Belknap Press Annotated Bibliography

Proposal Guidelines

Harvard University Press publishes thoughtful books for both scholars and educated general readers in history, philosophy, literature, classics, religion, law, economics, public policy, physical and life sciences, technology, history of science, behavioral sciences, and education, along with reference works in a wide range of fields.

All HUP books are published in English, with translation rights licensed to publishers in other countries.

We do not publish original fiction, original poetry, religious inspiration or revelation, cookbooks, guidebooks, children’s books, art and photography books, Festschriften, conference volumes, unrevised dissertations, or autobiographies.

What Should Be in a Proposal?

Publishing involves a matching process between the particular strengths and styles of a manuscript and those of a publisher. Your proposal should give our editors and marketing staff a clear and detailed idea of what your book will be about. The proposal should tell the Press staff why you are writing this particular book at this particular time in your own career, and more important, in the development of your field.

Questions to consider as you prepare a book proposal:
  • What problems are you setting out to solve?
  • What confusions do you wish to clarify?
  • What previously unknown or unfortunately neglected story are you planning to tell?
  • How is this book different from all other books?
  • Why does that matter? To whom?
Possible audiences are as variable as publishers. Consider:
  • Is your book for specialists in your field?
  • Does your book focus on a particular area within a larger field?
  • Is it a book that students might use, and if so, students at what level?
  • Is it a “trade” book? That is, one intended for general readers, those without specialized knowledge in your area?

Whatever your answer, consider carefully the kind of approach, terminology, level of explanation, and scholarly apparatus that your book will need to make it most compelling for your ideal reader.

Successful proposals usually include:
  • A narrative description of the proposed book’s themes, arguments, goals, place in the literature, and expected audience. State your argument concisely and clearly.
  • A comparison of the proposed book to other books now available that are intended for the audience you seek. (If you are writing a specialized monograph, it is not especially illuminating to compare it to a popularized treatment of the same subject.)
  • A summary of your own professional experience, past publications, and relevant research, aimed at explaining why you are the right author for the book you intend to write.
  • An annotated table of contents, with a brief description of the contents of each chapter.
  • An estimate of the probable length of the book, the illustrations (if any) that you wish to include, the time it will take you to write it, and any possible complicating factors.

Full chapters should not be sent with the initial proposal, but if some have already been written, say so in your cover letter. You should also note whether any chapters, or substantive sections of chapters, have been previously published.

For more advice, we recommend:

Who Reads a Proposal?

Proposals are most likely to be read quickly when they are addressed (by name) to the appropriate acquisitions editor. Read more about our editors’ areas of interest.

Editors may decline to pursue a proposed book. They may encourage the author to provide more information or send in the chapters that are already written. They may consult with outside reviewers—and they will certainly confer with other editors and members of the Press staff—before making any formal commitment. Bear in mind, then, that your proposal may be read not only by editors but by specialists in marketing and production, and answer any questions they may have (Why are 50 b/w photographs necessary?) as clearly as you can.

How Should a Proposal Be Submitted?

Please send all proposals by email to [Email Address] (Attention: Editorial).

Please note that Harvard University Press discourages cold calls. Email is the best method of submission to ensure that your proposal is reviewed in a timely manner.

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Annotated Editions

Harvard University Press is pleased to offer these deluxe, oversized editions of classic works. Each of these titles is edited by an established scholar whose critical commentary and contextual notes help the reader to fully engage with the text. These beautiful books are designed to last for generations.

“Harvard University Press’s fine series of annotated editions…[demonstrates] just how much more there is to know, even (perhaps particularly) about long-loved favorites. Among the volumes to appear thus far in the literary part of the series (which also features historical documents), Harvard has brought out an almost-complete set of Jane Austen’s novels (to be concluded with an edition of Mansfield Park in the fall of 2016), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s works, and Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest. These annotated editions provide a richness of reading experience akin to a feast: not just the main course of the text, but a dazzling array of ‘side dishes’ as well.”—Jennifer L. Holberg, Books & Culture

Little Women

An Annotated Edition

Louisa May Alcott, edited by Daniel Shealy

More than a delightful girls’ book, this richly annotated and illustrated edition of Little Women will instruct new and returning readers, young and old. Alcott scholar Daniel Shealy illuminates the novel’s engagement with social equality, reform movements, the Civil War, friendship, love, loss, and the central question: How does one grow up well?


An Annotated Edition

Jane Austen, edited by Bharat Tandon

Perhaps the most accomplished of Austen’s novels, Emma is also, after Pride and Prejudice, her most popular. Film and television adaptations testify to the world’s enduring affection for headstrong, often misguided Emma Woodhouse and her romantic schemes. Emma: An Annotated Edition is an illuminating gift edition that will be treasured by readers.

Mansfield Park

An Annotated Edition

Jane Austen, edited by Deidre Shauna Lynch

In her notes and introduction to this final volume in Harvard’s annotated Austen series, Deidre Shauna Lynch outlines the critical disagreements Mansfield Park has sparked and suggests that Austen’s design in writing the novel was to highlight, not downplay, the conflicted feelings its plot and heroine can inspire.

Northanger Abbey

An Annotated Edition

Jane Austen, edited by Susan J. Wolfson

In her introduction to Northanger Abbey, Susan Wolfson proposes that Austen’s most underappreciated, most playful novel is about fiction itself and how it can take possession of everyday understandings. Wolfson’s running commentary will engage new readers and delight scholars.


An Annotated Edition

Jane Austen, edited by Robert Morrison

This richly illustrated annotated edition brings unmatched vitality to Austen’s most passionate and introspective love story. Commentary alongside the text explains difficult allusions, while the Introduction explicates the novel’s central conflicts as well as its relationship to Austen’s other works and to those of her contemporaries.

