Bell’s Miniature Series of Great Writers

George Bell & Sons (London, UK)
Series dates: 1904-1909
Size: 4″ x 6.25″

A discussion of the publishing firm of George Bell & Sons can be found in the entry for Bohn’s Popular Library.

“A new ‘Miniature Series of Great Writers’ will be started in September by Messers. Bell, uniform with their miniature series of painters and musicians, and embracing the great writers of all countries.” (The¬†Times Literary Supplement,¬†July 29, 1904 Issue 133, p. 239)

Left, above: Advertisement for the first four titles in the series, The Bookseller, October 14, 1904. Right, above: List of series titles distributed by Macmillan in the US (August 1907 catalog, here). I can’t find any evidence that Macmillan published the series in the U.S.

Bell’s Miniature Series of Great Writers was one of at least three series of small biographical books, two others being¬†Bell’s Miniature Series of Musicians and¬†Bell’s Miniature Series of Painters. The first titles appeared in 1904 and the last title in 1909. Macmillan distributed the series in the US. A total of 15 titles were published.

1904
*Chaucer, by William Tuckwell
*Coleridge, by Richard Garnett
*De Quincey, by Henry S. Salt
*Dickens, by W. Teignmouth Shore
*Shakespeare, by Alfred Ewen

1905
*Browning, Sir Frank T. Marzials
*Daniel Defoe, by Albinia Lucy Cust Wherry
*Horace, William Tuckwell
*Dr. Johnson, by John Dennis
*Charles Lamb, by Walter Jerrold
*Milton, by George Charles Williamson

1906
*Molière, by Sir Frank T. Marzials
*Spenser, by William Tuckwell

1907
Dante, by¬†Marie-Louise Egerton Castle (also,¬†Bell’s Miniature Series of Poets; a copy I’ve seen has Bell’s Miniature Series of Great Writers on the book cover and Bell’s Miniature Series of Poets on the title page)

1909
Oliver Goldsmith, by E.S. Lang Buckland

*Distributed by Macmillan in the US, 1907 catalog (here)


Dust jackets for the series are on tan paper, and the design is probably common to titles in the series (this copy is the only one I’ve seen with a jacket). ¬†The series name is on the top of the jacket front, and the front jacket flap is blank. This copy of Sir Frank T. Marzials Browning was first published in the series in 1905.

The back of the jacket and rear flap are also blank.

This cloth copy (leather copies were also available) is debossed with the same design and typography as the dust jacket, including the series name.

This book does not have a half-title page. A photograph of the book’s subject faces the title page. The year of publication is below the publisher’s imprint.

A printer’s note is on the copyright page: “Chiswick Press: Charles Wittingham and Co., Tooks Court, Chancery Lane, London.”

A second printer’s note is at the end of the final page in the book: “Chiswick Press: Printed by Charles Wittingham and Co., Tooks Court, Chancery Lane, London.”