Murray’s Fiction Library

aka/ Murray’s 2/- net Novels

John Murray (London, UK)
Series dates: 1922-1932
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

The publisher John Murray was founded in 1768 by John Murray I (1745–1793) and became the publisher of many literary luminaries, including Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lord Byron, Charles Lyell, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Herman Melville, Edward Whymper and Charles Darwin. In 2004 it was sold to Lagardère under its Hachette UK imprint. (source).

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Murray’s Fiction Library, also called Murray’s 2/- net Novels, were published for a decade in the 1920s and early 1930s with a few reprints until at least 1936. Series titles were all reprints of popular literature, most from Murray’s back list.

The jackets for the series were unique to each title and in color. This copy of Agnes and Egerton Castle’s The Grip of Life, originally published by Murray in 1912, was first printed in the series in 1925. A quote from the book is stuck in the lower right corner of the jacket. the price of 2/- is indicated in the lower left corner. The price is also printed on the spine, but not the series name. The front jacket flap calls the series Murray’s 2/- net Novels. Listed are authors (such as Vachell, Merriman, and Doyle) with multiple volumes in the series.

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The rear of the jacket lists new titles in the series, and the back flap continues the list of selected titles begun on the front jacket flap.

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The book bindings are light, cheap cloth but are above average in design. Gold stamping on the spine and debossing on the front of the book use a stylized herbaceous art deco design that repeats on the book’s title page.

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Paper is cheap and coarse throughout the book. The half-title page:

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A list of titles in the series faces the title page. The design from the front of the book cover is used on the title page.

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The copyright page includes the date of printing.

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Two more copies from the series, both by P.C. Wren, with some variations in the jacket and book design. Beau Sabreur is from 1929, the first edition of this book in a cheap series – thus the “Now at 2/net” on the front of the jacket.

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The back of the jacket contains an advertisement for additional P.C. Wren titles published by Murray.

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The typical blue cloth binding with debossed plant decorations:

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Half title page:

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Title page with facing list of additional titles by Wren:

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The copyright page with the printing history of the title.

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Printer information, and a list of books in the Fiction Library, in the back of the book.

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A repeat of the Novels by P.C. Wren included on the back of the jacket:

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Another Wren title, Beau Ideal, published in 1930.

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The rear of the jacket and rear flap:

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Cloth binding:

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Half-title page:

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Title page with facing list of additional books by the author, and “All Rights Reserved.”

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Printing history of the book is on the copyright page:

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This book has a “mild” movie tie-in: it just happens to be based on a different Wren novel (Beau Geste). The Song of the Legion, from this Paramount movie, is printed on the last few pages of the book.

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