The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition is a project that edits the 140+ versions of Susan Warner’s nineteenth-century bestselling American novel The Wide, Wide World. From its initial publication in 1850, the novel was a transatlantic success with sales of more than 225,000 copies in its first decade. By 1950, publishers in the United States and the United Kingdom had issued the novel using fifty-three different sets of plates with over forty-seven sets of illustrations. The enduring popularity of The Wide, Wide World, therefore, provides a rare opportunity for scholars and students to explore how representations of American culture at home and abroad changed over this hundred-year period.
Scholars, archivists, designers, developers, and students at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Harvard University, Skidmore College, the University of Virginia, and the Constitution Island Association are working together to expose the textual and visual variants among the reprints. The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition also contextualizes changes in the multiple sets of illustrations and explores the readership of this transatlantically influential text.
This blog is a space where those working on the project report progress and share experiences. We hope to convey the topsy-turvy trials, tribulations, and triumphs involved in the process of preserving historical texts in digital environments.