claude Mauris’s A Romantic Tale, Founded on Facts (London: Duncombe, 1820) is a good example of the chapbook form and literary adaptation used for moral or religious instruction. It is short (24 pp.) and cheap (the price is not listed, twopence seems likely), but strays from the chapbook as a predominantly and traditionally secular form. John Duncombe (trade dates 1817-1854) was a London bookseller, printer, music seller, print seller, newsagent, and vendor (BBTI), and an especially prolific publisher of melodramas and chapbooks (WorldCat). Throughout the 1820s and 30s Duncombe published chapbooks individually, in series, and collected featuring historical tales, adventure, romance, and comedy. Some contemporaneous titles include Dulvarno; or, the blasted hut of the mountains : an ancient Scottish legend (1818) and Adelaide, of Bavaria; or, Love, honour, and perfidy : A romance (1818), both published separately and in volume form with the title Ancient legends, or Interesting and Moral Tales (1818); Rosario, or, The Mysterious Sorceress : a romantic tale by Napoleon, Emperor of the French (ca. 1820), The devil & Tom Walker, or, The black woodsman : a legend of America (1832) and The Chevy Chace, or, The Battle of the Borders! : an historical tale (1832) by H.M. Milner, were part of an ongoing series published from 1817 called Dramatic Tales and Romances (WorldCat). A Romantic Tale was published as the third and final part of a collection including The History of Miss Harriot Fairfax and Female Tubrepidity; or, the Dangers of Superstition. A Tale of Modern Times.[12]

Most of these titles seem to suggest an emphasis on entertainment rather than conduct, but this is a strongly moralized re-telling of HM that favours institutional norms such as education and marriage while stressing the disadvantages of foreign influence. The first chapter, for example, presents a history of George Staunton’s upbringing in the West Indies and traces his desultory behaviour in England and Scotland, including a description of the disastrous results for Madge and Effie. The opening emphasis on history is in itself conservative, as is the ‘Founded on Facts’ in the title, perhaps attempting to avoid an unsavoury association with popular romance or melodrama, while the conclusions drawn are downright didactic. Chapter IV, for instance, includes some rather blunt moral statements that might have belonged to Hannah More, in sentiment if not in phrasing. On the way back to Scotland Jeanie saves Madge from the mob and finds a place for her in an asylum with the assistance of Rector Staunton. Efforts are made to convert her, but she dies a few days later, “a sad example to ‘splendid murderers of virtue, who make their vices their boast, and fancy female ruin a feather in their cap of vanity!’ – What is man! / When the worst heart can wear the brow of virtue, / And false appearance smile us to destruction? / And yet, what is he not, when crowned with truth / And every social virtue?” (23) Similarly, the conclusion of HM is altered to make a moral statement. As in the novel, Staunton searches for his son and is in the end killed by him, but the melodramatic ending is summarized as follows:

Staunton, in the full enjoyment of domestic peace with his adored Effie, had only looked forward to the recovery of his son as the completion of bliss – but alas! happiness and misery are too closely interwoven; we cannot taste the one without drinking the other, and while we inhale the draughts of bliss, the dregs remind us of the uncertainty of its continuance.


It is clear in volume four of HM that Effie and Staunton, childless and fearful of discovery, were not entirely happy with their life in London (IV.11: 418-19); further, the patricide and loss of the son to America are tragic, not the basis for vague philosophical or religious musings about life.

