About the James Malcolm Rymer Collection

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List of Works by Author: James Malcolm Rymer
Editors: Rebecca Nesvet and Rae X. Yan
Technical Editor: Adam McCune
Publishers: Rebecca Nesvet and Rae X. Yan
Publish Date: 2015
Freely available on a non-commercial basis

The James Malcolm Rymer Collection's internet address, Salisbury Square, was the physical address where much of James Malcolm Rymer's fiction was printed. At No. 12, Salisbury Square, the publisher Edward Lloyd kept his premises from 1843-73. The association of Lloyd's group of writers with this address gave them the name 'the Salisbury School'. The building was damaged by a fire in 1873 (precipitating Lloyd's relocation) and obliterated during the Blitz, but you can see Victorian photographs of it at the Edward Lloyd website. However, with the development of innovative open access fiction databases carrying Rymer's work, such as Price One Penny: Cheap Literature 1837-60 and the Electronic Archive, Salisbury Square has risen from the ashes. We are honored to bring two out-of-print examples of Rymer's fiction to a digital version of its original home--and to your home, too.


This collection is a work in progress and, as such, subject to continual modification, evolution, and revision. Please pardon instances where information or content is missing as we continue to build out our collection.

Mission Statement

A prolific author of 'penny bloods' and 'dreadfuls', James Malcolm Rymer is credited with inventing the enduring pseudo-historical villain Sweeney Todd. Rymer also made major interventions in British fictional representations of nautical life and Victorian transoceanic imperialism. The James Malcolm Rymer Collection aims to recover this influential and engaging author's attributed texts and the genre of the 'penny blood' for scholarly and general readers. To these ends, the Collection will consist of open access, intellectually accessible digital editions of selected fiction by and/or attributed to James Malcolm Rymer (1814-1884). These editions will be published at Price One Penny Editions. The Collection will reveal Rymer's surprisingly nuanced writing's subtexts, historical contexts, and potential modern applications. Along with the Price One Penny edition of The Mysteries of the Inquisition, the James Malcolm Rymer Collection will serve editors of succeeding Price One Penny Editions as an exemplar. It also aims to showcase new approaches and the application of best practices in digital documentary editing of illustrated fiction and serials.

Selection Statement

The collection will consist of:

  1. critical editions of penny fiction composed by or attributed to James Malcolm Rymer,
  2. diplomatic transcriptions and facsimiles of any holograph manuscripts composed by Rymer,
  3. and transcriptions of archival materials, photographic reproductions of images, and original digital visualizations, including maps, that help to contextualize Rymer's fiction.

In particular, texts attributed to Rymer that prove to have been composed in whole or part by others will be included for the light they might shed on the development of Rymer's image and the penny 'blood' genre. Selections in the fiction genre will appear as diplomatic transcriptions, with versioning to reveal the texts' evolution. Engravings and 'gutter advertisements' will appear in photographic facsimiles. When extant and available to the editors for reproduction online, illustrated wrappers, detached illustrated inserts, and colored versions of engravings will also be provided as photographic facsimiles.

Annotation Statement

Identifications will consist of document-centered notes and XML tags, created in conformity with TEI-5 guidelines. They will appear as marginal notes or pop-ups. These notes will refer to the prosopography, which will be compiled in accordance with TEI-5 standards. Annotations may include permalinks to open access material. Proprietary material will not be hyperlinked.

Place tags will in future include geo-coordinates for historical places that exist at the time of tagging. Fictional places with historical street addresses or geo-locations will likewise be identified as such. Fictional places with vast or vaguely defined locations will be identified as such, and the geo-coordinates conjectured as accurately as possible.

Annotators will strive for objectivity, political neutrality, and accessibility. To these ends: Historical persons' identifications will derive when possible from the Encyclopaedia Britannica and/or the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. When this is not possible, identifications will derive from appropriate scholarly sources.

Where an annotation will likely function as a plot spoiler, this will be noted and the reader prompted to accede or refuse to continue to the relevant part of the note.

Citations will follow the TEI-5.

