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Typesetting and Revision

On 12 November 1891, Nathaniel Beard, for George Bentley,note wrote to Catherine Martin in Paris expressing the firm's willingness "to facilitate arrangements for the new story", even though they were still "completely in the dark as to its nature". Asking to have the entire story by 10 December, Bentley undertook to give it "priority over any mss then on hand", because of "the urgency of the case", and to "gauge its prospects" (that is, make a decision about publication) before Christmas. It would, he agreed, be feasible to provide Martin with four sets of proofs of the first volume, "between Xmas and the 20th of January" as she had requested.note

The reason both for the "urgency" and for Martin's request for four sets of proofs appears to have been that, having retained the Australian serial rights for her own disposal, she had already made arrangements to forward the proofs of Volume I to the two Australian newspaper proprietors–Robert Kyffin Thomas in Adelaide, and David Syme in Melbourne–who were going to publish the novel in serial form. Her correspondence with Bentley indicates that each newspaper had agreed to pay her £60 for the rights to serial publication alone, although the possibility of publication in a third, unidentified, paper had foundered on the matter of Australian book rights.note

However, her negotiations with Bentley himself were soon complicated by a disagreement over the terms that were offered and accepted for the book. On 23 December 1891, while noting


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that "the perusal of the book has not yet been completed", Bentley indicated his willingness to publish it by adding: "We have, however, seen sufficient of it to be able to arrange for the proof sheets that you wish for". In the same letter he made Martin an offer of "fifty pounds upon the day of publication and twenty-five pounds further if we sold five hundred and fifty copies" and, if a cheap one-volume edition was later called for, a royalty of ninepence on every copy of that edition after the first eight hundred. She replied on 30 December that "the payment of £75 on publication with the royalty you named on copies after 500 copies of the library edition, and the royalty on the cheap edition after 400 copies would not be an extravagant demand". On 4 January 1892 Bentley offered her £75 upon publication, but repeated his first offer ofa royalty, only on a one-volume edition, of ninepence on every copy sold after the first eight hundred. However, in her letter of acceptance on 5 January she set out the terms of the agreement as though Bentley had acquiesced to her earlier demand for a royalty on the three-volume edition: "I agree to the terms you mentioned–namely £75 to be paid on the publication of the story, royalty on the three volume edition not to be paid till after five hundred & fifty copies are sold–nor on the second cheap edition till after 800. You do not seem to anticipate more than one edition of 550 of the three volume yet a very moderate share of luck might I imagine lead to a second edition of 550." An undated Bentley memorandum records the discrepancy between "Mrs. Martin's Version" of the terms of agreement and that of "Her Publishers" on the question of a royalty on the three-volume edition, but in the event the difference was immaterial: Bentley's ledgers suggest that, by March 1893, only 448 copies of The Silent Sea had been disposed of.note

In his letter of 23 December 1891, Bentley had also asked Martin how much time she had at her disposal for revision, and had suggested that she might "amend" some "blemishes" he identified in the work: "The opening part of the story is somewhat protracted, and several characters are mentioned in the course of it only to vanish, later on, from the scene. The arrangements of chapters about groups of characters alternate somewhat disconnectedly & the links are not perceived until further on in the story, so that a good deal of matter seems to be irrelevant".note




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(He had, as noted above, also told Martin in this letter that he had not yet read the whole manuscript.) Martin's initial response was to leave responsibility for revision to Bentley–in her letter of 30 December she wrote that "it may be better to ask you to do the best you can in my interest as well as your own". However, the same letter makes it clear that she had previously agreed to a stipulation by David Syme that the London edition should not appear until midway through the Melbourne serialisation, and, seeking Bentley's cooperation in this arrangement, she now pointed out as one of its advantages that, with the benefit of Bentley's suggestions for improvement, she would be able to make alterations in the work before it appeared in book form.note Bentley replied on 4 January 1892, agreeing to defer publication, but his reference to sending her the proof sheets "as soon as the alterations have been made in the m.s." shows that he assumed Martin would make revisions to the manuscript (which was still in their hands) before they printed the four sets of proofs.note In the same letter Bentley asked whether she could not delay arrangements with the Australian newspapers by two or three weeks so that the alterations could be made "without any feeling of hurry". In response Martin immediately telegraphed from Paris: "Impossible to postpone dispatch of copy please send proofs", and followed this on 5 January with a letter reminding Bentley that the proofs of the first volume had to be posted to Australia on 22 January, and asking again that the sets of proofs be sent to her "with as little delay as possible" so that she could have them for a few days before the posting date. It was obvious that such proofs would have to be printed from the manuscript as it then stood. While remarking that "personally I do not think that the revision of the first volume should be of a very drastic nature", Martin again offered to make some alterations in proof for Volume I of the book edition "where form is of more importance". She dismissed the fact that this would entail differences between the texts of the newspaper and book versions with the comment that "there would be nothing unusual" in such a variation. She also asked that Bentley return her manuscript when sending the proofs, so that she could revise the rest of the material (that is, for Volumes II and III) before it went to press.note No correspondence survives between Martin and Bentley for the period from 5 January to 5 September 1892, when Bentley


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replied to a letter from her with a note, addressed to Birmingham, advising her of the publication date of the novel.note Thus there is no documentary evidence concerning the arrangements made for proofing, revision and transmission to Australia, or return to Bentley, of the text of Volumes II and III of the novel, beyond Martin's suggestion that she would revise this material in manuscript. However, as explained below, there are variations between the different versions of Volume II and Volume III which make it clear that some authorial revision of the text did intervene between the newspaper and Bentley versions, and that, whatever revision of the returned manuscript took place, subsequent revision was carried out on the separate sets of proofs. Martin's revisions of the proofs of all three volumes, for the serialisations on the one hand and for Bentley on the other, are discussed below ("Text"). The proofs themselves are no longer extant.

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