The topic of my critical analysis is the series of which George Barr McCutcheon's Truxton King is a part of. The series consists of a group of four novels about the mythical Balkan Kingdom, Graustark; entitled
Graustark, Beverly of Graustark, Truxton King, and the Prince of Graustark. The novels were all written by Mr. McCutcheon for the purpose of bringing romance back into the lives of the readers. The first novel in the series, Graustark was McCutcheon's
most successful title and it sold 1500000 copies (Tebbel, 1975, 232-233). The other novels in the series sold fewer copies but McCutcheon wrote them as a continuation of the story started with Graustark. Truxton King was the third novel in the series an
d it was published in 1909. During the course of my research, I learned about things such as the reception history of the title, McCutcheon's life, and how Truxton King was advertised as a continuation of the series.
The novels in the series except Graustark (published by Stone & Kimball) were published by Dodd, Mead, and Company. The reason for the publication of most of the Graustark series by this company was that after Stone & Kimball collapsed, McCutcheon forme
d a very close personal friendship with Frank Dodd, the company's president (Tebbel, 1975, 233) . The company was able to make millions of dollars of dollars off this friendship because it had the publishing rights to subsequent novels written by McCutc
heon. When Truxton King came out, Dodd, Mead, and Company used the fact that it was a continuation of the Graustark series to promote it as a best seller. Advertisements from the 1909 Publisher's weekly stated things such as "over a million people hav
e read Graustark, can you figure out a much better seller than another Graustark story, written with all Mr. McCutcheon's old time sparkle and vim?"(Publisher's Weekly, Sept 25, 1909, page 671). By promoting Truxton King as an exciting continuation of
the Graustark series, the publisher was ensuring that both the company and McCutcheon would continue to add to the monetary profits gained from the sale of the other titles in the series.
The concept of a title becoming part of a series often develops when publishers find themselves unexpectively successful with a book that was not originally intended to be part of a series. This happened in the case of Graustark selling a million and a
half copies and given the success of the first book, the author and publishers will naturally want to build on the success of the first book by producing continuations of the story line. Truxton King followed Beverly of Graustark as a continuation to th
e story started in Graustark. Series are also sometimes planned in advance because publishers can then publish more books which might otherwise fail (Unwin, 1926, 322). This fact follows the concept of the fact that readers respond to the idea of contin
uity. Publishers often include books in a series even if they don not quite fit into what the series is about because the intention on the part of the publisher is to give every title a better chance to sell. Publishers are in the business of making mon
ey off the books they sell so they often promote books as being part of a series to help ensure they sell better. Dodd, Mead and Company followed this policy when they promoted Truxton King as being a part of the Graustark series to help it sell better.
As a result of this promotion, the title did make #6 on the best seller list for 1909, but as I discovered during the course of my research not all best sellers last long on the market.
George Barr McCutcheon followed a specific style of writing when he wrote Truxton King and the other titles in the Graustark series. Mr. McCutcheon writes to entertain not only himself but also the readers who pick up one of his novels. He states that
as long as he is entertained during the course of writing a chapter, he is satisfied with his work. The plot of the story is the most important aspect of McCutcheon's writing style and the characters in the story are there to serve the plot (Writer, Nov
1908). His books are written to give him joy and provide relaxation to readers during the course of the time they are reading a McCutcheon novel. The fact that McCutcheon liked to travel a great deal also affected the way he wrote a novel. Before he s
tarted writing he had the title of the novel chosen and the characters belonging together from the beginning. Having the characters already well matched avoided plot-twisting that might have resulted if the characters became disassociated with each other
during the course of the story (Writer, Nov 1908). Truxton King and the other novels in the series played to the idea of romanticizing world travel to remote reaches of the Earth. In Truxton King the story describes how a young American gentleman from
New York travels around the world seeking romance. The young man does not find any romance until he reaches the Balkan Kingdom of Graustark, which is depicted as being the natural home of romance and adventure. McCutcheon wrote Truxton King and the othe
r books of the Graustark series for the purpose of providing romantic entertainment to readers. Some of the writing methods used by George Barr McCutcheon may have developed from his days as a newspaper writer in Lafayette Indiana (Kunitz, 1942, 869). A
s a newspaper writer, he had to develop a writing style that got the readers' attention because if his writing style did not get their attention, the newspaper would not sell as well. Writing attention getting newspaper articles was a good way for McCut
cheon to learn how to write to entertain readers and he carried this style over when he started writing novels full time. The overall purpose of George Barr McCutcheon's writing was to do a good job in producing a story so people will want to read the n
ovel. Although many of his books were highly successful his best known novels were the ones in the Graustark series that included Truxton King.
His novels were so popular that some of the stories were produced in other medians. One book that was not part of Graustark series, Brewster's Millions (1902), was made into a successful play by the company Winchell Smith (1906) and this story was film
ed a number of times. Truxton King also had a play book produced based on McCutcheon's story. The company, Rumsey Play Co., produced a play book in 1912 entitled "Truxton King" that was supported by McCutcheon's story of the same name. Some of McCutc
heon's other books were also serialized so that people could keep following the story line in the novel with new adventures for the characters. When novels are popular best sellers, the production of other formats based on the stories in the novels, als
o serves as a way for the author and original publisher to make more money. When the company that produced the play book based on Truxton King, they had to obtain permission from McCutcheon and Dodd, Mead and Company, to use the copyrighted material in t
The Graustark series, including Truxton King, was produced to fill in the need for romance in the world that McCutcheon thought was needed. He had felt that society had lost the romantic feeling that was needed for life to be enjoyable. The success of
the Graustark series helped validate McCutcheon's idea that writing a series of novels based on romance and adventure in an exotic little kingdom had great appeal to readers who's lives more mundane. This appeal produced substantial revenues for both t
he author and publisher when Graustark sold 1500000 copies, Beverly of Graustark sold 315000 copies (Tebbel, 1975, 232-233) and Truxton King made #6 on the 1909 best seller list. Producing a series often appeals to readers because they like the idea of c
ontinuity in a story. This makes the market appeal for an individual novel greater if it is a continuation in a successful series as Truxton King was. The publisher used this appeal to advertise that Truxton King was a fabulous continuation of the Graus
tark series. Series publication history is one of the ways that the history of book publishing can be studied because of the appeal the production of a successful series has on the book selling market.
1. Tebbel, John. A History of Book Publishing in the United States: vol 2 the Expansion of an Industry, 1865-1919, New York: R. R. Bowker Co., 1975.
2. Unwin, Stanley. Truth About Publishing
London: George Allen & Unwin LTD., 1926.
3. Publishers' Weekly, "Truxton King is Selling: this is the Story"
No. 1965, Sept 25, 1909, page 671.