Oxford Standard Authors

Oxford University Press (London, UK)
Series dates: 1904-1980
Size: 5.5″ x 7.5″

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According to the History of Oxford University Press (2013, Volume III: 1896 to 1970) the Oxford University Press was responding to a growing interest among the middle classes in classics of English literature when it created the Oxford Standard Authors series in 1904. The series built on earlier Oxford editions of the Complete Works of Shakespeare (edited by W.J. Craig, published beginning in 1894) and was seen as a response to popular classics series such as Macmillan’s Globe Library.

The series was carefully edited and printed, authoritative and scholarly. An advertisement from a 1921 issue of The Periodical (vol. 8, issue 112) includes an advertisement for “Prose and Poetry by Women,” including titles in the Oxford Standard Authors and World’s Classics series.

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A copy of the Oxford Standard Authors volume for Shelley was published for the New York office of the Oxford University Press in 1929. There was likely at least one jacket and book design preceding this style. A typical jacket has a decorative border with the author/title printed in a contrasting color. The jackets are common to the series, and probably printed in two stages (a generic jacket, then overprinted with particular titles). The front jacket flap on this copy is blank. The series name is on the jacket spine and front.

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As of 1929 there were 89 titles in the series. It’s not clear if the US and UK series had different titles.

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Bindings are solid blue, a fake leather material similar to that used on the World’s Classics during the same time. Gold stamping and some debossing on the covers.

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There is no half-title page. A portrait of the author faces the title page. The title page includes the specific date of printing.

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This copy, sold by the New York office of OUP, was printed in Great Britain.

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The series is redesigned in the late 1940s, then again in the 1960s and 1970s. Titles show up in print through the 1980s, but by then the series was largely defunct.