Publishers reinvent Woolf and Joyce as copyright lapses

Publishers reinvent Woolf and Joyce as copyright lapses

Classics publishers are refreshing their editions of modernist authors James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, including novels such as Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway, as both authors' work comes out of its revived copyright provision this year.

Classics publishers stressed the need to continue to reinvent the presentation of the authors' works, in a market where more publishers are now free to bring out their own editions of the texts without paying a royalty.

Wordsworth Editions director Derek Wright said: "Virginia Woolf and James Joyce moving into the public domain has had an influence on our title selection." The publisher previously only published a selection of the authors' titles, but has just released an edition of Joyce's Finnegans Wake for the first time, with an introduction by Professor Len Platt, as well as The Complete Novels of James Joyce, just last week released in both paperback and hardback form, in the Special Editions series for £6.99, and then, in March, in its Library Collection series for £11.99. It will be adding to its Woolf collection three new double volumes: A Room of One's Own & The Voyage Out, Night and Day & Jacob's Room and The Years & Between the Acts (all £1.99 pb), with the first two for February release, the last April.

Vintage Classics editorial director Laura Hassan said the media tends to pick up more on publication or author anniversaries rather than books coming out of copyright, but added: "Once a book is out of licence it does allow radio, TV companies and so on more freedom to adapt books," citing The Dubliners being chosen as Dublin's One City One Read title this year. In autumn 2012 Joyce's The Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man will move into Vintage Classics for the first time, and the publisher will also release Professor Gabler editions of Joyce's works, including Ulysses, considered to be the closest available to Joyce's own text, exclusively in November with new introductions. From April 2012 to April 2013, it will be giving a fresh look to Woolf's complete works, based on the unedited Hogarth editions.

Similarly, Penguin Classics and Oxford University Press will be continuing to publish both authors, with some new editions in the pipeline. Penguin Classics will be releasing a new edition of Joyce's Finnegans Wake as a £30 hardback in April, with thousands of original corrections reinserted by scholars Danis Rose and John O'Hanlon. OUP will also release a new edition of Finnegans Wake in June, with new Oxford World Classics editions of Woolf's Jacob's Room, A Room of One's Own, Three Guineas, The Waves and Orlando coming later in the year.

The two authors' works were originally out of copyright in 1992, under the 50-year copyright rule, but came back into copyright in January 1996 when the 70-year rule was instated, which is why multiple editions are already in print.