Home University Library

aka/ Home University Library of Modern Knowledge

Williams and Norgate (London, UK)
Series dates: 1911-1928

Henry Holt and Co. (New York, US)
Series dates: 1911-1940

Thornton Butterworth (London, UK)
Series dates: 1928-1940

Oxford University Press (London, UK)
Series dates: 1940-1970
Size: 4.25″ x 6.5″

The Home University Library of Modern Knowledge were commissioned books on various topics first published “in 1911 by Williams and Norgate in London and Henry Holt and Company in New York. The general editors were H.A.L. Fisher and Gilbert Murray. The idea for the series came from George Herbert Perris who was the assistant editor. In 1928 the series was bought for £10,700 by Thornton Butterworth from Williams and Norgate. Oxford University Press were the under-bidder. Oxford had another chance to buy the series when the offices of Thornton Butterworth were destroyed in The Blitz in 1940. Eyre & Spottiswoode acquired most of the Thornton Butterworth business (when Butterworth shut down in 1940) but Oxford were able to acquire the Home University Library for £4750.” (Source)


E.W. Macbride’s An Introduction to the Study of Heredity (below) is a April 1931, forth printing (first May 1924). It is from the second era of the UK Home University Library, after Williams and Norgate but before Oxford University Press. The jackets are common to the series. The spine includes the series name, serial number (110 in this case), title, author, price (2/6) and publisher. Also included is a silhouette of what is probably a university building. That graphic is expanded on the bottom of the front of the jacket. The front of the jacket is headed by the series name. A note that a full catalog of series titles is to be found in the back of the book is at the bottom of the jacket front. The front flap includes five points about the Home University Library: all books are written for the series, physical and bibliographic aspects of the books, the learned authors, the relevance of the series topics, and the relation of individual books to the entirety of the series.


The back of the jacket includes the series editors (as of 1932): H.A.L. Fisher, Gilbert Murray, and Sir J. Arthur Thomson. A laudatory blurb about the series fills the rear jacket flap.


Solid cloth bindings in pale blue are stamped with the series name on the front of the book cover, with the Thornton Butterworth logo on the lower right.


The half-title page with the book title and series name:


Editors of the series are listed facing the title page.


A printing history of the book is included on the copyright page.


A series catalog spans four pages at the end of the book, up to series number 157. Categories in the series include Economics and Business, History and Geography, Literature, Political and Social Science, Religion and Philosophy, and Science.





G.J. Warnock’s English Philosophy since 1900, shown below, was first published in the series in 1958 as #234. This is an example of the post-WW2 Oxford imprint of the Home University Library series. This particular book is is a 2nd printing from 1959. The series reached at least 252 titles (by 1964).

Jackets are common to the series at this time. At least 5 different jacket/binding variations exist before WW2, and at least one different variation before these plain text jackets with varying background colors were introduced in the mid 1950s. The series is abbreviated on the jacket spine (HUL) and the series number is included. The front jacket flap includes a blurb about the title. The price is on the front flap, in this case a price change to 8s/6d in the UK.


The rear of the jacket includes a prospectus for the series. Related series titles are listed on the rear jacket flap.


Basic black cloth bindings with silver typography.


The series name and serial number are on the half-title page.


General editors for the series are facing the title page.


The copyright page includes the original copyright date along with first printing and subsequent printings.