Keystone Library

Thornton Butterworth Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1933-1942
Size: 6″ x 8.5″

Eyre & Spottiswoode (London, UK)
Series dates: 1941-1942


Thornton Butterworth¬†had been a partner with John Long (publisher of the Carlton Classics) when he¬†established his own imprint around 1919. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the firm¬†published a significant number of biographies, books on travel, and literary criticism. In 1940 Butterworth’s firm was damaged by a German bomb during the blitz. In 1941 Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd. (publisher of the Century Library) “purchased the great majority of the stock and copyrights of Messrs. Thornton Butterworth and are arranging to take over their premises at 14, 15, and 16 Bedford Street as their own War-time Headquarters.” (British Books, 1941, vol.¬†154-155, Page 37).

The Keystone Library name was used by at least two other publishers before Butterworth. A hardcover series was published by Strawbridge & Clothier (Philadelphia, U.S.) from about 1900-1905. Strawbridge &¬†Clothier was a department store in Philadelphia that published “dime novels” and cheap series books from¬†the turn of the century until at least 1916.¬†An advertisement from a 1903 copy of the Review of Reviews lists the titles, authors, and 20 volumes for $9 deal on the series books.

Strawbridge & Clothier (Philadelphia, U.S.) Keystone Library advertisement, Review of Reviews, 1903

George Munroe’s Sons (New York, US) also published a paperbound series called the Keystone Library around 1900.


Thornton Butterworth’s Keystone Library was first issued in 1933, and titles were added through 1940. At least 58 titles (see list at the end, below) were issued.

Butterworth’s Keystone Library was a larger format, higher quality series priced more than typical reprint series, but still cheaper than the original editions. The series included Butterworth titles that had either gone out of print or, possibly (for slow-selling titles) had leftover sheets from the original printing.

This 1934 edition of the Selected Poems of Sir William Watson is a first in the series. The first publication of this book was in 1928. Watson had fallen into obscurity by the time this Keystone Library title was published, to the point that various literary men had issued an appeal for funds to support him in his dotage.

A text-based, common jacket exists for some early jackets in the series. The jackets were redesigned in the form shown below soon afterward. The redesigned jackets are on heavy paper with the series name prominently displayed on the spine, jacket front, and front flap. Colors include green (below) but also blue and red. The price (5s.) is included on the spine and jacket front. A series of reviews of the title, probably from the original issue, is on the front jacket flap. Some jackets do not include the elaborate arch and series name logo on the front of the jacket. A few later titles include unique jackets which probably borrow artwork from their original issues.


The rear of the flap contains 17 titles published or to be published in the Spring of 1934. The rear flap has a prospectus for the series.


The binding is heavy, reinforced cloth with gold stamping. The debossed design includes parallel lines and a publisher’s emblem in the lower right of the book front. Binding colors varied, green as below, but also red, orange, tan and blue.


A catalog of series titles is included prior to the book’s title page. Titles are available at several different prices, most at 5s. but one at 7s. 6d. and one at 3s. 6d. 16 titles are included in this list, one less than on the rear of the jacket.


Additional titles by Watson are listed on the reverse of the catalog page. The book has no half-title page, odd for an otherwise traditional, higher-than-average quality book.


A frontispiece containing a portrait of the author faces the title page. The keystone icon for the series is included, in color, on the title page.


The copyright page includes the original (1928) and Keystone Library reprint (1934) dates.


A 1936 (first) printing of Stephen Gwynn’s The Life of Sir Walter Scott¬†in the series has a blue colored jacket and lists more series titles. Curiously, a previous owner has carefully snipped away all the prices on this jacket. It would have made more sense, it seems, to just get rid of the jacket altogether.

A catalog of the Keystone Library as of 1936 is on the first page in the book, as with the Watson title above.

At least 68 titles were issued in the Keystone Library (counting double volume titles as one). The dates are probably off a bit. In WorldCat, the original date of publication and date of the Keystone Library publication is not always clear.

Memoirs and Biography

My Early Life, by Winston S. Churchill (1934)
Frederick Edwin, Earl of Birkenhead (2 Vols.), by Frederick Birkenhead (1933)
The Autobiography of Margot Asquith: Vol. I, by Margot Asquith (1933)
Nuda Veritas, by Clare Sheridan (1934)
Myself and My Friends. With an Aside by G.B.S., by Lillah Mccarthy (1934)
The Life of Benito Mussolini, by Margherita Sarfatti (1934)
The Life of Sir Walter Scott, by Stephen Gwynn (1936)
The Life of Horace Walpole, by Stephen Gwynn (1934)
The Life and Friendships of Dean Swift, by Stephen Gwynn (1935)
The Regent and His Daughter, by Dormer Creston (1934)
Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, by Kathleen Campbell (1933)
Florence Nightingale, by I.B. O’Malley (1934)
A Very Gallant Gentleman, by Commander L.C. Bernacchi (1935)
Anatole France Himself, by Jean Jacques Brousson (1934)
The Wizard of Homburg and Monte Carlo, by Count Corti (1936)
Men and Horses I Have Known (3s. 6d. net), by George Lambton (1934)
Lord Kitchener, by Arthur Hodges (1937)
Under the Bolshevik Uniform, by Vl.Lazarevskii (1937)
Oliver Goldsmith, by Stephen Lucius Gwynn (1937)
William Shakespeare, by John Masefield (1938)
Ludwig I of Bavaria, by Egon Caesar Corti (1939)
Louis XIV, by Sir Charles Petrie (1940)


