Novels of Distinction

Grosset & Dunlap (New York, US)
Series dates: 1928-1942
Size: 5.5″ x 8″

Founded in 1898 by George T. Dunlap and Alexander Grosset (who had worked together at the American Publishers Corporation), Grosset and Dunlap was known largely as a reprint publisher, early on pirating titles from other publishers and purchasing lots of paperback books which they rebound and sold. Some original “Miniature Book,” were published, mostly for juveniles (Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and Lone Ranger series). Grosset & Dunlap continues as an imprint of Penguin books.


Novels of Distinction was a mid-century series of contemporary literature, mostly fiction, decently bound with attractive jackets. It was a sub-series of Books of Distinction, which also included Non-Fiction of DistinctionPulitzer Prize Novels and Juveniles of Distinction. The series shows up in advertising and various books in print materials around 1928. Dates for books in the series are often much earlier: Grosset and Dunlap typically did not include a date of printing, only copyright date. The copyright dates tend to be in the teens and twenties.

In 1932 Grosset & Dunlap began to sell their Universal Library series which consisted of reprinted 19th-century literary classics.

Hugh Walpole’s Fortitude has a 1913 copyright but is most likely printed around 1930. Jackets are unique to each title. The series name is not included on the jacket spine or front. The front jacket flap provides a prospectus for the series (“de luxe editions of a group of novels appealing to that growing body of readers with refined and sophisticated taste.”). A list of titles in the series begins (and continues on the rear flap).


The 68 titles available in the series continue on the rear flap. The back of the jacket is devoted to the author and title.


Maroon cloth bindings have two color printing and decorations.


The half-title page:


A nicely designed, two-color title page:


The copyright page: