Historical geographers increasingly address editorial networks as an important element in contextual and situated readings of knowledge production. Recent work has shown that large publishing houses, such as Murray in Britain, Hachette in France and Perthes in Germany, played a primary role in shaping geographical knowledge. This paper’s contribution is an analysis of the collaboration between Élisée Reclus (1830–1905) and Hachette over the Nouvelle Géographie universelle (NGU), a classic work in French geography that encompassed nineteen volumes between 1876 and 1894. Drawing upon archival sources, such as the published and unpublished correspondence between Reclus, his collaborators and the publishers, I argue that Reclus’ negotiations with this mainstream publishing house were part of a political strategy that was deployed by early anarchist geographers to disseminate their views among broader audiences than just specialist and militant groups. This was a successful bargain for both sides, as there were approximately twenty thousand copies of each volume of the NGU printed. To understand this strategy of public communication and political influence, I examine the international group of anarchist geographers who were involved in Reclus’ editorial endeavour within the wider context of Hachette’s editorial networks. This involves situating the knowledge they produced in two locations : Paris, where Hachette’s headquarters were established, and Clarens, the Swiss village to which Reclus was exiled, and where he worked with collaborators such as Pyotr Kropotkin and Léon Metchnikoff to establish the ‘centre of calculation’ for his large encyclopaedia.
French universal geographies ; Publishing industry ; Print culture ; Anarchist geographies ; Mobilities of knowledge