Pride and Prejudice

An Annotated Edition

Jane Austen, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks

Pride and Prejudice was in Austen’s lifetime her most popular novel, and it was the author’s personal favorite. Adapted many times to the screen and stage, and the inspiration for numerous imitations, it remains today her most widely read book. In this beautifully illustrated and annotated edition, scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks instructs the reader in a larger appreciation of the novel’s enduring pleasures and provides analysis of Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, and all the characters who inhabit their world.

Sense and Sensibility

An Annotated Edition

Jane Austen, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks

Patricia Meyer Spacks guides readers to a deeper appreciation of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood as they experience love, romance, and heartbreak. Sense and Sensibility: An Annotated Edition includes numerous color reproductions that vividly recreate Austen’s world. This will be an especially welcome addition to the library of any Janeite.

The Annotated Wuthering Heights

Emily Brontë, edited by Janet Gezari

Illustrated with many color images, The Annotated Wuthering Heights provides those encountering the novel for the first time, as well as those returning to it, with a wide array of contexts in which to read Emily Brontë’s romantic masterpiece, which has been called the most beautiful, most profoundly violent love story of all time.

The Annotated Origin

A Facsimile of the First Edition of On the Origin of Species

Charles Darwin, with introduction and notes by James T. Costa

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is one of the most important and yet least read scientific works in the history of science. The Annotated Origin is a facsimile of the first edition of 1859, and is accompanied by James T. Costa’s marginal annotations, drawing on his extensive experience with Darwin’s ideas in the field, lab, and classroom. This edition makes available an accessible and practical resource for anyone reading Origin for the first time or for those who want to reread it with the insights and perspective that a working biologist can provide.

The Annotated Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson, edited by David Mikics, with a foreword by Phillip Lopate

Emerson remains one of America’s least understood writers, having spawned neither school nor follower. Those wishing to discover or reacquaint themselves with Emerson’s writings but who have not known where or how to begin will not find a better starting place or more reliable guide than David Mikics in this richly illustrated volume.

The Wind in the Willows

An Annotated Edition

Kenneth Grahame, edited by Seth Lerer

Begun as a series of stories told by Kenneth Grahame to his six-year-old son, The Wind in the Willows has become one of the most beloved works of children’s literature ever written. Now, in Seth Lerer’s annotated edition, readers can enjoy a larger appreciation of the novel’s charms and serene narrative magic. Anyone who has read and loved The Wind in the Willows will want to own and cherish this beautiful gift edition. Those coming to the novel for the first time, or returning to it with their own children, will not find a better, more sensitive guide than Seth Lerer.

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

The Complete Annotated Edition

Ulysses S. Grant, edited by John F. Marszalek with David S. Nolen and Louie P. Gallo

This is the first complete annotated edition of Grant’s memoirs, fully representing the great military leader’s thoughts on his life and times through the end of the Civil War—including the antebellum era and the Mexican War—and his invaluable perspective on battlefield decision making. An introduction contextualizes Grant’s life and significance.

The Annotated Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, edited by Harold Holzer and Thomas A. Horrocks

No U.S. president has faced the problems Lincoln confronted, nor expressed himself with such eloquence on issues of great moment. Harold Holzer and Thomas Horrocks explore his writings on slavery, emancipation, racial equality, the legality of secession, civil liberties in wartime, and the meaning of the terrible suffering caused by the Civil War.

The Annotated Poe

Edgar Allan Poe, with introduction and notes by Kevin J. Hayes, and foreword by William Giraldi

Edgar Allan Poe is perhaps America’s most famous writer. Yet he remains misunderstood, his works easily confused with the legend of a troubled genius. In this annotated edition of tales and poems, Kevin J. Hayes debunks the Poe myth, enables a larger appreciation of Poe’s career and varied achievements, and investigates his weird afterlives.

The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence

Jack N. Rakove

Here are the two founding documents of the United States of America: the Declaration of Independence (1776), our great revolutionary manifesto, and the Constitution (1787–88), in which “We the People” forged a new nation and built the framework for our federal republic. These documents have come to define us as a people. Now Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Jack Rakove serves as a guide to these texts, providing historical contexts and offering interpretive commentary.

The Annotated Frankenstein

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, edited by Susan J. Wolfson and Ronald Levao

Published in 1818, Frankenstein has spellbound readers for generations and has inspired numerous retellings and sequels in every medium, making the myth familiar even to those who have never read a word of Mary Shelley’s novel. This freshly annotated, illustrated edition illuminates the novel and its electrifying afterlife.

On the Organic Law of Change

A Facsimile Edition and Annotated Transcription of Alfred Russel Wallace’s Species Notebook of 1855–1859

Alfred Russel Wallace, with introduction and notes by James T. Costa

Marking Alfred Russel Wallace’s death in 1913, James Costa presents in facsimile, with transcription and annotations, the “Species Notebook” of 1855–1859. These extensive, never-before-published notes from Wallace’s Malay expedition reveal the travels, trials, and genius of the co-discoverer of natural selection—Darwin’s equal among pioneers of evolution.

The Annotated Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde, edited by Nicholas Frankel

The Annotated Importance of Being Earnest provides facing-page commentary on Oscar Wilde’s greatest play. Editor Nicholas Frankel highlights the play’s relation to the author’s homosexuality and to the climate of sexual repression that led to Wilde’s imprisonment just months after the play’s London opening in 1895.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

An Annotated, Uncensored Edition

Oscar Wilde, edited by Nicholas Frankel

The Picture of Dorian Gray altered the way Victorians understood the world they inhabited, heralding the end of a repressive era. Now, more than 120 years after Wilde handed it over to his publisher, Wilde’s uncensored typescript is published here for the first time, in an annotated, extensively illustrated edition.

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