I mentioned a bit earlier that in the spring of 1997 I could not find a copy of Perkin Warbeck—well, not one that was reasonably priced (viz., a copy that I could afford). So I had to use inter-library loan. Times have changed. The advent of e-books and print-on-demand have now made so many things accessible that were inaccessible then.
I just searched on Amazon.com, using “Shelley, Mary” and “Perkin Warbeck”—and, immediately, up popped a wide array of formats—nearly twenty different “publications.” On Kindle, for example, I can get all six of Mary’s novels for 99 cents. And there are myriads of print-on-demand copies, as well. And on Google I just found an assortment of e-texts of the novel, as well. Free. (Link to one of them.)
But back in the late 1990s I was, like a junkie, buying actual books by and about Mary Shelley—books about her family, her acquaintances, her times, her culture. Hell, I have a thick book about carriages in the Regency era. Another about burial practices. Others about London. And on and on and on and on.
Let’s state the obvious: Money was surging out more quickly than it was trickling in. But, heedless, I realized in the late 1990s that I “needed” to buy the eight -volume scholarly set of Mary’s novels and travel books, published by Pickering & Chatto in London. (See picture below.) I just checked our home library database and discovered that I paid $819.99 for the set. An irresponsible purchase. I was living on my teacher’s retirement and Joyce’s professor’s salary at Hiram College. Debts were mounting.
So by 2001 I knew I was going to have to do something. So I took a part-time job teaching English at Western Reserve Academy. And, yes, there was, at first, a mercenary motive (I can pay off my book debts!), but it was not very long before I fell in love with teaching all over again, and the next thing I knew it was June 2011, and I was retiring—again. And a decade had flown by like a songbird that lingered too long in northeastern Ohio and was winging his way south with all the desperate urgency of self-preservation. (I know: overlong and extended and forced metaphor. Tough.)
|my set of Shelley novels|
 I cannot find the exact date I pulled that expensive trigger. Sigh. Also, I just checked on ABE.com and could not find a complete set currently for sale (December 30, 2016). You can still buy them directly from Pickering & Chatto: $116 per volume!