That authors might experience ‘afterlives’ after their deaths, and that literary works might experience ‘afterlives’ after publication, is a familiar concept. Biographies, studies, and museums; sequels, revivals, and adaptations: authors and their texts might be revisited and ‘resurrected’ in many ways years after their physical and popular demise. Yet, the rather disconcerting thing about the ‘Ghostly Afterlives of Walter Scott’ with which Professor Toremans is concerned, is that that they occurred during Scott’s lifetime. These ‘afterlives’ took the form of pseudo-translations; works which claimed to be translations of novels by Scott, yet were entirely original compositions. In exuberantly claiming Scott’s authorship, such works subjected Scott to an act of authorial ventriloquism, rendering him responsible for writing events, characters and subjects in which his pen had no part.
The second instalment in this term’s series of seminars was given by Dr Bill Bell, Professor of Bibliography at the University of Cardiff and founder of the CHB. His talk centred on the John Murray Archive, which houses a rich repository of materials relating to the celebrated publisher. Founded in 1768, the Murray publishing house was run by seven generations of publishers, all named John Murray, until 2002 when John Murray VII announced a voluntary takeover by Hodder Headline. Professor Bell has a comprehensive study forthcoming on John Murray, Travels into Print: Exploration, Writing, and Publishing with John Murray, 1773-1859; in this seminar, he focused specifically on paratexts in books published under the proprietorship of John Murray I, John Murray II and John Murray III.