‘Valancourt? and who was he?’ cry the young people. Valancourt, my dears, was the hero of one of the most famous romances which ever was published in this country. The beauty and elegance of Valancourt made your young grandmammas’ gentle hearts to beat with respectful sympathy. He and his glory have passed away. Ah, woe is me that the glory of novels should ever decay… Inquire at Mudie’s, or the London Library, who asks for ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ now? Have not even ‘The Mysteries of Paris’ ceased to frighten? Alas! our best novels are but for a season…”
—William Makepeace Thackeray
Valancourt Books was
founded in 2005 when we decided, after a 40 hour round-trip drive
from Seattle to Nebraska to access some rare books on microfiche that
could be found nowhere else in North America, that it was time for a
publisher to use modern technology to restore widespread access to
rare, neglected, and out-of-print literature. We began publishing in
March 2005 with our first two titles, the first two entries in our
Gothic Classics series, the anonymous The Animated Skeleton
(1798) and Francis Lathom’s The Castle of Ollada (1795).
Since then, we have gradually expanded our focus, publishing more
than 150 titles in various genres, from the 18th, 19th,
and 20th centuries.
Valancourt's titles have been favorably reviewed by many publications, including The Times Literary Supplement, Library Journal, The Times of London, and numerous academic and scholarly journals, and our books have been acquired by libraries worldwide and adopted for university course use in schools in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. All titles are carefully edited from the original editions and contain the unabridged original text, newly typeset in clear and attractive typefaces and attractively designed and bound.
We currently publish in three series: Twentieth Century Classics, Gothic Classics and Valancourt Classics. Most of our titles are published both in paperback and electronically for Kindle and Apple devices, while some of the rarest texts are reprinted in collector's hardcover editions. Although our editions are high-quality and many of the books we reprint are works of exceptional scarcity, we strive to keep our prices comparable to or below those of other larger publishers.
Twentieth Century Classics
During our first eight years, we focused on restoring access to important 18th and 19th century works, making these scarce texts widely available in quality editions for readers, students, and scholars. However, recent large scale efforts to digitize these works by Google Books, HathiTrust Digital Library, Open Library, Gale’s Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Collections Online, and others, have made many 18th and 19th century public domain works freely and widely available. Perhaps unexpectedly, in many cases is now easier to gain access to a book from the 1880s (or even the 1780s) than the 1980s.
Recognizing the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of excellent and important copyrighted novels are out of print because they do not sell well enough to attract the attention of large publishing houses, Valancourt Books in 2013 launched a groundbreaking new series focusing on out-of-print, scarce, and neglected modern fiction. Each volume is newly typeset and professionally designed, and all titles in the series contain introductions by top writers, critics, and scholars, including Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison, Michael Dirda, Ramsey Campbell, Poppy Z Brite, Kim Newman, and many more.
The titles in this series will be a diverse selection with one thing in common: they’re all excellent reads. Titles confirmed so far include several winners of Britain’s most prestigious literary prizes, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award, as well as fiction by critically acclaimed authors like Francis King, C.H.B. Kitchin, Keith Waterhouse, John Wain, John Braine, and J.B. Priestley, as well as the very best of supernatural and horror fiction, such as works by Colin Wilson, John Blackburn, Basil Copper, and Oliver Onions, among many others. Additionally, the series will have a heavy focus on gay-themed works and works by gay authors.
In 2013, Valancourt Books has already released more than twenty titles in this exciting new series and plans to release more than 60 by the end of the year.
Although Gothic literature in English dates back at least to Shakespeare's Hamlet and Macbeth and continues to be popular in new novels being published today, our Gothic Classics series focuses on the heyday of the Gothic novel's original popularity, from the 1790s, when classic bestsellers like Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Matthew Lewis's The Monk appeared, to the 1830s, when this type of Gothic novel generally began to be replaced with the “penny dreadful” in works like Varney the Vampyre.
Our Gothic Classics titles include the seven “horrid novels” read by Catherine Morland and Isabella Thorpe in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, five of which have already been published, with the other two currently in the press, as well as numerous other extremely rare Gothic titles. Some of our offerings, such as The Forest of Valancourt (1813) and The Monastery of Gondolfo (1801) have survived in only one known copy each and would be unobtainable if not for our new editions. In all, we have published more than four dozen extremely scarce Gothic texts, with many others planned for future publication.
In addition to restoring access to these lost novels, our volumes in many cases contain never-before-published scholarship revealing the details of the lives of their previously unknown authors. So far, our editors' introductions have uncovered the life details of Northanger novelists Peter Teuthold, Eliza Parsons, Francis Lathom and Eleanor Sleath, as well Gothic luminaries such as T. J. Horsley Curties. The importance of our Gothic Classics series has been recognized in articles in scholarly journals such as Gothic Studies, European Romantic Review, and Eighteenth Century Fiction.
Our Valancourt Classics series includes new editions of forgotten or neglected classics from the 18th and 19th centuries, and includes titles by many important authors, including Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ann Radcliffe, Walter Pater, Ouida, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, and Oscar Wilde, as well as titles by excellent writers who had been forgotten prior to our new editions, such as Bertram Mitford, Richard Marsh, Charles Johnstone, John Moore, and Baron de la Motte Fouqué, among others. Our Valancourt Classics titles generally contain longer and more substantial introductions than our Gothic Classics titles and contain useful annotations and appendices to aid in the appreciation of the text.