Phoenix Library

Chatto & Windus (London, UK)
Series Dates: 1928-1945, New Phoenix Library: 1950-1956
Size:¬†7″ x 4.5″; New Phoenix Library, 7.25″ x 4.5

The Phoenix Library series name was used in 1849 for a series published by Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans (London, UK), and in 1850 for what may be the same series, published by C. Gilpin (London, UK). It was reused by publisher David Nutt (London, UK) in a very short-lived series in 1904.

phoe_logoChatto and Windus used the Phoenix Library name in 1928 for their series which reached at least 121 titles (with one additional title announced but not published) in 1938 (see list below). Most of the titles in the series were from Chatto & Windus’ significant back catalog. The publisher claimed the series would focus on daring books that would drive conversation and controversy. The series, like many others, diminished during WW2 but was revived as the New Phoenix Library in 1950. That incarnation of the series lasted until 1956 with at least 32 titles (see mostly complete list below).

A related series, the Centaur Library, was issued first in 1930 at a larger 8vo size, to use up leftover sheets from the original printings of Chatto and Windus titles. Once the original sheets were gone, a title might transfer from the Centaur Library to the Phoenix Library, although Chatto and Windus were very selective about which titles went into the Phoenix Library.

In either case, the reprint series allowed the publisher to squeeze a bit more profit out of a title by selling (cheap) copies of a title to a new “downmarket” audience. Ultimately, cheap publisher’s back catalog series were not huge money makers, but a way to generate profits that moved moderate selling titles into the black (even if that was years after the initial publication).

Jacket and book design for the Phoenix Library¬†(by Thomas Derrick) changed little over 1928-1945. A common jacket design using stylized phoenix¬†and flowers cover the front and rear of the jackets. The bright and distinctive jackets were part of the marketing of such series: a shelf or two of uniform red jacketed books would undoubtedly grab the eye of consumers. This copy of Huxley’s Those Barren Leaves is 1928. Price is 3s./6d.


Eighteen titles are listed in the series as of the printing of this book (#14, 1928)


Bindings are blue with gold stamping. The designs from the jacket continue to the binding. Binding colors correlated with particular authors. Thus all the Huxley books in the series had blue bindings. Instead of issuing a cheap library of Huxley titles, for example, many of Huxley’s books were issued in the Phoenix Library and one could purchase a subset of the Phoenix Library as a run of uniform books from one author.¬†Books in the Phoenix Library were of approximately uniform width (attained by the use of different weight paper, this was also done by and possibly inspired by¬†Everyman’s Library).


Half-title page:


A list of titles in the series (same as those listed on the back of the jacket) faces the title page.


The copyright page indicates original printing information and printing information in the series.


Two 1928 titles: Limbo by Aldous Huxley and Plays by Richard Hughes. 18 titles are also listed on the back of these jackets.


Huxley’s Mortal Coils and On the Margin and Powys’ Mr. Weston’s Good Wine are all¬†1928 titles and show 20 titles on the back of the jacket.

phoe_djs2 phoe_djs3

A two-volume set of Proust’s Swann’s Way was first published in the series in 1929 and show 21 titles on the rear of the jackets. Many Proust titles were published in two volumes as their length precluded a single volume of the thickness that was uniform throughout the series.


Montague’s A Writer’s Notes on His Trade is a 1931 first printing in the series. The series has 77 titles at this time. Huxley’s Two or Three Graces is a 1933 printing with 121 titles listed on the jacket.


Montague’s Fiery Particles is a 1936 third printing in the series (first 1928, second, 1930). The jacket is not updated to the current (as of 1936) titles in the series. A sticker indicates a price increase to 4s.


Red bindings appear on this title and also an earlier title (Montague’s A Writer’s Notes on Writing). Theoretically, all of Montague’s titles in the Phoenix Library should be bound in red.


The New Phoenix Library rose from the ashes of the old in 1950 with a slightly larger book that mostly¬†followed the design of the pre-war series. The new series reached at least 32 titles with Hughes’ High Wind in Jamaica first published in 1956. A few reprints occur after that date, but no new titles. Along with the better selling titles from the pre-war series, additional titles were added from the Hogarth Press back catalog (managed by Chatto & Windus since 1946).

Below is #13 in the new series, Warner’s Lolly Willowes, first printing in the New Phoenix Library in 1950. The series name is different on the jacket and in the book, but the stylized phoenix and flowers patterns continue on jackets common to all titles in the series. The new series name and series numbers are included on the jacket spine. Price is 6s.


The jacket back includes titles up to #16, Mackenzie’s Vestal Fire.


