Globe Edition / Globe Library

aka/ Globe Series
aka/ New Globe Poets

Macmillan & Co., Ltd. (London, UK & US)
Series dates: 1864-1976
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

St. Martin’s Press (New York, US)
Series dates: 1956-1965

Macmillan’s Globe Edition (also called the Globe Library and Globe Series and New Globe Poets) contained lofty literary contents with bindings and paper of a significantly higher quality than the typical reprint series. The series aimed to publish complete or nearly complete collections of the works of select authors, scrupulously edited.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-10-45-28-amThe series origins can be traced to the 1864 publication of the The Globe Edition of the Works of William Shakespeare. That volume was inspired by Macmillan’s The Cambridge Shakespeare, a scholarly effort, led by W.G. Clark, of significant proportions, issued in 9 volumes beginning in 1863. The Globe Edition was Macmillan co-founder Alexander Macmillan’s idea, a one-volume Shakespeare to be reviewed by the Cambridge editors working on the multi-volume project, but aimed at a broader audience.

The entry for this volume in A Bibliographical Catalogue of Macmillan and Co’s Publications from 1843 to 1889 includes an abstract “globe” (above, left) that may have been included in the Shakespeare volume. A more elaborate globe logo for the series is used for later books in the series (below, right). Throughout that bibliography (published in 1891) the series is always referred to as The Globe Edition. Entries in WorldCat sometimes indicate The Globe Library starting in 1870. Later books in the series (see below) include both The Globe Edition and The Globe Library on the books. In some cases the series is referred to as the New Globe Poets. It’s not clear why the publisher used three different names for the series over time.

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As for the use of the word “Globe” in the series name: it was not in reference to the Globe Theatre, and there was initial resistance to its use. It was seen by W.G. Clark as “claptrappy.” But Alexander Macmillan stuck with the name. As explained in the introductory matter in the Globe Shakespeare book: “We trust that the title which has been chosen for the present edition will neither be thought presumptuous or be found inappropriate. It seems indeed safe to predict that any volume which presents in a convenient form with clear type and at a moderate cost, the complete works of the foremost man in all literature, the greatest master of the language most widely spoken among men, will make its way to the remotest corners of the habitable globe.”

The success of the Globe Shakespeare led Macmillan to issue additional titles under the Globe Edition (and Globe Library) series name (much like the success of Palgrave’s Golden Treasury led to Macmillan’s Golden Treasury Series). While no new titles were added after 1924, many of the books were reprinted many times, through at least 1976. Some titles are reprinted under the St. Martin’s Press New York office imprint between 1956-1965. An example from 1961 is below. St. Martin’s Press (named after the street Macmillan was located on in London) was established as an imprint of Macmillan in 1952.

A list of the 27 titles in the Globe Series / Globe Library with initial publication dates:

The Works of William Shakespeare (1864)
The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott
(1866)
An Atlas of the European States (1867)
Poems, Songs, and Letters, Being the Complete Works of Robert Burns (1868)
Robinson Crusoe (1868)
Morte d’Arthur (1868)
The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith (1869)
The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope (1869)
The Complete Works of Edmund Spenser (1869)
The Poetical Works of William Cowper (1870)
The Poetical Works of John Dryden (1870)
The Works of Virgil Rendered into English Prose (1871)
The Works of Horace Rendered into English Prose (1873)
The Poetical Works of John Milton (1877)
The Globe Edition Complete Works of Edmund Spenser (1879)
The Poetical Works of Percy Shelley (1891)
The Illiad of Homer (1892)
Boswell’s Life of Johnson (1893)
The Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1893)
The Chronicles of Froissart (1895)
The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1898)
Complete Poetical Works of Wordsworth (1898)
Poetical Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson (1899)
The Poetical Works of John Keats (1907)
The Diary of John Evelyn (1908)
Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold (1908)
The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti (1924)

The Macmillan Book Catalogue of September 1874 contains a prospectus for the series:

Beautifully printed on toned paper and bound in cloth extra, gilt edges, price 4s/6d each; in cloth plain 3s/6d. Also kept in a variety of calf and morocco bindings at moderate prices.

BOOKS, Wordsworth says, are “the spirit breathed
By dead men to their kind;”

…and the aim of the publishers of the Globe Library has been to make it possible for the universal kin of English-speaking men to hold communion with the loftiest “spirits of the mighty dead;” to put within the reach of all classes complete and accurate editions, carefully and clearly printed upon the best paper, in a convenient form, at a moderate price, of the works of the MASTER-MINDS OF ENGLISH LITERATURE, and occasionally of foreign literature in an attractive English dress.

The Editors, by their scholarship and special study of their authors, are competent to afford every assistance to readers of all kinds: this assistance is rendered by original biographies, glossaries of unusual or obsolete words, and critical and explanatory notes.

The publishers hope, therefore, that these Globe Editions may prove worthy of acceptance by all classes wherever the English Language is spoken, and by their universal circulation justify their distinctive epithet; while at the same time they spread and nourish a common sympathy with nature’s most “finely touched” spirits, and thus help a little to “make the whole world kin.”

