Presumably, Bartlett spent much of 1846 and 1847 preparing texts and finishing his sketches for Forty Days in the Desert and The Nile Boat. He did, however, visit Wales and Monmouthshire in 1846 to do six illustrations for The Tourist in Wales, published in 1851, and 22 engravings and seven woodcuts for Vol. II of William Beattie's new series, The Castles and Abbeys of England.

In 1848 Great Britain suffered another severe economic depression, described in the Preface of Sharpe's London Magazine, Vol. 6, March to June, 1848, as a:

time when, owing to the extraordinary events daily taking place around us, a depression such as we scarcely remember to have heard of before, and which could not fail also to have its effect upon literature, has been perceptible in all branches of the trade.

This depression apparently forced George Virtue to rethink his whole book production program. One of his first moves in 1848 was to send his second son, James Sprent Virtue, to America to expand the market for Virtue books in the United States and Canada. By 1850 James was head of the New York City branch office. By 1852 he had established about 15 additional branches in the eastern United States and the major cities of Canada, thus presumably compensating for any losses suffered by his father's firm in Great Britain.

In 1848 George Virtue also decided to enter the field of art journalism. He purchased a publication called The Art Union, founded by Hodgson and Graves in 1839 as a cheap organ for the use of the print trade. This had been purchased by Chapman and Hall in 1847 and was livened up by the use of steel engravings instead of woodcut illustrations. At the time, this journal was edited by Samuel Carter Hall. In 1849, Virtue renamed the magazine The Art Journal. He appointed S.C. Hall as editor, and within a few years, The Art Journal was the premier art publication in Great Britain.

In addition, Virtue bought or obtained a controlling interest in another journal called Sharpe's London Magazine in 1848. This had been issued for some years by J.B. Sharpe as a standard type of literary and cultural magazine. In 1848, however, it was being published by Arthur Hall. Whether Hall's new venture was in financial trouble then is not known, but George Virtue profited in any case because he now had an opportunity, in 1849, to solidify his relations with the Hall family by creating a new firm called Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co.


This online book was created by Pat Eaves-Brown for Archives & Special Collections. Print version © The University of Guelph, 1997. Digital version © The University of Guelph, 2000. Your comments are welcome.