The binding is redesigned from the earlier series and bound in yellow cloth.


Half-title page:


The title page does not include a catalog on the facing page.


Copyright page has old blue tape over some text (cannot be read).


Menen’s The Backward Bride is a 1955 first printing in the series, near the end of the second incarnation of the Phoenix Library. 29 titles are indicated, some titles are available in paper boards for 3s./6d.


The bindings on this (1955) book are on blue cloth with a modified set of decorations.


A list of 121 (122 announced) Phoenix Library titles (slightly modified from Phoenix Library: Book Series List and Publisher Series: The Phoenix Library with input from David Pearman):

1. Queen Victoria, Lytton Strachey
2. Eminent Victorians, Lytton Strachey
3. Antic Hay, Aldous Huxley
4. Along the Road, Aldous Huxley
5. Tales of the Five Towns, Arnold Bennett. 1928.
6. The Mercy of Allah, Hilaire Belloc. 1928.
7. Lady into Fox and A Man in the Zoo, David Garnett
8. Books and Characters, Lytton Strachey
9. Fiery Particles, C. E. Montague
10. First Plays, A. A. Milne
11. Chrome Yellow, Aldous Huxley
12. Art, Clive Bell
13. Disenchantment, C. E. Montague
14. Those Barren Leaves, Aldous Huxley
15. Vision and Design, Roger Fry
16. Essays of a Biologist, Julian Huxley
17. Plays, Richard Hughes
18. Limbo, Aldous Huxley
19. Second Plays, A. A. Milne
20. The Right Place, C. E. Montague
21.¬†The Sailor’s Return,¬†David Garnett
22. Mortal Coils, Aldous Huxley
23. Mr. Weston’s Good Wine,¬†T. F. Powys.
24. Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner. 1928.
25. On the Margin, Aldous Huxley.
26. The Grim Smile of the Five Towns, Arnold Bennett. 1928
27. Tarr, Wyndham Lewis.
28. Little Mexican, Aldous Huxley.
29. Love and Friendship and Other Early Works, Jane Austen. 1929.
30. Three Plays, A. A. Milne.
31. The House with the Echo, T. F. Powys.
32. Swann’s Way (Vol. 1),¬†Marcel Proust.
33. Swann’s Way (Vol. 2),¬†Marcel Proust.
34. Essays in Popular Science, Julian Huxley.
35. A Short History of England, G. K. Chesterton.
36. Two or Three Graces, Aldous Huxley.
37. Hadrian VII,¬†Fr. Rolfe (“Baron Corvino”).
38. The Gentle Art of Cookery, Mrs. C. F. Leyel and Miss Olga Hartley.
39. Rough Justice, C. E. Montague.
40. Four Plays, A. A. Milne.
41. Since Cezanne, Clive Bell.
42. In the Beginning, Norman Douglas.
43. Within a Budding Grove (Vol. 1), Marcel Proust.
44. Within a Budding Grove (Vol. 2), Marcel Proust.
45. Proper Studies, Aldous Huxley.
46. Mr. Tasker’s Goods,¬†T. F. Powys.
47. Don Tarquinio,¬†Fr. Rolfe (“Baron Corvino”).
48. Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology, Harold Munro, ed. 1931.
49. Jesting Pilate, Aldous Huxley.
50. Dusty Answer, Rosamund Lehman. 1930.
51. A Moment of Time, Richard Hughes.
52. Possible Worlds, J. B. S. Haldane.
53. The Spanish Farm, R. H. Mottram.
54. In the Midst of Life, Ambrose Bierce.
55. Action, C. E. Montague.
56. Tales, August Strindberg. 1930.
57. Ernst Junger, The Storm of Steel.
58. Death of a Hero, Richard Aldington.
59. Et Cetera: A Collection, Augustine Birrell. 1930.
60. Ten Years Ago: Armistice and Other Memories, R. H. Mottram.
61. Fables, T. F. Powys.
62. The Guermantes Way (Vol. 1), Marcel Proust.
63. The Guermantes Way (Vol. 2), Marcel Proust.
64. Brief Candles, Aldous Huxley.
65. The Charterhouse of Parma, Stendhal (Henry Beyle).
66. How About Europe?, Norman Douglas.
67. Selected Poems, Coventry Patmore.
68. The Journal of a Disappointed Man, W. N. P. Barbellion.
69. Eighteenth-Century Poetry: An Anthology, W. J. Turner, ed. 1931.
70. Shchedrin (M. E. Saltykov), Fables. 1931.
71. Do What You Will, Aldous Huxley.
72. A Writer’s Notes on his Trade,¬†C. E. Montague.
73. A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes.
74. Medallions, Richard Aldington.
75. No Love, David Garnett.
76. Dramatic Values, C. E. Montague.
77. Humorous Verse: An Anthology, Knox, E. V.
78. Nineteenth Century Poetry: An Anthology, John Hayward, ed. 1931.
79. Civilization, Clive Bell.
80. Selections from Remy de Gourmont, Richard Aldington.
81. Music at Night, Aldous Huxley.
82. Elizabeth and Essex, Lytton Strachey.
83. Sanctuary, William Faulkner
84. Portraits in Miniature and Other Essays, Lytton Strachey
85. What Dare I Think?, Julian Huxley
86. Hindoo Holiday: An Indian Journal, J.R. Ackerley
87. The Poems of Wilfred Owen
88.¬†An Innkeeper’s Diary,¬†John Fothergill
89.¬†The Colonel’s Daughter,¬†Richard Aldington
90. Voltaire, Richard Aldington
91. Joseph and His Brethren, H. W. Freeman
92. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
93. Roads to Glory, Richard Aldington
94. All Men are Enemies: A Romance, Richard Aldington
95. Bird Watching and Behaviour, Julian Huxley
96. Limitations of Science, John William Navin Sullivan
97. Soft Answers, Richard Aldington
98. Confessio Juvenis: Collected Poems, Richard Arthur Warren Hughes
99. Light in August, William Faulkner
100. Texts & Pretexts: An Anthology with Commentaries, Aldous Huxley.
101. The Grasshoppers Come and A Rabbit in the Air, David Garnett
102. Ants, Julian Huxley
103. Three Sisters and Other Plays, Anton Tchehov
104. Cherry Orchard and Other Plays, Anton Tchehov
105. These Hurrying Years, Gerald Heard
106. The Wind on the Heath: An Anthology, edited by John Sampson
107. Peking Picnic, Ann Bridge
108. Sodom and Gomorrah: Part 1, Marcel Proust
109. Sodom and Gomorrah: Part 2, Marcel Proust
110. Characters and Commentaries, Lytton Strachey
111. Delina Delaney, Amanda M. Ros
112. Beany Eye, David Garnett
113. Poems of Tomorrow, Janet Adam-Smith
114. The Open Air, Richard Jefferies
115. The Life of the Fields, Richard Jefferies
116. Nature Near London, Richard Jefferies
117. The Progress of Poetry: An Anthology, edited by I.M. Parsons
118. The Olive Tree, Aldous Huxley
119. Life With Father, Clarence Day
120. Life With Mother, Clarence Day
*121. Hang!, Frank Penn-Smith
122. Beyond the Mexique Bay, Aldous Huxley