The moral emphasis in Mauris’s re-telling is particularly interesting for several reasons. First, it seems somewhat out of place given a title that suggests romance and history. Similarly, the list of publications attributed to Duncombe does not indicate a publisher on a religious mission. However, as this case study demonstrates, during the Romantic period tales could be transformed and published in various guises. Most importantly, it parallels what Kelly calls “pseudo-popular print directed at the working classes by middle-class social reformers” (“Fiction” 209). There are two obvious precedents: (1) Hannah More’s Cheap Repository, which copied the chapbook form and “relentlessly attacked the ideology and culture of traditional working-class print and the overt politics of pro-Revolutionary writers” (Kelly, “Fiction” 227); and (2) the adoption of More’s abandoned program by a committee of clergyman as the Religious Tract Society (from 1799). All of the chapbook versions of HM are conservative and the novel certainly could lend itself to a selective and didactic religious transformation given David Deans’s zealous Presbyterianism, Jeanie’s strong sense of morality, and the direct references in the third volume to Pilgrim’s Progress. Religious messaging in tracts or chapbook form was common and not restricted to traditional tales such as Pilgrim’s Progress or the reworking of new novels. Murray, for example, writes that “Thomas Nelson’s ambition to provide Christian and classical literature for the ‘common people’ led to his company’s publication of the Bible in thirty-two-page instalments” (289). However, although there was a demand for religious literature in many forms and among all parts of society, it seems unlikely that the ‘common people’ who embraced the adventurous and exotic tales of the traditional and secular eighteenth-century chapbook, and likely read whatever they could get and interested them, would be enamoured with staid didactic lessons, regardless of price or form. It is likely no coincidence that the Religious Tract Society sold their wares in bulk and depended on middle-class distribution (Kelly, “Fiction” 227). HM transformed into a moral tale for downmarket readers continues Scott’s own emphasis on the validity of patriarchal social structures to some degree, but more likely describes the specific hopes of upmarket social reformers acting from vaguely-defined post-Napoleonic fears of lower-class revolution far more than it represents the thematic interests or reading preferences of the intended audience. It also fits broadly with middle-class conduct literature of the period designed for children by authors such as Sarah Trimmer or Mary Martha Sherwood primarily aimed at maintaining the status quo and enhancing social cohesion through ‘useful’ knowledge or moral instruction.

The Heart Of Midlothian; Or The Lily Of St. Leonard, a Caledonian Tale of Great Interest (London: Company of Booksellers, 1822) manipulates form and content to negotiate a broad readership. The title-page makes direct reference to the theatre, noting its relation to “the Piece of that Name, | PERFORMED WITH UNBOUNDED APPLAUSE, AT | THE DIFFERENT THEATRES” and is based on Dibdin’s 1819 melodramatic adaptation for the Surrey. Not surprisingly, it sold for sixpence (the price of a seat in the gallery) and at 34 pages is typical of downmarket chapbooks for the period. It also includes a hand-coloured woodcut frontispiece (‘The Dying MADGE WILDFIRE Pursued by the Mob and Rescued by STAUNTON’) not uncommon for new chapbooks derived from contemporary upmarket fiction. The title coincides with the popularity of Scottish fiction in Britain (Duncan 31-43) and the debate over ‘national’ theatre in London (Worrall 41-44) that saw the redeployment of theatrical adaptations of HM as early as 1820 often subtitled ‘national dramas,’ ‘national dramatic tale,’ ‘national melo-drama,’ ‘Scotch drama,’ etc. (Bolton 266). Further, by utilizing scraps of “old Scottish song” (I.10: 87) based on those sung by Effie Deans in the novel (I.10: 86-7), the epigraph emphasizes the Scottishness of a ‘Caledonian Tale’:

The Elfin Knight sat on the brae,

The broom grows bonnie, the broom grows fair;

And by there came lilting a lady gay,

And we dare na gang down to the broom nae mair.

Through the Kirk yard I met wi’ the Laird,

The silly puir body, he said nae harm;

But just ere ‘twas dark,

Oh, I met with the Clerk, and-

The negotiation of a broad readership demanded a skilful weaving of high accessibility, distinction, and interest; the Surrey was the most distinguished of popular minor theatres; sixpence was neither cheap nor expensive for chapbooks of the period; the hand-coloured frontispiece was not unique, but of interest; national distinctions were common, but topical; the epigraph employed a ballad, but it was taken from a new novel.

