How they did A/B testing in 1845

If you ever thought that concepts like lean startup, customer development or A/B testing are new, think again. While reading a short biography of Charles Baudelaire a couple of days ago, I stumbled upon this little paragraph describing pure, simple A/B testing in 1845:

“Le Fleurs du Mal, the most celebrated collection of verse in the history of modern poetry, first appeared on the horizon in 1845 in an advertisement on a book cover: ‘To be published shortly: The Lesbians by Baudelaire-Dufays’. Charles Baudelaire, who was trying out different versions of his name (Dufays was his mother’s name), was a 24-year-old man of letters who had published only one poem. The announcement of The Lesbians was repeated on several book covers in 1846 and 1847, including that of Bauelaire’s own substantial pamphlet reviewing the annual art exhibit, The Salon of 1846. By 1848 the title had changed to Limbo, who’s publication was announced as imminent, and in 1850 and 1851 some pems from the future Flowers of Evil were published as extracts from Limbo. Finally in 1855 the Revue des deux mondes printed eighteen poems undr the title, Les Fleurs du Mal, and the complete collection appeared in 1857.”

For me, this is a reconfirmation of the fact I shouldn’t have skipped History classes when I was in school. And on a similar note, I encourage you to buy Le Fleurs du Mal, Baudelaire’s most celebrated collection of poems.

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