Eighteenth-Century Novels

aka/ Scholartis Eighteenth-Century Novels

Scholartis Press (London, UK)
Series dates: 1928-1929
Size: 7.75″ x 4.5″

Eric Partridge, probably best known for his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (1937 + supplements) was a New Zealand-born lexicographer. In the 1920s he was teaching at various universities in the London area while conducting research at the British Library. In 1927, tiring of his lecturing position at the University of London, Partridge established the Scholartis Press. About 100 titles were published before the Press closed in 1935. One goal of the press was to publish the works of young authors who were unable to get published by major houses. The initial emphasis was on limited editions, but popular titles were reprinted to meet demand. More information can be found here: “Before he was a lexicographer: Eric Partridge and the Scholartis Press.”

The press also issued reprints of classic titles in at least five different series, most of them also limited editions:

The Benington Books (1930-1931)
Eighteenth Century Novels (1928-1929)
Elizabethan Gallery (1928-1934)
Nineteenth-Century Highways and Byways (1927-1929)
Oriental Bazaar (1930-1931)

The Eighteenth-Century Novels series, as per the brief description above, was a scholarly endeavor: reprints of 18th century novels (of course) but with significant academic accouterments, including comprehensive introductions, bibliographic information and in some cases, annotations. The books were nicely bound with handmade paper and if the limited edition, were numbered. As noted in the blurb above, at least 3 of the first 4 titles in the series were signed by the editors, in the limited edition. This is a bit peculiar, but who else would sign books written in the 18th century? The series was issued for two years only, and 7 different titles were published.

#1. The Man of Feeling, by Henry Mackenzie; Hamish Miles, ed.
#2. The Post-Captain, by John Davis & John Moore; R. Brimley Johnson, ed.
#3. The Lives of Cleopatra & Octavia, by Sarah Fielding; R. Brimley Johnson, ed.
#4. The Vicar of Wakefield, by Oliver Goldsmith; Oswald Doughty, ed.

#5. A Sentimental Journey, by Laurence Sterne, Herbert Read, ed.
#6. The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole; Oswald Doughty, ed.
#7. Joseph Andrews, by Henry Fielding; John Paul de Castro, ed.

Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey, with an introduction by Herbert Read, was #5 out of 7 titles published in the series, and one of three published in 1929. The jackets are common to the series and very plain. The spine includes the author, title and editor along with the price (7s/6d) along with the publisher. The author, title, editor and publisher are printed on the jacket front. The front jacket flap is blank. The series name is not indicated anywhere on the dust jacket (front or back).

The rear of the jacket has a peculiar advertisement for three recent Scholartis Press titles: “Three Aspects of the 18th Century Spirit.” The first (The Post Captain) is in the Eighteenth-Century Novels series, the 2nd and 3rd are not. For each book, details of the limited printing or printings, and price are included. No series names are indicated.

Quarter bindings in brick cloth (stamped with gold typography) and marbled paper are of decent quality, but rather 19th century in appearance.

The half title page:

A listing of the series titles (the only place in the book or on the jacket the series is mentioned) faces the title page. 5 titles are listed (including “the present book”) and two in press. These are all the titles (8 in all) published in the series.

The printer is T. and A. Constable, and the facing page includes a reproduction of the title page of the 2nd edition of A Sentimental Journey.

Table of contents.

First page of text.

The last page in the book contains a typographically styled block of text including the book title, author, publisher, editor, typeface (12 point Baskerville) and the limited edition indicator. This copy may be one of the 1460 copies on “antique paper” which don’t seem to have been numbered.