Little Books

Peter Davies Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1927-1930
Size: 5″x 3.25″

Peter Davies was one of five brothers adopted by author J.M. Barrie after their mother’s death in 1910. He was the inspiration for Barrie’s Peter Pan, an association which troubled Davies for the rest of his life. Davies started his firm in 1926 with financial help from Barrie. “In 1937 William Heinemann Ltd took a majority interest in the firm of Peter Davies Ltd, and the two firms were closely linked for the next forty years. In 1977 Peter Davies Ltd was fully incorporated into Heinemann.” (Firms Out of Business)

“Peter Davies, of London, announces a new library of miniature editions de luxe entitled “Little Books,” edited by Charles Whibley. Though uniform in binding each volume will be printed in the contemporary style of the original editions.” (Saturday Review of Literature, vol. 4, 1927)

This small series of small books included six titles, all with an initial publication date of 1927. Titles include:

Sir Walter Raleigh, Instructions to his Sonne
Sir Thomas Browne, Hydriotaphia or Urne-Burial
Sir Matthew Hale, Discourse Touching Provision for the Poor
James Wright, Country Conversations
Lord Halifax, Character of King Charles II
Lord Chesterfield, Characters

Jackets are common to the series, printed on heavier off-white paper. The book title, series number, and publisher colophon is on the jacket spine. The series name and editor (Charles Whibley) is at the top of the jacket front, followed by the book title, author, original year of publication, price (2s.) and publisher. The front jacket flap is blank.

All six titles in the series are listed on the rear of the jacket.

Pink card bindings include the book title on the spine and a box and graphic on the front cover.

While dated 1927, an owner inscription from 1939 is included on the front end-paper.

The title page uses a very modern sans-serif font, and includes, at the top and in largest size type, the series name (and editor). The date (1927) is also included under the publisher’s imprint.

On the copyright page, “This edition is limited to two thousand copies for sale” is followed by “Printed in Great Britain by Walter Lewis, MA, at the Cambridge University Press. An introduction discusses the reprinted book.

The continuation of the introduction:

A recreation of the original book title page prefaces the text:

The first page of text:

The final page of the book lists the six titles in the series. The size of the books is Royal 32mo (a bit larger than 32mo). The asterisked titles: “Twenty-five copies have been bound in full leather.” Each title is limited to 2,000 copies.