New Adelphi Library

Martin Secker (London, UK)
Series dates: 1926-1932
Size: 4.5″ x 7″

Martin Secker and J.M. Dent & Sons (London, UK)
Series dates: 1932-1936
Size: 4.5″ x 7″

Martin Secker and Warburg Ltd. and J.M. Dent & Sons (London, UK)
Series dates: 1936-1937
Size: 4.5″ x 7″

newadel_logoThe New Adelphi Library included at least 78 titles published over the eleven years of its existence. Started by publisher Martin Secker in 1926, the series (and the firm) experienced financial difficulties in the 1930s that led to joint publication of the series with J.M. Dent & Sons (Everyman’s Library) and Warburg Ltd.

Fired for incompetence in his bank job, Martin Secker apprenticed with publisher Eveleigh Nash from 1908-1910 when he established his own press. Secker published many significant authors, many early in their careers:

“…Compton Mackenzie, D.H. Lawrence, Hugh Walpole, Frank Swinnerton, Norman Douglas, Oliver Onions, Gilbert Cannan, Francis Brett Young, Arthur Machen, Rafael Sabatini; criticism by Lascelles Abercrombie, Edward Thomas, Arthur Ransome, Arthur Symons; the collected poems of James Elroy Flecker, Alfred Douglas, D.H. Lawrence, Emily Dickinson, Edna St Vincent Millay, Martin Armstrong, T.W.H. Crosland, Ford Madox Ford, Maurice Baring; the early plays of Noël Coward. Works in translation included those by Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Gerhart Hauptmann, Arnold Zweig, Leon Feuchtwanger…” (from Martin Secker, Child of The Yellow Book)

Financial difficulties for the firm arose in the early 1930s. Secker collaborated with J.M. Dent & Sons  beginning in 1932. The Week-end Review (vol. 6, p. 289, 1932) indicated that the New Adelphi Library would be “drawing upon the best of the modern literature issued by both these publishing houses.” The periodical British Books (vol. 140, p. 127, 1934) indicated the New Adelphi Library was “published jointly by Martin Secker Ltd., 5 John Street, Adelphi & J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., Bedford Street, London W.C.2. Dent added a half-dozen titles from their catalog to the series, and co-published the others:

Hudson, A Traveller in Little Things (1932)
Conrad, Nostromo (1932)
Conrad, The Rescue (1933)
Conrad, The Shadow-Line (1934)
Boden, Miner (1934)
Mann, Early Sorrow (1934)

Secker’s firm went into receivership in 1934. In 1935 Secker allied with Frederic Warburg and Roger Senhouse (Warburg Ltd.). Martin Secker and Warburg Ltd. lasted until 1937 when the relationship was dissolved and Warburg Ltd. purchased the firm. Secker acquired the rights to publisher Grant Richards catalog, and continued to publish as The Unicorn Press Ltd. 

The initial dust jackets were plain and common to the series, a green clover pattern framing the title and author. A price is included on the spine (3s./6d.) and catalog of titles on the jacket flaps.

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The back of the jacket includes laudatory reviews of the series.

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Green cloth bindings with gold stamping and a series logo centered on the book cover.

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Half-title page includes the title and series name and series number.

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A selected list of authors faces the title page. The date of publication is noted on the title page.

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The copyright page has details of the initial publication of the title along with reprints in the New Adelphi Library.

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This 1928 fourth printing (first, 1926) of Flecker’s Selected Poems includes an annotated series catalog in the rear of the book, through title 50 in the series.

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This 1934 first printing in the New Adelphi Library copy of Mordaunt’s Traveller’s Pack reveals co-publication with J.M. Dent & Sons (on the back of the jacket) and a redesigned dust jacket. The price is gone from the jacket spine. A summary of the title is on the front jacket flap.

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the back of the jacket lists new titles in the series, including some fo the Dent titles.

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The design of this jacket is remarkably similar to the common jacket design for the Modern Library during this time period:

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The Modern Library was the main competitor with Dent’s Everyman’s Library. It is possible that Dent suggested a jacket design similar to the Modern Library. Alas, the Modern Library was not sold in the U.K. and the New Adelphi Library was not sold in the U.S. The design similarities of the jackets are a bit of a mystery.

This copy indicates only Martin Secker as the publisher on the title page.

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The copyright page is similar to the earlier copy in the series.

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The latest titles in the series, as of spring of 1934, are annotated in a catalog at the rear of the book.

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An Autumn 1932 list of new titles in the series is also included.

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Following the new titles is a list of titles (first page only shown below).

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A 1934 first in the New Adelphi Library copy of Conrad’s The Shadow Line is fully a Dent production. The title is under Dent copyright. The jacket is similar to the previous jacket.

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The book itself, however, is very similar to Everyman’s Library titles of the era and unlike previous New Adelphi Library titles. Dent is listed as the publisher on the book spine.

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The copyright page information follows the exact format that the copyright page follows in Everyman’s Library books.

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The book was printed at Dent’s Temple Press.

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It seems that Dent was doing the financially strapped Martin Secker a favor by including popular authors (Conrad) in the New Adelphi Library and actually printing and distributing the series. This is an odd instance of altruism in the publishing of reprint series.

By the time of this 3rd reprint in the New Adelphi Library series (1936, first 1926) Secker and Warburg have combined and Warburg is added to the rear of the jacket.

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The new titles listed on the back of the jacket have not changed since the 1934 edition shown above.

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The title page indicates Secker and Warburg. The title in the rear of this volume goes up to #78.

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