Steady sellers like The Wide, Wide World were often printed with metal plates made using stereotyping, electrotyping, or lithography. With this method, printers did not have to store standing moveable type in order to print new versions of the novel. Based on comparisons of all known versions, there are fifty different plate sets from which the Wide, Wide World was printed. Versions of the novel printed from the same plate set have the same number of pages, and text begins and ends in the same place on each page. Differences among plate sets are sometimes substantial, including variant chapters, character names, and excised text. This chronological list provides access to each edition of the novel printed from a specific set of plates, along with the basic textual characteristics of each plate set.

Plate Set 2, Published by Sampson Low, London, April 8, 1852

First Page of Text of Volume 2 of the 1852 Sampson Low Reprint

Plate Set 8, Published by H.G. Bohn, London, January 28, 1853

London publisher H. G. Bohn used this plate set to print four editions from 1853 to 1854. The plate set’s most distinctive feature is a unique running header describing the action on each page of text.

Features

  • One volume
  • 519 pages
  • Chapter epigraphs throughout
  • Title is included on the first page of text
  • Continuous chapter breaks, with a ruled line between
  • No chapter titles on chapter breaks
  • 10 point font