The SATURDAY REVIEW says: “The Globe Editions are admirable for their scholarly editing, their typographical excellence, their compendious form, and their cheapness.”

The BRITISH QUARTERLY REVIEW says: “In compendiousness, elegance, and scholarliness, the Globe Editions of Messrs. Macmillan surpass any popular series of our classics hitherto given to the public. As near an approach to miniature perfection as has ever been made.”


In 1883-1884 at least 9 titles in a sub-series called Globe Readings (sometimes called Globe Readings from Standard Authors) were issued, aimed at younger readers. No titles seem to be added to this series after 1884, but titles were reprinted up to at least 1904.

The Task, a Poem in Six Books, by William Cowper (1883)
The Vicar of Wakefield, by Alexander Goldsmith (1883)
A Book of Golden Deeds, by Charlotte Yonge (1883)
Tales From Shakespeare, by C. Lamb (1883)
The Children’s Garland, by C. Patmore (1883)
Lay of the Last Minstrel and Lady of the Lake, by W. Scott (1883)
Marmion and the Lord of the Isles, by W. Scott (1883)
John Gilpin, by William Cowper (1883)
Madam How and Lady Why, by Charles Kingsley (1884)


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A copy of the Works of Milton printed in 1906 is below. The first edition was 1877, and this is the 15th printing. This book was printed in England, but has the publisher’s New York imprint, and thus is an US edition. Macmillan’s offices in different parts of the world operated independently of each other, but did share titles and series. A later US edition of this title from 1961 is shown further below with a St. Martin’s Press (subsidiary of Macmillan) New York imprint.

Jackets in the early part of the 20th century are plain and minimalist, like later jackets. They are unique to each title given the facsimile of the author’s signature centered on the front of the jacket. A box surrounds the signature and front of the jacket. The front jacket flap is blank.

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The rear of the jacket advertises the New Globe Poets for $1.75. Thus in addition to the Globe Edition, Globe Library, and Globe Series, the series is also called the New Globe Poets.

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Sturdy cloth binding with gold decorations:

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The half title page:

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The title page indicates the series is The Globe Edition. The New Globe Poets seems to have been used as a secondary series name. Later the jackets would indicate the Globe Library. A Macmillan logo faces the title page. The date of publication (1906) is below the imprint.

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Copyright page includes all subsequent printings of this title.

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Printer information indicates the book was produced in England.

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By the 1930s the series, while still the Globe Edition on the title pages, is being sold as the Globe Library.

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The copy of The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti shown below is an 1935 3rd printing. The first printing was 1924. The collection was originally printed in 1904, and reprinted 6 times, the last time in 1920. This is the last title added to the Globe series.

Jackets for 1930s copies in the series are common to the series, with minimal decorations beyond the Globe Edition logo on the jacket front. The front jacket flap is blank besides the price of 4s./6d.

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The rear of the jacket lists 24 of the 27 titles in the series under the Globe Library name. Missing are the Atlas, Robinson Crusoe, and Horace. The books are available in a variety of bindings, including cloth (this example), Leather for 6s./6d, Ecrase Morocco (a variety of goat found in North Africa) for 6s./6d., and Persian Leather for 7s./6d.

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Bindings are of high quality, green cloth with gold decorations and typography. The Globe Series logo is debossed on the front of the book.

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The half title page:

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The publisher’s imprints (London, New York, Canada) face the title page. The date of printing (1935) is included on the title page.

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The copyright page includes information on the original printings as well as reprintings in the Globe Library series. The printer’s information is included at the bottom of the copyright page.

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The printers information is also included on the last page in the book.

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St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan in New York, issued some of the Globe Edition / Library titles in the U.S. from about 1956-1965. The books are UK printed editions, both book and jacket, with a St. Martin’s Press logo glued over the Macmillan imprint at the base of the dust jacket spine (left). Otherwise, the book is nearly identical to those issued from the 1930s onward.

This copy of Milton’s Poetical Works is a 1961 26th printing of the original 1877 edition. The font of the jacket is identical to the example shown above from the 1924 Rossetti title. The price is clipped on this example, and it is not known if it was issued with the U.K. price clipped, or if it had a price in dollars that was clipped by the buyer. The St. Martin’s Press logo is glued over the Macmillan imprint at the base of the jacket spine.

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The rear of the jacket lists six titles in the series, Chaucer, Homer, Pope, Shakespeare and Tennyson. The rear jacket flap indicates “Printed in Great Britain.”

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The binding is similar to the 1924 edition but without the debossed logo on the front of the book.

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The half title page indicates “The Globe Edition” along with the book’s title. The series name is not indicated on the 1924 edition half-title page.

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The title page includes the date of printing under the publisher’s imprint.

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The copyright page includes years of all printings along with the Macmillan UK, Canada, and U.S. (St. Martin’s Press) imprint.

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Printer information is on the last page in the book.

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