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Beeton, Samuel Orchart

Entry updated 24 October 2018. Tagged: Author.

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(1831-1877) UK publisher, editor and author, married from 1856 to Isabella Mary Mason (1836-1865), with whom he produced Beeton's Book of Household Management (1861), the book for which they remain best remembered. Beeton began his career as a publisher with Charles H Clarke in 1852, as C H Clarke & Co; at Beeton's instigation, they came out with the first English edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), which both brought the firm financial security, and hinted at Beeton's own politics, for he was a radical (in Victorian terms), a secularist, and a Republican. They also published an important early collection of Edgar Allan Poe's stories, Tales of Mystery, Imagination, & Humour: Second Series (coll 1853). Prosperity induced Beeton to found The Boy's Own Magazine in January 1855; it lasted until he lost control of all his titles in 1874 (ironically, The Religious Tract Society picked up the rights, and relaunched the journal as The Boy's Own Paper).

Beeton's Republicanism induced him to transform the Beeton's Christmas Annual sequence of Christmas anthologies – which he had created and had begun to edit with Beeton's Christmas Annual (anth 1860), and which is now best remembered for housing Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet (1887) – into an annual assault on the British Crown, couched as The Coming K –, a series of Near Future Satires from 1870 by Beeton and others, including Stephen Rose Emerson, H Doughty and Eustace Grenville-Murray (1824-1881), all writing anonymously, always in later volumes as "By the Authors of 'The Coming K –'". Each satire occupied the bulk of the Beeton's Christmas Annual for the first two years; from 1874, the volumes were published without reference to the annual, though otherwise in an exactly similar format (later volumes in the series reinstated the overtitle) [for Christmas Books see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Beeton certainly wrote much of the first volumes, and probably remained connected to the ongoing series until nearly the end.

The Coming K – comprises The Coming K – (anth 1872 chap; cut vt The Coming K –; a Set of Idyll Lays 1873), which treats the Royals as though they were King Arthur and family gone mad; The Siliad; or the Siege of the Seats (1873 chap), which treats a Parliamentary election in terms of the siege of Troy; Jon Duan: A Twofold Journey with Manifold Purposes (1874 chap), which parodies Lord Byron's Don Juan (1819-1824); Edward the Seventh: A Play on the Past and Present Times with a View to the Future (1876 chap), a seven-act play in blank verse incorporating a very early and sustained Future War tale; and Finis; Or, Coelebs and the Modern Sphinx (anth 1877 chap), which was "published for the benefit of the children of the late S O Beeton". Throughout, the identities of the Royals and other figures being skewered were hardly disguised; the ponderously edgy precision of the style and the mode may have been reminiscent of the work of W S Gilbert (1836-1911), but the nakedness of the assault was Beeton's doing. [JC]

Samuel Orchart Beeton

born London: 2 March 1831

died Richmond, Surrey: 6 June 1877

works (selected)


The Coming K –


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