This version also brings conservative middle-class values to the downmarket form in a particular way by integrating an Enlightenment sense of progress, lower-class sympathy, traditional authority, and moral education. For example, there are several interesting juxtapositions of past and present by way of direct appeal: “Reader the tale I am recording, took place a century ago; but now when our enlightened times spurn the bare idea of superstition . . .” (17); “It is to be remembered at the time of which we are writing, travelling was more dangerous, more tardy, and the want of regular conveyances rendered it very expensive” (25). The mob pursues Madge to the crags, where Staunton appears to defend her. A sentimental scene ensues: “Remorse seized Staunton as he held the dying Madge in his arms. She pardoned him, and said, ‘She was blest in breathing out her last sigh with him; if poor Effy gets free, be kind to her and reform.’ With this liberal sentiment, the unfortunate creature expired” (32). Effy [sic] is being led to her death when Jannie [sic] bursts through the crowd to deliver the pardon. At the news the “praises of Queen Caroline and Jannie Deans resounded through the town” (33). The final paragraph states: “May the snare into which the imprudent Effy drew herself, be a warning to young females; and let parents, while they watch over the actions of their children and train them to virtue, beware of rigid austerity, for it is best to invite confidence, and not repel it between ourselves and our off-spring” (34). As such, this version bridges the gap between readers at opposite ends of the social scale (Jeanie and the Queen) by employing a threshold price of sixpence, formal distinction (i.e. the hand-coloured frontispiece), a conservative tale that is sympathetic and inclusive, and a final message that mildly reinforces the educational concerns of social reformers of the day.

At 12 pages sold for one penny the form and price of The Heart of Mid-Lothian (Alnwick: W. Davison) fits a general trend towards length and price reduction (in part through stereotyping) that would seem to place it well after 1820.[13] However, although cheaply made with thin paper and woodcut prints, clearly designed for wide dissemination to a downmarket audience, this version is not unattractive and as with other versions clearly strives to distinguish itself from the traditional eighteenth-century chapbook. The front and back covers are made of blue paper decorated with borders and a woodcut image. Every page has a border and there are numerous images to accompany the text, all directly relevant to the story (p. 2 Jeanie waiting for Effie, p. 4 Effie taken away, p. 8 at court, p. 10 Jeanie and Effie in Tolbooth, p. 12 Jeanie with Queen, LS, Duke).[14] Given that Davison (trade dates 1802-1858) was a printer, engraver/etcher, bookseller, stationer, publisher, bookbinder, librarian/owner of circulating library, and stereotyper/stereotype founder (BBTI) it is not surprising that he took part in the chapbook innovations that adapted upmarket literature for working-class readers; he was capable in all technical aspects of the printing and publishing business and had a knowledge of the upper-class readers that frequently made use of circulating libraries. This is as obvious in terms of content as it is regarding form. Despite some obviously weak transitions from one scene to the next necessitated by the brevity and paratactic structure of all chapbooks, this is a relatively smooth and even account of HM with little moral judgment tacked on. Notably, as in Terry’s adaptation for the Theatre Royal Covent Garden (1819), minor characters are almost non-existent; for example, there is no sign of Dumbiedikes, Margery, Frank and Tom, Archibald, or Mrs. Glass. As such, there is no comedy and seemingly little attempt to win a crowd through entertainment, but the omissions are not due to moral didacticism. It is quite simply a condensed tale, well told, without the flare or exaggeration that emphasizes gypsies, criminals, and violence or the moral alterations that highlight virtue and education. Scots language is employed, which may reflect publication location and the interests of an audience near the Scottish border, as well as localization of the chapbook trade to minimize transportation costs. Overall, then, it seems a story made for downmarket readers that want the story short, well written, and without the politics. Potential production factors, depending on the exact date of publication, might include the passing of the Reform Act in 1832 or the decrease in tax on newspapers in 1836. Otherwise, it might simply be that Davison encouraged, or most readers wanted, a version that did not preach, teach, or exaggerate.

