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Librairie Dorbon-aîné:

An Inventory of Its Records in the Carlton Lake Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Librairie Dorbon-aîné
Title: Carlton Lake Collection of Librairie Dorbon-aîné Records
Dates: 1894-1954
Extent: 13 boxes (5.46 linear feet)
Abstract: The records chronicle the work of Louis Dorbon's bookselling firm, which began in 1900, through manuscripts and proofs of works published by Librairie Dorbon-aîné. Business records and correspondence add additional information about the 20th century French publishing firm.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-04960
Languages: Material written in English and French.
Note: We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which provided funds for the processing and cataloging of this collection.
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gifts and purchases of Carlton Lake 1969, 1970 (R4833, R5161)
Processed by: Monique Daviau, Richard Workman, and Catherine Stollar, 2004

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Organizational History

Founded in 1900 by Louis Dorbon, Librairie Dorbon-aîné entered the bookselling trade with a remarkable initial stock of 400,000 volumes. As both a publisher and a bookseller, Librairie Dorbon-aîné contributed numerous influential works to the early 20th century French literary scene. Louis Dorbon chose the name Dorbon-aîné to differentiate himself from his younger brother, Lucien Dorbon, who entered the bookselling business about one year after Louis opened his Librairie.
The first works published by Librairie Dorbon-aîné were the serial publications of Petits Mémoires de Paris containing etchings by Henri Boutlet and two works by Robida titled les Vieilles Villes des Flandres and Vieilles Villes du Rhin. Librairie Dorbon-aîné thrived publishing the works of authors such as Xavier Marcel Boulestin, Maurice Des Ombiaux, Claude Farrère, Camille Saint-Saëns, and René Boylesve. Works by Jules Lemaître, Claude Debussy, Francis de Miomandre, and comtesse de Noailles were also published by Dorbon-aîné.
Although Louis Dorbon described the founding of Librairie Dorbon-aîné in 1900 in his article La Librairie Dorbon-aîné, the date Librairie Dorbon-aîné actually closed is not documented. The firm actively published books between 1900 and 1939. One of the latest, if not last, books published by the Librairie was available in 1949. Beyond 1949 no accurate record exists detailing the closure of Librairie Dorbon-aîné.


Dorbon, Louis. La Librairie Dorbon-aîné. Undated page proofs.

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, handwritten and typed manuscripts, proofs of creative works, music manuscripts, printed material, and financial, legal and publicity records document the work of bookseller and publisher Librairie Dorbon-aîné. The records are arranged in three series: I. Correspondence, 1894-1954 (5 boxes), II. Works by Authors, 1907-1939 (7.5 boxes), and III. Business Records, 1909-1932 (0.5 boxes). All materials within series are arranged alphabetically by author and/or title except as noted below.
The bulk of the collection is comprised of Series II. Works by Authors, which contains manuscripts of authors published by Librairie Dorbon-aîné. Among the influential authors represented in these records are Xavier Marcel Boulestin, Maurice Des Ombiaux, Claude Farrère, Camille Saint-Saëns, René Boylesve, Lemaître, Claude Debussy, Francis de Miomandre, and comtesse de Noailles. All stages of the publication process, as evidenced by the presence of original manuscripts, proofs with corrections, and final proofs, are well documented within the Librairie Dorbon-aîné records for some works such as Aspects sentimentaux du front Anglais (1917) and L'Amphitryon d'aujourd'hui: Introduction à la vie gourmande (1936). Some unpublished works for musical projects are also included in Series II. For example, two projects concerning Schumann and Beethoven styled after Trois Manuscript par Chopin were created but never published. Most of the music manuscripts from Caplet, Schmitt, Roger-Ducasse, and Debussy were acquired for a deluxe illustrated album on contemporary French music that was envisioned but never produced. Also present within Series II. are proofs of an unpublished article detailing the founding of Librairie Dorbon-aîné by Louis Dorbon and a few pieces of correspondence from Marc Pincherle, an associate of Librairie Dorbon-aîné.
Series I. Correspondence is subdivided into letters written and received by the firm and a small group of personal correspondence received by Louis Dorbon. This series documents the firm's business with authors and other publishers. Notable correspondents include Maurice Darantière, Xavier Marcel Boulestin, and Ernest Benn Ltd..
Series III. constitutes the smallest portion of the papers but provides crucial information about the internal workings of the Librairie. Included in this series are original designs for the Librairie Dorbon-aîné logo and a dossier of subscription requests for Dorbon-aîné's elite book club, Les bibliophiles fantaisistes.

Related Material

The library of the Librairie Dorbon-aîné was also purchased by Carlton Lake and donated to the Ransom Center's Library where it forms part of the Carlton Lake Collection.

Index Terms


Boulestin, X. Marcel (Xavier Marcel), 1878-1943.
Darantière, Maurice.
Ernest Benn Ltd.
Farrère, Claude, 1876-1957.
Guitry, Sacha, 1885-1957.
Noailles, Anna Elisabeth de Brancovan, comtesse de, 1876-1933.
Pincherle, Marc, 1888-1974.


Publishers and publishing--France.
Modernism (Literature)--United States.
Booksellers and bookselling--France--Paris--History--20th century.

Document Types

Galley proofs.
Financial records.

Librairie Dorbon-aîné Records--Folder List