An early Spanish version of Thomas Atkinson’s book on Siberia and Central Asia

atkinson-in-spanish1                 atkinson-in-spanish2

The two pages above come from a Spanish book, Nuevo Viajero Universal, published in Madrid in 1860. The first is the title page to the second volume (of five), which is a compendium of journeys of exploration from the first half of the nineteenth century. The first essay in this volume is a precis of Thomas Witlam Atkinson’s book Oriental and Western Siberia, which had been published two years previously. In total the precis runs to  73 pages, complete with five illustrations.

As I mentioned in my recent article about plagiarism, Thomas was more sinned against than a sinner. It is very unlikely that the publishers of this Spanish version of his book paid any royalties to his publisher. The same is true for the German, French and Russian editions that were published soon after Thomas’ own book was issued. As with the others, the publishers used local illustrators to make copies of the illustrations contained in Thomas’ book. As you can see below, they are much inferior to those that appeared in the official version.

atkinson-in-spanish-pl3      sultan-souk-and-family

The picture on the left is a woodcut from the Spanish book, whilst the picture on the right is a colour lithograph from Thomas’ own book.

However, it is clear from the many pirated versions of Thomas’ book that appeared in the 1860s that there was enormous interest in the journeys conducted by him and Lucy over the course of nearly seven years. His books were the first to bring European readers a sense of the geography and way of life in Siberia and Central Asia.

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