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Undated portrait of Albert Levi Burt

A. L. Burt Company was a New York-based book publishing house from 1883 until 1937. Founded by Albert Levi Burt, it began reprinting home reference works, reprints of popular and classic fiction, before expanding into the field of children's books. Upon Albert Burt's death in 1913, his son, Harry Prentice Burt, took over. Harry Burt retired in 1937, selling the company to Blue Ribbon Books. Its books promoted a romantic view of exciting topics such as aviation and radio.[1][2][3]

Contents

HistoryEdit

Early years, 1883–1902Edit

Though officially incorporated in 1902, A. L. Burt Company arose out of book-publishing efforts by its founder, Albert Levi Burt, that began in 1883.[4] That year Albert Burt, who was born in 1843 in Massachusetts, moved to New York City and soon thereafter began using a small office at 105 John Street to publish books.[4] He initially focused on home reference works—his first publication was a reprint of The National Standard Dictionary—before moving to paperback fiction with his Manhattan Library line of books late in the decade.[4] He also wanted to publish what he termed "good literature," and so at the same time began the Burt's Home Library line with 25 titles, eventually reaching 500.[4]

Albert Burt soon launched the Boy's Home Library line of juvenile paperbacks, with individual titles priced at 25 cents and a yearly subscription for $2.50; these appear to have been published concurrently with $1 hardcover editions of the same works.[4] The titles, which included first editions as well as reprints, were by such authors as Horatio Alger, James Otis, Harry Castlemon, and Edward S. Ellis.[4] The business grew rapidly, moving into larger offices four times between 1883 and 1900, and began to focus on hardcover novels, a response to the saturation of the cheap paperback market.[5]

Incorporation and series books, 1902–1937Edit

As A. L. Burt expanded, and after it incorporated in 1902, it began targeting both adult and juvenile markets.[5] Zane Grey's second book, Spirit of the Border, sold some 750,000 copies as an A. L. Burt first edition.[5] Similar success was found with other adult authors, such as Harold Bell Wright and Joseph C. Lincoln.[5] Meanwhile, the Chimney Corner Series began offering 50 cent juvenile hardcovers in 1905; 69 titles were issued under the series in slightly less than a decade.[5]

In 1911 A. L. Burt began issuing series books as part of an effort to compete with the Stratemeyer Syndicate.[5] Four books by Wilmer M. Ely, originally sold individually for $1, were repackaged into the Boys Chums Series, and sold for 40 cents each.[5] Harry Prentice Burt continued with series books after his father's 1913 death, initially pursuing reprint rights for existing works; series such as the Jack Lorimer Series, the Oakdale Series, the Boy Scouts Series, and the Border Boys Series.[6] New series were also introduced, such as the Bronco Rider Boys and the Big Five Motorcycle Boys under pseudonyms of St George Henry Rathborne.[6] Particular success was had with World War I-themed series, such as The Boy Allies.[6] The series—comprising 13 The Boy Allies of the Army books and 10 of The Boy Allies of the Navy—is considered "the best-known of all series with the war as its primary setting", and presents "the boy heroes practically winning the war single-handedly".[6]

After the war ended, A. L. Burt's series books adapted with the times.[7] The Radio Boys Series, started in 1922, coincided with a popular interest in wireless radio—and with the Stratemeyer Syndicate's issuance of an identically-titled series.[7] Further series followed; the Beverly Gray mysteries, published from 1934 to 1937 by A. L. Burt, and later by Grosset & Dunlap, were the company's most successful series of the 1930s, selling well despite an economy weakened by the Great Depression.[7] The Beverly Gray series was termed a "soap opera", with the many adventures of its protagonist including three plane crashes.[8]

Looking to retire, in 1933 Harry Burt began discussions about a sale with Blue Ribbon Books.[9] In 1937 he finally sold; two years later, Blue Ribbon Books sold its assets and reproduction right to Doubleday.[9]

Works publishedEdit

  • The Adventure Girls (3 volumes, 1936)
  • Arden Blake (3 volumes, 1934)
  • Beverly Gray (8 volumes, 1934–1937)
  • Girl Scouts Mystery Series (6 volumes, 1933–1936)
  • The Girl Scouts Series (10 volumes, 1922–1925)
  • Linda Carlton (5 volumes, 1931–1933)
  • Mary Lou (3 volumes, 1935)
  • Mexican Mystery Stories for Girls (3 volumes, 1936)
  • The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Alexandre Dumas (1907)
  • Chesterfield's Letters
  • Representative Men

Source:[10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Erisman, Fred (2006). Boys' books, boys' dreams, and the mystique of flight. Fort Worth, Tex.: Texas Christian University Press. p. 28. ISBN 9780875653303.
  2. ^ Adams, Mike. The Radio Boys and Girls: Radio, Telegraph, Telephone and Wireless Adventures for Juvenile Readers, 1890–1945. pp. 6, 42–6. ISBN 9781476623450. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  3. ^ Burt, Henry Martyn & Burt, Silas Wright (October 1893). Early Days in New England: Life and Times of Henry Burt of Springfield and Some of His Descendants. Springfield, Mass.: Clark W. Bryan Company.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Gowen 2009, p. 8.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Gowen 2009, p. 9.
  6. ^ a b c d Gowen 2009, p. 10.
  7. ^ a b c Gowen 2009, p. 11.
  8. ^ Abreu 1984.
  9. ^ a b Gowen 2009, p. 12.
  10. ^ Crosson.

BibliographyEdit