Bodley Head Library

John Lane | The Bodley Head (London, UK)
Series dates: 1937-1941
Size: 4.5″ x 7″

bodley_logoThe Bodley Head Publishers, established in 1887, had run into financial difficulties in the mid-1930s. “It continued after 1936 backed by a consortium of Allen & Unwin, Jonathan Cape, and J. M. Dent. Allen Lane, John Lane’s nephew who had inherited control, finally left to found Penguin Books.” (Wikipedia)

As all three publishers guiding Bodley Head after 1936 had significant reprint series, this may have suggested the development of the Bodley Head Library, consisting of titles from the publisher’s back catalog. In all, 23 titles were issued under the series name between 1937 and 1941. The series name was also used infrequently in the 1960s and 1970s for a few random reprints.

Jackets are common in design, varying only in the author and title. The Bodley Head logo is used on both the spine and jacket front. A blurb about the series is included on the front jacket flap, as is the price (3s./6d).

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The bindings are decorated, with the author and title of the book impressed on the front cover.

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The book’s endpapers are decorated in a manner not unlike the endpapers of Everyman’s Library.

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A list of the first 12 titles is included on this early edition jacket, rear flap.

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A full list of the 23 titles in the Bodley Head Library with series numbers is below:

1937
1. G.K. Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw
2. Anatole France, Penguin Island
3. Kenneth Grahame, The Golden Age
4. Max Beerbohm, Works and More
5. John Buchan, Scholar Gypsies
6. Andre Maurois, The Silence Of Colonel Bramble
7. G.K. Chesterton, The Napoleon Of Notting Hill (reprint 1941)
8. Anatole France, The Red Lily
9. J.B. Priestley, The English Comic Characters
10. E.H. Jones, The Road To En-Dor
11. ‘Saki,’ The Chronicles Of Clovis
12. Stephen Leacock, Behind The Beyond

1938
13. Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard
14. G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (reprint 1939)
15. James Branch Cabell, Jurgen
16. Anatole France, Selected Stories
17. Kenneth Grahame, Pagan Papers and The Headswoman
18. A.J. Evans, The Escaping Club (WorldCat indicates a 1940 publication date for this title)

1939
19. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (reprint 1941)
20. Anatole France, Thaïs
21. Knut Hamsun, Growth of the Soil
22. André Maurois, General Bramble

1940
23. John Cowper Powys, The Way of Happiness

Later titles in part documented in an advertisement in The Graven Image: West African Stories, M. Yeulett, John Lane, 1939.