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Towards a professional identity: Translators in the Victorian publisher’s archive

Citation: Milan, Michelle (2021) Towards a professional identity: Translators in the Victorian publisher’s archive. Meta, 66 (1). pp. 48-72. ISSN 1492-1421

This essay situates itself at the intersection of book history and translation studies, and inquires how the archive, in this instance, those of British publishers, can help us chart the development of the professional literary translator in the nineteenth century. A key period in print culture, during which many cultural, technological and social shifts occurred, the Victorian era saw the rise of the literary profession, the relevance and impact of which on literary translation can be even better understood in the light of developments in British publishing practices. Using hitherto largely untapped primary sources and uncovering a number of significant processes in the publishing history of literary translation, the discussion offers fresh insights into the production of English-language translations in nineteenth-century Britain. Drawing on the archival records of Richard Bentley’s publishing house, including translators’ correspondence and the contractual agreements that underpinned the production and publication of translations, this study inquires into what may be termed the “proto-professionalization” of literary translators in the nineteenth century.

Additional Information: Published as part of a Marie Curie postdoctoral project conducted at the Institute English Studies from Sept 2018-Dec 2020 (EU Horizon 2020 - Acronym: TRANSACT)
Creators: Milan, Michelle (0000-0002-8205-172X) and
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Subjects: Culture, Language & Literature
Keywords: literary translators, nineteenth-century publishing, British publishing, book history, professionalization, archival research, publishers' archives, translation history, book history, authorship
Divisions: Institute of English Studies
Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies
Collections: Humanities Digital Library
Book History
  • 1 June 2020 (accepted)
  • 2 October 2020 (submitted)
  • 20 September 2021 (published)


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