AUDSLEY, William James and George Ashdown AUDSLEY. Popular Dictionary of Architecture And The Allied Arts. A Work Of Reference For The Architect, Builder, Sculptor, Decorative Artist, And General Student. Henry Sotheran & Co., [1879-].
Royal 8vo. 3 volumes. Publisher's cloth, triple blind-ruled borders, gilt lettering to upper boards and spine; [x] + pp. 287 +  + iv; [vi] + pp. 294 + iii; [viii] + pp. 294 + iii, all three volumes illustrated throughout.
Intended to cover every matter relating to architecture and allied subjects, the present volumes were all that was realised before publication was abandoned. Two manuscript letters, tipped-in to the front of volume I, give some idea of the problems related to the publication of the dictionary. The first letter from William Audsley to a Reverend Lewis, dated November 19th 1890, concerns the projected publication of a fourth volume of the Dictionary.
"Dear Sir/ Absence from home in the first place and consequent arrears of work in the second must be my apology for so long leaving your letters unanswered. My Dictionary of Architecture has, through certain matters connected with the printers, been stopped for the time, but it is my intention to resume its issue at the earliest possible time. Vol 4 is far on and no exertion shall be spared on my part to complete the work. The matter has been both a great disappointment and a great loss to me, as you can understand. You have a very fine library and I think you would do well to secure a copy of my large book on Japanese Art, which is allowed to be the finest work in full colours ever issued in England - In America the book was sold by Scribner at $41 and $82 a copy. Only about 20 copies now remain, and the work - like my Keramic Art of Japan - will advance to a high figure. I send you a prospectus by this post and also one of a very fine book just on the point of publication. I also send you a pamphlet on the New Theory of Sound which is causing much discussion in the musical world here…. I send a prospectus of my forthcoming work on the Organ."
The second letter, dated November 22nd, 1890 from Henry Sotheran Ltd to the Reverend Lewis refers to Audsley's dilatory nature and indicates that it is unlikely that the Dictionary will be ever completed. "We beg to acknowledge with thanks your esteemed favour of the 20th instant and your enclosure of Mr. Audsley's letter which we return herewith; also to thank you for your reply to that gentleman, which however we fear will not cause him much discomfort. His talk as to continuing the Dictionary is illusory, indeed, as it is years since he has communicated with us on the subject, which we on our part do not intend to reopen now. Mr. Audsley's "Illusions" have unfortunately proved realities to us, as through, perhaps, unwise confidence in him, we have lost rather heavily. The subscribers also have strong cause for feeling grieved. Seeing the unusually profitable [sic] result of the affair with Audsley it is a pity he does not feel called on to at least profess some apology. Much regretting your own disappointment and trouble in the matter....". Fine association set with letters describing the unfortunate history of this ill-fated publishing venture.