Libraries

Richard Menke, “The End of the Three-Volume Novel System, 27 June 1894″

Richard Menke, “The End of the Three-Volume Novel System, 27 June 1894″

In 1894, the great private circulating libraries announced that they were changing their terms for purchasing fiction, ultimately leading publishers to abandon the long-standard three-volume format for novels. This essay considers the three-volume novel system as part of an information empire and examines the collapse of that system both through the work of book historians and through the writing of Oscar Wilde, George Gissing, Ella Hepworth Dixon, Rudyard Kipling, and other writers of the 1890s.