Pierre-Jules Hetzel  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Pierre-Jules Hetzel (January 15, 1814March 17, 1886) was a French editor and publisher, also known as J.P Stahl. He is best known for his extraordinarily illustrated publications of Jules Verne's novels highly prized by collectors today. Hetzel was also the principal editor of Victor Hugo and other French writers.



Born in Chartres, Hetzel studied law in Strasbourg, and founded a publishing company in 1837. He was the editor for Honoré de Balzac, whose Comédie humaine began to be published by him in 1841, for Victor Hugo and for Émile Zola. In 1843, he founded the Nouveau magasin des enfants ("New Children's Magazine"). Hetzel was a well-known republican, and in 1848 he became chief of cabinet for Alphonse de Lamartine (then minister of Foreign Affairs), and afterward for the minister of the Navy. He went into self-imposed exile in Belgium after the coup d'État which ushered in the Second Empire, and there he continued his political and editiorial activities, notably candestinely publishing Hugo's Les Châtiments, a harsh pamphlet against the Second Empire.

When the political regime was liberalised in France, he returned to France and published Proudhon and Baudelaire. A notable edition of the tales by Charles Perrault, illustrated by Gustave Doré, dates from this period. He founded the Bibliothèque illustrée des Familles ("The Family Illustrated Library"), which was renamed to Magasin d'éducation et de récréation ("Education and Entertainment Magazine") in 1864. His idea was to have scientists, authors and illustrators collaborating to create educative works. In the ambient positivism of the time, the position was not an easy one.

His fame comes mostly for his editions of the Voyages extraordinaires ("Extraordinary Journeys") by Jules Verne. The stories were originally published in biweekly chapters as a series in his Magasin. Once all chapters of a story were printed there, the story would appear in bookform. Typically this happened towards the end of the year so the books could be purchased as Christmas presents for older children. Originally, there were three editions: one economical, without illustrations; another one in small format, with a few illustrations; and a third one in a bigger format and richly illustrated. It is the last edition that is now very popular among book collectors.

Hetzel discovered Jules Verne, but scholars still debate how far Hetzel "made" Verne, or if Verne even 'made' Hetzel's publishing career. Both benefitted from the other, and their relationship went beyond that of author and publisher.

Hetzel rejected Verne's 1863 manuscript for Paris in the Twentieth Century because he thought it presented a vision of the future that was far too negative and unbelievable for contemporary audiences, though to many present-day scholars the story was remarkably accurate in its predictions. Verne locked the manuscript away and no longer wrote futuristic, dystopian stories. Paris in the Twentieth Century was first published in France in 1994.

Pierre-Jules Hetzel was also an author for the youth, under the pseudonym P.-J. Stahl. He died in Monte-Carlo in 1886. After his death, the publishing business was directed by his son, and later purchased by Hachette in 1914.

See also

For more examples of the pictures featured in the books:

Œuvres de P.-J. Stahl

Enfance et jeunesse

Pour l’âge mûr

  • Les Bonnes Fortunes parisiennes
- Les Amours d’un Pierrot
- Les Amours d’un Notaire
  • Scènes de la vie privée des animaux. Études de mœurs contemporaines
  • Histoire d’un Homme enrhumé
  • Voyage d’un Étudiant
  • L’Esprit des Femmes et les Femmes d’Esprit
  • Théorie de l’Amour et de la Jalousie. Texte sur Gallica
  • Histoire d’un Prince et d’une Princesse
  • Voyage où il vous plaira, par Tony Johannot, Alfred de Musset et P.-J. Stahl. Texte sur Gallica
  • Animaux peints par eux-mêmes (nombreux articles)
  • Le Diable à Paris recueil collectif de contes d’Honoré de Balzac, George Sand, Charles Nodier, J.P.Stahl (Hetzel), et d’articles satiriques<ref>Larousse encyclopédique en dix volumes . p .3210</ref>.
  • Les Bijoux parlants,
  • Bêtes et Gens. Texte sur Gallica

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