Henry Vizetelly

Henry Richard Vizetelly (30 July 1820 – 1 January 1894) was an English publisher and writer. He started the publications Pictorial Times and Illustrated Times, wrote several books while working in Paris and Berlin as correspondent for the Illustrated London News, and in 1886 founded a publishing house in London, Vizetelly & Company.[1]

Henry Richard Vizetelly
Henry Vizetelly, 1863 portrait.jpg
A photograph of Vizetelly in 1863
Born30 July 1820
Died1 January 1894
OccupationPublisher & writer

Life and careerEdit

Vizetelly was born in London, the son of a printer. He was early apprenticed as a wood-engraver, and one of his first woodblocks was a portrait of Old Parr.[2] He was in San Francisco, California, when gold was discovered in 1849. His book California (written under the pseudonym "J. Tyrwhittt Brooks") recounts his adventures for four months in the gold fields.[3] In his 1893 autobiography, Glances Back Through Seventy Years, he admits it was an elaborate hoax, having never left London and wrote the book in just a few short weeks.

In 1843, encouraged by the success of the Illustrated London News, Vizetelly, with his brother James Thomas Vizetelly (1817–1897) and Andrew Spottiswoode (1787–1866), started the Pictorial Times, which was published successfully for several years. In 1855, in partnership with the bookseller David Bogue (1812-1856), he started a three-penny paper called the Illustrated Times, which four years later was merged in the Penny Illustrated Paper. His other brother, Frank Vizetelly (1830–1883) was a war artist for both sides during the American Civil War and went to Egypt as war correspondent for the Illustrated London News. He was never heard of after the massacre of Hicks Pasha's army in Kordofan.[2][4]

In 1865 Vizetelly became Paris correspondent for the Illustrated London News. During the years he remained in Paris he published several books: Paris in Peril (1882), The Story of the Diamond Necklace (1867) and a free translation of Marius Topin's L'homme au masque de fer (1870) under the title The Man in the Iron Mask.[2]

In 1872 Vizetelly was transferred to Berlin, where he wrote Berlin under the New Empire (1879). In 1886 he established a publishing house in London, Vizetelly and Company, launching the Mermaid Series of reprints of English Elizabethan, Jacobean and Restoration drama,[5] and issuing numerous translations of French and Russian authors, beginning in 1886 with the first English translation of Flaubert's Madame Bovary, made by Eleanor Marx. In 1888 he was prosecuted for obscene libel for his translation of Zola's La Terre (The Soil), and was fined £100; and when he reissued Zola's works in 1889 he was again prosecuted, fined £200, and imprisoned for three months.[2]

In 1893 he wrote a volume of autobiographical reminiscence called Glances Back through Seventy Years, a graphic picture of literary Bohemia in Paris and London between 1840 and 1870.[2][6][7] He died on 1 January 1894 at "Heatherlands", Tilford, near Farnham in Surrey.

Henry Vizetelly's interest in wines led to the creation of several books. The Wines of the World Characterized & Classed: with some particulars respecting the beers of Europe was published in 1875 and Facts About Champagne and Other Sparkling Wines Collected During Numerous Visits to the Champagne and Other Viticultural Districts of France, and the Principal Remaining Wine-Producing Countries of Europe was published in 1879. He was Wine Juror for Great Britain at the Vienna and Paris Exhibitions of 1873 and 1878. In 1882 he published A History of Champagne: with notes on the other sparkling wines of France.[citation needed]

He had four sons by his first wife,[8] notably Ernest Alfred Vizetelly (1853–1922) who reworked some of his father's Zola translations and published these bowdlerized versions in the 1890s. By his second wife, Elizabeth Anne Ansell, he had a daughter and a son, Frank Horace Vizetelly (1864–1938), who was a lexicographer, etymologist and editor.

Vizetelly was appointed knight of the Order of Franz Joseph.[9]


  1. ^ Denise Merkle, "Vizetelly & Company as (ex)change agent: Towards the modernization of the British publishing industry", In: Milton, John and Paul Bandia (eds), Agents of Translation, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2009. vi, pp. 85–105. DOI: 10.1075/btl.81.05mer.
  2. ^ a b c d e   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Vizetelly, Henry". Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 165.
  3. ^ California by Henry Vizetelly under the pseudonym "J. Tyrwhitt Brooks": audio recording at Librivox.org
  4. ^ Roth, Mitchel P. (1997). "Vizetelly, Frank". Historical Dictionary of War Journalism. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 328–329. ISBN 0-313-29171-3.
  5. ^ Mermaid Series, http://seriesofseries.owu.edu. Retrieved on 28 November 2016.
  6. ^ Vizetelly, Henry (1893). Glances back through seventy years.
  7. ^ Hawkins, Frederick (25 November 1893). "Review of Glances back through Seventy Years by Henry Vizetelly". The Academy. 44 (1125): 455–456.
  8. ^ "Obituary Notice of Frank H. Vizetelly" Archived 2010-08-06 at the Wayback Machine from Dictionary of American Biography
  9. ^ Title page of A History of Champagne: with notes on the other sparkling wines of France, 1882.

External linksEdit