Jean Fort

A Biographical Sketch

Copyright © 2003 Sheryl Perry

Jean Fort's date of birth is unknown but we know his full name was Jean-Marie Fort. He was the nephew of Pierre Fort, a Paris publisher, printer, and bookseller who conducted business from shops at 46 rue du Temple (1895-1901), 19 rue du Temple (1901-1904) and in 1907, 66 Boulevard Magenta under the name of “Bergès”.1

It appears uncle and nephew had a good relationship, in the beginning. In June of 1907, Pierre suggested Jean take over part of the business and sold him a shop he owned, complete with inventory, at 73 Faubourg Poissonnière. Pierre also gave Jean a ten-year reproduction right for various titles he had previously published: Le Bréviaire de l’Amour dans le Mariage, L'École de l'Amour et L'Art d'aimer, Le Tableau de l’Amour Conjugal, etc. By 1910, however, the relationship soured over a right to publish dispute concerning Le Bréviaire de l’Amour dans le Mariage and Le Tableau de l'Amour Conjugal; with Pierre suing Jean for theft of title and Jean counter-suing his uncle for unlawful use of images.2

Jean was active in the Paris book trade from 1907 through 1939. He primarily published pseudonymously written flagellation novels (many illustrated) using a variety of publisher imprints, with 'Collection des Orties Blanches' being the one he most used for those titles. Some of his more prolific authors were Pierre Dumarchey, Jacques d'Icy (pseud. Louis Malteste), Victor Leca, and René-Michel Desergy.

Fort published under many different imprints; some openly published, some published clandestinely. From his Faubourg Poissonniere address in 1907 until c.1921 he primarily used the imprint 'Jean Fort' or 'J. Fort' but between 1910 - 1913 he also published a few books under the imprints, 'Bibliothèque des deux hémisphères' and 'Sweetgra's Quebec'. Betweem c.1921 and c.1925 Fort set up shop of 39 rue de Chabrol and then 12 rue de Chabrol, staying only a couple of years at each address during which he publishing a few books with the imprint 'Libraire du bon vieux temps'.

In c.1925 Fort moved again, this time setting up shop at 79 rue de Vaugirard where he remained until c.1939. From Vaugirard he began publishing under the imprints of 'Au Cabinet du Livre' and the better known imprint of 'Collection des Orties Blanches', a series of flagellation novels. While it seems the majority of Fort's earlier publications were unillustrated these flagellation books often contained explicit engravings by some of the top erotica illustrators of the time: Jim Black [Luc Lafnet], Louis Malteste, Herric [Herouard], and Martin Van Maele. Business must have been good.

Jean Fort published his last book in 1939 from his shop at 79, rue de Vaugirard, after which he disappears from the records.

[1] He published L'école de l'Amour et L'Art d'aimer in 1905 under the imprint ‘Bergès’. Then in 1910 there were three titles published with the imprint 'F. PIERRE et P. BERGÈS’ with at least one known address of 66 Boulevard Magenta: Les Cinglades voluptueuses by Carlo Albérica, Les Mystères de la flagellation…by Dr Léonhard, and Le Véritable trésor des sciences magiques…by Alphonse Gallais. Are these Pierre Fort publications?

[2] Jean discovered that although Le Bréviaire de l’Amour dans le Mariage and Le Tableau de l'Amour Conjugal had different titles, the texts were absolutely identical. Jean published a different text adaptation for Le Bréviaire de l’Amour dans le Mariage. When Pierre found out Jean had published the title with different text, he sued his nephew for theft of title. He requested from the court the removal of the book as a penalty plus 5,000 francs in damages. Jean countered with the argument that at the time of the reproduction agreement, the text was in the public domain and therefore owned by no one. He also counter-sued his uncle for 10,000 francs, claiming his uncle illegally published etchings from L'école de l'Amour in the book Madam Bézu.On November 28, 1912, the court ordered Jean-Marie Fort to delete all copies printed during the month of the court’s decision under a penalty of five francs per day for twenty days. Pierre Fort was ordered to remove all books, catalogues, flyers and ads containing the etchings from L'école de l'Amour under a penalty five francs per day for a month. He was also ordered to pay his nephew 500 francs in damages.

{Source: L'Art et le Droit - Bulletin mensuel actualities judiciaires Jan. 1913, pp.112-119)

Imprint Timeline

Years: 1907-1922

Address: 71-73, Faubourg Poissonnière
       • Jean Fort
       • Collection Preceuse
       • Quebec: Sweetgra's (1910-1913)
       • Bibliothèque des deux hemispheres (1911)
    Artists used: Leon Roze, Louis Malteste, Jean Macorlan

Years: 1922-1923

Address: 39, rue de Chabrol
       • Collection des Orties Blanches

Years: 1922-1926

Address: 12, rue de Chabrol
       • Bon Vieux temps

Years: 1926-1939

Address: 79, rue de Vaugirard
       • Collection des Orties Blanches
         (Artists used: Louis Malteste, Jim Black (Luc Lafnet), Beloti, Carman, Leon Pierre, J.X. Dumulion)
       • Au Cabinet du Livre (1927-1939)
         (Arists used: Sylvain Saulvage, Viset (Luc Lafnet), Martin Van Maele, Silex, Daniel Girard)
       • Aux Galants Passe-temps (1934-1937)