Essex Library (Ernest Benn)

Ernest Benn Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1929-1932
Size: 4.25″ x 6.75″

Benn’s Essex Library¬†was published between 1929 and 1932. I can account for 51 titles in 52 volumes (one title was issued in two volumes). It is difficult to match series numbers to titles, as the only place the series numbers are identified is on some (but not all) dust jackets. Titles for which I can’t identify a series number follow the numbered titles each year below.

1929: 24 titles
1. Evelyn Innes, by George Moore
2. Climbs On Alpine Peaks, by His Holiness Pope Pius XI
3. The Rover, by Joseph Conrad
5. Fundamental Thoughts In Economics, by Gustav Cassel
7. Rhymes Of A Rolling Stone, by Robert W. Service
8. Eve’s Ransom, by George Gissing
12.¬†The Land of Heart’s Desire; The Countess Cathleen, by W.B. Yeats
14. Songs of a Sourdough, by Robert W. Service
15. Tristan In Brittany, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers
19. An Outcast Of The Islands, by Joseph Conrad
20. Laughing Ann, by A.P. Herbert
21. The Man Who Was Afraid, by Maxim Gorky
22. The Stickit Minister, by S. R. Crockett
24. Dreams, by Olive Schreiner

Mr. Teddy, by E.F. Benson
The Arrow Of Gold, by Joseph Conrad
The Raiders, by S.R. Crockett
Dead Souls, by Nikolai V. Gogol
Blood And Sand, by Vincente Blasco Ibanez
Sister Teresa, by George Moore
The Drama Of The Law, by Sir Edward Parry
The Story of An African Farm, by Olive Schreiner
The Rhymes of a Red-Cross Man, by Robert W. Service
Joan and Peter, by H.G. Wells

1930: 10 titles
26. The Unclassed, by George Gissing
27. She-Shanties, by A. P. Herbert
28. George the Fourth, by Shane Leslie
31. Lovers and Friends, by E. F. Benson
34.¬†Almayer’s Folly, by Joseph Conrad

Uncanny Tales, by F. Marion Crawford
The Blue Lagoon, by H. De Vere Stacpool
The Challenge Of The Dead, by Stephen Graham
The Coming Of The Friars, by Augustus Jessoff
My Crowded Solitude, by Jack McLaren

1931: 13 titles in 14 volumes. From Man to Man; or, Perhaps Only, by Olive Schreiner was issued in two volumes in the series, and was probably assigned two series numbers.
36. Ballads of a Cheechako, by Robert W. Service
38. Protestantism, by The Rev. W. R. Inge
39. Shakespeare, by G.B. Harrison
42. Madame Claire, by Susan Ertz
43. The English Novel, by J.B. Priestley
48. The Beacon, by Eden Phillpotts

Oliver Cromwell, by Hilaire Belloc
The Gentle Art Of Tramping, by Stephen Graham
Atoms and Rays, by Sir Oliver Lodge
From Man to Man; or, Perhaps Only, by Olive Schreiner (2 vols.)
These Men Thy Friends, by Edward John Thompson
The Undying Fire, by H.G. Wells
Requiem, by Humbert Wolfe

1932: 4 titles
49. Poets at Play: Anthology of Parodies and Light Verse, edited by Stephen Miall
50. The Confessions of a Capitalist, by Ernest John Pickstone Benn

Ancient Tales From Many Lands, by Rachel M. Fleming
Plain Jane, by A.P. Herbert

Benn’s Essex Library retains a common jacket design through its publication history. Priestley’s The English Novel (#43, 1931) is shown below. Celtic designs appear on the spine and jacket front. The price (here, 3/6 net) appears on the spine. The series name appears on the jacket spine and front. In this case, the series number appears on the front of the jacket. Some jackets do not include the series number. The series number is also not found in the book, nor in catalogs on the jacket or in the book, nor in advertisements. Thus it’s difficult to match series numbers to titles.


A list of titlesa available in the series in 1931 is found on the rear of this jacket. The back jacket flap advertises the Essex Edition of the Works of H.G. Wells.


At least two bindings exist, similar except for gold stamping (see below).



The title page of one of the lower-numbered books in the series faces an initial list of titles with titles to follow.


An advertisement in the Times (London) 4 Apr. 1929, p 10: