[ANARCHISM] [AUTOGRAPHS & MANUSCRIPTS] KROPOTKIN, Prince Petr Alekseevich
Three Autograph Letters To His Publisher, Signed, Dated 1891
Harrow on the Hill [London]: 1891. Three handwritten letters to the London publisher Swan Sonnenschein, dated between April 7-18, 1891. Four, two, and three pages respectively. Each on a single octavo sheet, folded once to make four ca. 18cm x 11cm pages. Each letter neatly penned in ink in Kropotkin's hand, datemarked "Harrow on the Hill" (a neighborhood of London); each signed, "P. Kropotkin." Minor toning at folds and margins, else Fine. A fascinating series of letters relating to publication of Kropotkin's major book Fields, Factories, and Workshops, a popularization of his Communist Anarchist philosophy intended for workingmen and general readers. In the first letter, dated April 7th, Kropotkin pitches his concept of the book, to be based upon "...articles which I lately contributed to The Nineteenth Century upon the necessity of combining Agriculture with Industry, & Brain work with Manual work." He goes on to list the articles he will use, promising to undertake necessary revisions and updating of statistics; he predicts the book "...will make about 55,000 words with the Appendix, and might be published, I suppose, in a 4/o volume...Would you like to undertake the publication of this book?" The answer was apparently in the affirmative, as Kropotkin's next letter responds (negatively) to the publisher's idea of including the book in their "Social Science Series": "...my opinion is, that the book which I propose to publish is not one which might suitably be published in that Series...its character is different, and it appeals to another set of readers." But in the final letter, written on April 18th, Kropotkin seems to yield on this point; he agrees with the publisher's proposal to bring the book out at 5 shillings, then goes on to discuss royalties (1-1/2d to the shilling) and requests an advance of 60 pounds. Fields, Factories, and Workshops was finally published in 1899, under the Hutchinson imprint, and was soon recognized as a foundation work of the Anarchist movement; it is now considered a major classic of political philosophy and is probably Kropotkin's most-read work. The circumstances accounting for the near decade lapse between Kropotkin's conception of the book and its eventual publication are murky; however, the fact that Swan Sonnenschein did not bring out the first edition, but did later issue a popular edition of the work (in 1901), suggests to us that publication may have been delayed due to a misunderstanding over which publisher in fact had rights to the book. Whatever the case, this remains a scarce and historically important series of letters, with real content, by the widely-acknowledged Father of modern Communist Anarchism.