Henry George Bohn

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Henry George Bohn (4 January 1796 22 August 1884) was a British publisher. He is principally remembered for the Bohn's Libraries which he inaugurated. These were begun in 1846, targeted the mass market, and comprised editions of standard works and translations, dealing with history, science, classics, theology and archaeology.



Bohn was born in London. He was the son of a German bookbinder who had settled in England. In 1831 he began his career as a dealer in rare books and remainders. In 1841 he issued his "Guinea" Catalogue of books, a monumental work containing 23,208 items. Bohn was noted for his book auction sales: one held in 1848 lasted four days, the catalogue comprising twenty folio pages. Printed on this catalogue was the information: "Dinner at 2 o'clock, dessert at 4, tea at 5, and supper at 10."

The name of Bohn is principally remembered by the important Bohn's Libraries which he inaugurated: these were begun in 1846 and comprised editions of standard works and translations, dealing with history, science, classics, theology and archaeology, consisting in all of 766 volumes. His authors included Julia Corner who created educational books about India and China for him in the 1850s. [1]

The reasons for the success of Bohn's Libraries may have included their marketing to a general mass readership with volumes selling at low prices, [2] their "lack of literary pretensions", and their "policy of a widespread, but restrained expurgation". [3]

One of Bohn's most useful and laborious undertakings was his revision (6 vols. 1864) of The Bibliographer's Manual of English Literature (1834) of W. T. Lowndes. The plan includes bibliographical and critical notices, particulars of prices, etc., and a considerable addition to the original work.

It had been one of Bohn's ambitions to found a great publishing house, but, finding that his sons had no taste for the trade, he sold his Bohn's Libraries in 1864 to Messrs. Bell and Daldy, afterwards G. Bell & Sons. At that time the Bohn's Libraries included more than 600 titles. [4] [5] In subsequent years, he disposed of all his copyrights and business properties, finally realizing £73,000 overall. [6]

Bohn was a man of wide culture and many interests. He himself made considerable contributions to his Libraries, he collected pictures, china and ivories, and was a famous rose-grower.

He died at Twickenham and was buried at West Norwood Cemetery.


Among his own works were:

Besides his edition of Lowndes' Bibliographer's Manual, he developed an edition of Addison's works.

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  1. Rosemary Mitchell, ‘Corner, Julia (1798–1875)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 4 Oct 2014
  2. O'Sullivan, Carol, "Translation within the margin: The Libraries of Henry Bohn," in Milton, John, Bandia, Paul (eds.) Agents of Translation (Benjamins Translation Library). p. 107. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2009.
  3. O'Sullivan, Carol, "Translation within the margin: The Libraries of Henry Bohn," in Milton, John, Bandia, Paul (eds.) Agents of Translation (Benjamins Translation Library). p.126. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2009.
  4. Feather, John. A History of British Publishing. p. 106. London: Routledge, 2005.
  5. Bohn’s Popular Library, seriesofseries.owu.edu. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  6. David B. Mock, "H. G. Bohn (London: 1831–1864)", in: Patricia Anderson and Jonathan Rose, eds., British Literary Publishing Houses 1820-1880 (Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 106). Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1991, p. 60.


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