Helicon Series

John Lane | The Bodley Head (London, UK)
Series dates: 1927-1928
Size: 5.25″ x 6.5″

The Helicon Poetry Series was issued in 4 volumes (Keats, Longfellow, Tennyson, Wordsworth), edited by poet Alfred Noyes, in 1925 by Cassell. Two years later, John Lane / The Bodley Head began to issue titles in their Helicon Series, with 14 titles issued in 1927 and 1928.

The Helicon Series were small, squat gift books of good quality, typically illustrated with romantic line drawings or woodcuts. The titles were shorter works of poetry and prose. Jackets were common to the series, simple text with the title printed in red on the front of the jacket. The series name and series number (in roman numerals) is included on the front of the jacket as is the 2 shilling price. The front jacket flap is blank. The jacket is heavy, linen paper. This copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is #8 in the series, published in 1928.

The Helicon Series consisted of 4 titles issued in 1927 and an additional 10 titles issued in 1928. No reprints seem to have been issued. The list of titles below includes illustrators and the year of issue in the series:

#1. Theocritus’ Second And Seventh Idylls. Translated into English verse by C.S. Calverley. Illustrated with woodcuts by Elizabeth Ivers. (1927)

#2. Shelley’s “Adonais.” Illustrated in line by Agnes Pinder Davis. (1927)

#3. Milton’s “L’allegro” and “Il Penseroso.” Illustrated in line by Peggy Norgate. (1927)

#4. Matthew Arnold’s “The Forsaken Merman” and “The Scholar Gipsy.” Illustrated with woodcuts By Annabel Kidston. (1927)

#5. Spenser’s “Epithalamion.” Illustrated with woodcuts by Maud Wethered. (1928)

#6. Keats’ “The Eve Of St. Agnes.” Illustrated in line By E.M. Craig. (1928)

#7. Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality” and Six Sonnets. Illustrated with woodcuts by Marjorie Firth. (1928)

#8. The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam. Rendered into English verse with an introduction by Edward Fitzgerald. Illustrated in line by Herbert Cole. (1928)

#9. Stephen Phillips’ “Marpessa.” Illustrated in line by Philip Connard. (1928)

#10. Sir John Suckling’s “A Ballade Upon A Wedding” and other Poems. Illustrated in line by Herbert Cole. (1928)

#11. A Dream of Fair Women, by Alfred Tennyson. (1928)

* #12. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and other Poems, by Thomas Gray. (1928)

#13. The Blessed Damozel and Love’s Nocturn, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. (1928)

#14. The Day-Dream, by Alfred Tennyson Tennyson. (1928)

* Special edition issued for Christmas, 1928: “green marbled boards, black leather label blocked in gold on spine; top edge gilt, others uncut; red cotton bookmark; grey paper-covered slipcase” (source).

The rear of the jacket lists titles in the series. This list is not numbered but includes the first 10 titles in the series.

The black cloth bindings are decorated in gold.

A pre-half-title page illustration:

The half-title page inclues the series name, series number and book title.

An illustration, in this case, one of the illustrations in the book by illustrator Herbert Cole, faces the title page.

“This Edition first published 1928.” “Printed in Great Britain by R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinburgh.”