Variations in price and form indicate that the print market was divided into fairly broad categories. HM sold for 32 shillings, Criminal Trials: Illustrative of the Tale Entitled ‘The Heart of Mid-Lothian’ Published from the Original Record, with a Prefatory Notice, Including Some Particulars of the Life of Captain John Porteous (a history of the Porteous Riots published by Archibald Constable) sold for 8 shillings, The Confession, &c. of Nicol Muschet, of Boghul, who was executed in the Grassmarket, January, 1721, for the Murder of his Wife, in the Duke’s Walk, near Edinburgh (a 63-page pamphlet explaining the gruesomeness of Muschat’s Cairn) sold for a shilling (Parsons 201),[15] and the Caw-Elder chapbook sold for twopence. Each was published in 1818 and in Edinburgh. But as this case study suggests, the new chapbook was a flexible form that could mediate between publisher and reader within varied socio-historical circumstances by variations in price, form, and content sensitive enough to reach lower-class, working-class, lower-middle class, and middle-class audiences in particular ways. Although changes in British printing and publishing, such as the steam press and stereotyping, tended to favour wider dissemination at lower prices the production of print products throughout the Romantic period in Britain was neither linear nor uniform. Rather, because of the improvements and disparities in education, literacy, and financial well-being across all classes, publishing during a period of limited copyright, increased print productivity, and great social change was as rhizomatic and varied as the readerships involved. The middle-class Enlightenment ideals of progress and improvement represented in HM, and many other works of the period, were accompanied by an investment mentality that promoted the accumulation of cultural capital. Self-education and distinction were not restricted to the upper classes or readers of the Waverley Novels and could be promoted or encouraged in a variety of forms. The Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge and the Society for the Promotion of Useful Knowledge provide only two obvious examples, although literature that aimed to instruct and/or entertain came in many forms.[16] The working classes, as with other classes, furnished themselves with the reading material they could get and with that which made the most material and social sense for their own lives. Further, as this case study indicates, there were all sorts of reader in-between upmarket and downmarket, literate and interested in getting on in life, at a price they could afford. In short, besides a widespread interest in improving one’s station in life and getting on in the world, the chapbook versions of HM seem to describe reading situations relative to personal, socio-political, economic, regional, and national conditions which coincide with general trends or categories that bring together all downmarket readers of the period less discriminately.[17]

The adaptation of HM to new forms for different audiences continues today. The scholarly Edinburgh University Press edition used for this paper costs nearly $100 (£60), other versions and forms of the novel are available at a variety of prices, while The Squashed Version of The Heart of Midlothian by Sir Walter Scott at Glyn Hughes’ Squashed Writers, subtitled ‘All the books you think you ought to have read: In their own words . . . but magically Squashed into half-hour short stories’ is free on the web. In many ways, this is the twenty-first century version of the nineteenth-century adaptation of an out-of-copyright work for chapbook readers. Online chapbooks of new novels are not yet popular, but media technology and careful rewriting enable continued widespread dissemination of literary traditions and canonical works redesigned and marketed for the interests, needs, and reading habits of a new generation of readers. In this online version of HM, for example, there is no difference in plot from the novel. While Romantic adaptations in print and on stage regularly diverged from HM in plot, tone, or moral emphasis, most contemporary readers want the story as it is in the novel, most likely because they are reading it for an academic course or for cultural capital. ‘All the books you think you ought to have read’ – in other words, how to engage in classroom discussion and/or respond to elite cultural cues at social gatherings without infringing on work or leisure time. Much like the Alnwick version, the story is boiled down to Jeanie and Effie, the trial and the journey, with all other characters and parts only alluded to as necessary. In short, the goal is plot – no more, no less. There is little in the way of entertainment, morality, or social context. It is a selective and secular chronology of events that meets the needs of students that would rather (or must) read HM in half an hour by way of a Blackberry, Kindle, iPad, etc. on the way to another class, a part-time job, or a party. In the way that each of the versions available speaks to the material and social needs of a broadly defined working class relative to contemporary shifts in copyright legislation and media technology it is not so different from the production of the new Romantic-period chapbooks for different class interests and identities.