The Life and Times of Akhnaton, by Arthur Weigall (1933)
The Glory of The Pharaohs, by Arthur Weigall (1936)
Alexander the Great, by Arthur Weigall (1935)
The Life and Times of Cleopatra, by Arthur Weigall (1935)
Marc Antony, by Arthur Weigall (1934)
The Regent and his Daughter, by Dorothy Julia Baynes (1934)
Nero, by Arthur Weigall (1933)
John Hampden’s England, by John Drinkwater (1933)
Ghengis Khan: Emperor of All Men, by Harold Lamb (1933)
The Crusades: Iron Men and Saints, by Harold Lamb (1934)
The Crusades: The Flame of Islam, by Harold Lamb (1935)
Baghdad: The City of Peace, by Richard Coke (1935)
Fifty Years, by 27 ‘Times’ Contributors (1936)
Charlemagne, by Charles Edward Russell (1936)
The Hudson’s Bay Company, by Robert E. Pinkerton (1936)
Varennes: The Flight of Louis XVI (1791), by Cesare Giardini (1937)
Sappho of Lesbos: Her Life and Times, by Arthur Weigall (1937)
The Unknown War: The Eastern Front, by Winston Churchill (1937)
My Early Life, by Winston Churchill (1937)
Sappho of Lesbos, by Arthur Weigall (1937)
Elizabeth, Empress of Austria, by Egon Caesar Corti (1937)
Knave of Hearts, by M.S. Coryn (1938)
Wanderings in Roman Britain, by Arthur Weigall (1938)
Jeffreys of “The Bloody Assizes,” by¬†Seymour Schofield¬†(1938)
Anne, the Last Stuart Monarch, by Neville Connell (1938)
Marie-Antoinette and Axel de Fersen, by M.S. Coryn (1939)
Potemkin: A¬†Picture of Catherine’s Russia, by¬†George Soloveytchik (1939)
Perfidious Albion, by Geneviève Tabouis (1939)
Further letters of Queen Victoria, by Victoria, Queen of Great Britain (1939)
The Arabs, by Bertram Thomas (1940)

Travel and Sport

East Again, by Walter B. Harris (1933)
The Conquest of the South Pole, by J. Gordon Hayes (1936)
Round the World With Rod and Rifle, by Major P. M. Stewart (1936)
The Wheels of Ind, by John W. Mitchell (1936)
The Conquest of the North Pole, by J. Gordon Hayes (1937)
Cambodian Glory, by H.W. Ponder (1938)
Travel and Sport in Many Lands, by Percy Marlborough Stewart (1939)

Belles Lettres and Poetry

Thoughts and Adventures, by Winston S. Churchill (1934)
Travels in French Indo-China, by Harry Hervey (1933)
A Vision of Morocco, by Vincent O’Connor (1933)
Landmarks in French Literature, by Lytton Strachey (1935)
Six Famous Living Poets, by Coulson Kernahan (1933)
Five More Famous Living Poets, by Coulson Kernahan (1936)
My Brother’s Face, by Dhan Gopal Mukerji (1935)
Egyptian Tales and Romances, by Sir Ernest A. Wallace Budge (1935)
Andromeda in Wimpole Street, by Dorothy Julia Baynes (1937)

In 1941 Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd. purchased much of Butterworth’s stock.¬†A few Keystone Library titles appear under the Eyre and¬†Spottiswoode imprint before they acquired Thornton Butterworth¬†in 1941. This suggests that the publishers had some kind of business relationship or that Eyre & Spottiswoode was reprinting Keystone Library titles without changing the original dates of publication. It is possible that Eyre & Spottiswoode were selling off remaining copies of Keystone Library titles and reprinted a few due to demand. At least one¬†series title was reprinted after 1941 with an Eyre and Spottiswoode imprint,¬†but the series was for all intents and purposes defunct by that time.

Two Keystone Library titles appear in WorldCat with the Eyre & Spottiswoode imprint:

A Very Gallant Gentleman, by Louis Charles Bernacchi
Butterworth: 1933
Butterworth / Keystone Library: 1935
Eyre & Spottiswoode: 1933
Eyre & Spottiswoode / Keystone Library: 1935, 1942 (“Third Impression”)

The Crusades, vol. 1: Iron Men & Saints, by Harold Lamb
Butterworth: 1930
Butterworth / Keystone Library: 1933, 1934
Eyre & Spottiswoode:
Eyre & Spottiswoode / Keystone Library: 1930, 1943