Harper’s Library of Living Thought

Harper & Brothers Publishers (New York, US; London, UK)
Series dates: 1909-1922
Size: 4.5″ x 7″


Harper’s Library of Living Thought was a series of at least 29 of mostly commissioned titles issued between 1909 and 1922 with a few literary titles. All were written by “authorities” and addressed a range of issues across the natural and social sciences, humanities and arts. Most titles were published in 1909 to 1913 with a few reprints until 1922. A few titles were issued as paperbacks in 1922.

Jackets are somewhat transitional between the fully generic jackets found in the early 1900s (with no indication of the specific author or title) and common jacket designs. The jacket spine indicates the title and author, but the front of the jacket does not. This copy of T. Eric Peet’s Rough Stone Monuments and their Builders is a first edition from October 1912. The front of the jacket contains the price (2s./6d.) for cloth binding, as well as a statement about the books not to be sold below the published price (which had to do with controversies over book discounting in the early part of the 1900s). I’m not sure if this series was also sold in the U.S. with a modified jacket. The front jacket flap includes “Press Opinions of the Series” from a series of British newspapers and periodicals.


The rear of the jacket contains the series logo, and the rear flap includes titles in the series: Cloth and Leather (3s./6d.). 27 titles are listed as of 1912. Not include are two 1913 titles:

E. Walter Maunder, Are The Planets Inhabited?
William Kearney Carr, Matter and Some of its Dimensions


Decent quality cloth bindings include debossed decorations on the book front and back as well as gold decorations.


A page preceding the half-title page includes the series name and logo.


The rather elaborate half-title page includes a distinct decorative border around the title and author as well as the publisher’s imprint.


An illustration (of Stonehenge) faces the title page. The date of publication is included under the publisher’s imprint.


The copyright page includes the month and date (October, 1912) of publication.


The rear of the book contains a catalog of titles in the series, with six titles detailed (with reviews) followed by a complete list of titles in the series.