Authors of annotations will be credited as "annotators" using their discrete XML IDs. It is particularly important to recognize the original, scholarly contributions of student annotators. Where such annotators work in teams, the team will be credited using both XML IDs.

Transcription Statement

Published fiction will be diplomatically transcribed in XML. It will be tagged and annotated in accordance with TEI-5 guidelines. Multiple editions will be represented as versions. Where an open-access photographic facsimile or a text or part thereof exists with a stable URL, the stable URL will be hyperlinked. Silent amendation will standardize spacing by removing extraneous and distracting overuse of white space. Nonstandard spelling and obsolete language will be retained. Most typos will be identified as such in notes. However, the editors will correct rare typographical errors that could distort meaning, such as the substitution of a roman numeral VI for IV. Such corrections will be explained in notes.

Contextualizing manuscripts will be transcribed diplomatically and encoded in keeping with TEI-5 guidelines. Where manuscripts can be legibly reproduced in photographic facsimile and rights for open access publication may be obtained, they will be. Transcriptions of engravings will be stored as metadata, and will represent plate number (if any), page number (if any), caption (if any), and any legible text inscribed within the image. This text will be encoded in keeping with TEI-5 guidelines.

In keeping with the MLA Guidelines for Editors of Scholarly Editions:

  1. all transcriptions will be fully compared by an editor (at present. Rebecca Nesvet or Rae Yan) with the original documents, as distinct from a photocopy of those documents;
  2. Someone other than the original transcriber will carry out a thorough and complete check of each transcription, whether against the original or a photocopy of the original;
  3. Transcriptions will be sampled by an editor for accuracy, and the results of that sampling included in a published note.

Tagging Policy

Generally, tagging of prose fiction will follow the TEI-5 guidelines, with a few exceptions and clarifications. These include identifying words in British dialects (i.e., Hibernian English, Scots Gaelic) as foreign words. This is necessary firstly because the dialect in THE SEPOYS tends to conform to the TEI definition of foreign language ("belonging to some language other than that of the surrounding text"), and secondly, so as not to imply a racist distinction between British and non-British languages other than 'Home Counties' English. Language XML IDs derive from the IANA Registry.

Honorifics for particular characters may be added to character XML IDs as additional names, using the "addName" tag, but will not be tagged inline. Glosses will derive etymological and historical usage information, when possible, from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Image Metadata Policy

Image metadata will conform to the CDWA template endorsed by the College Art Association, but will include additional categories as appropriate:

  1. Where the composition includes a clock with readable time, this will be indicated in the metadata. Where the clock and other context allows the exact time of day (AM or PM) to be determined, this time will be indicated using the military/European time format. Time zones will not be specified because in the 1840s, they had not been standardized globally.
  2. Metadata will also identify characters and locations using person and place name tags
  3. Metadata will indicate whether an engraving accompanies or previews particular chapters or instalments, as appropriate
  4. Images will include typed captions, including place numbers.


Rebecca Nesvet is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. She earned her PhD at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2014. Awards include the International Conference on Romanticism's Lore Metzger Prize for the best graduate essay (2012). Her research is published in Women's Writing, Prism(s): Essays in Romanticism, The Keats-Shelley Journal, Literature Compass, The Review of English Studies, and Shakespearean International Yearbook. She is an Editor at the Digital Mary Russell Mitford and contributed research to Gina Luria Walker's Pickering and Chatto edition of Mary Hays' Female Biography. She also reviews crime fiction for the United Kingdom and Canada-based site Reviewing the Evidence.

Rae Yan is a PhD candidate in nineteenth-century British literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research explores the "obsession with China" in Victorian literature and how this literature influenced revolutionary impulses in early twentieth-century China. She is currently pursuing a certificate in digital humanities through UNC Chapel Hill.

Adam McCune is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, writing a dissertation on nineteenth-century British representations of childhood as a performance. He is also Project Director for the digital archive of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly (bq.blakearchive.org).

Contact Us

You may contact the James Malcolm Rymer Collection at nesvetr at uwgb.edu.