* David Pearman indicates that this title was not published, according to the archivist at Chatto & Windus. David also supplied several missing titles for this list.

A partial list of 32 New Phoenix Library titles (slightly modified from New Phoenix Library: Book Series List):

1. After Many a Summer, Aldous Huxley
2. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
3.¬†Mr. Weston’s Good Wine,¬†T. E. Powys
4. Mrs. Miniver, Jan Struther
5. All Passion Spent, Victoria Sackville-West
6. In the Midst of Life, Ambrose Bierce
7. Hadrian VII, Fr. Rolfe
8. The Village in the Jungle, Leonard Woolf
9.¬†The Sailor’s Return,¬†David Garnett
10.¬†Soldier’s Pay,¬†William Faulkner
11. The Charterhouse of Parma, Stendhal
12. Sado, William Plomer
13. Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner
14. Fiery Particles, C. E. Montague
15. A Short History of England, G.K. Chesterton
16. Vestal Fire, Compton Mackenzie
17. The Grasshoppers Come and A Rabbit in the Air, David Garnett
18. The Edwardian, V. Sackville-West
19. In Hazard: A Sea Story, Richard Hughes
20. Dead Man Leading: A Novel. V. S. Pritchett
21. Goodbye To Berlin, Christopher Isherwood
22. Fireman Flower, William Sansom
23. The Spanish Farm, R.H. Mottram
24. Amateur Sailor, Robert Harling
25. The Prevalence of Witches, Aubrey Menen
26.¬†Brother Petroc’s Return, Sister Mary Catherine
27. Pylon, William Faulkner
28. The Duke of Gollodoro, Aubrey Menen
29. The Backward Bride, Aubrey Menen
30. ?
31. ?
32.  High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes

This entry was fortified by the excellent chapter “Chatto & Windus and the Phoenix Library” by Andrew Nash. Published as chapter 9 in John Spiers, ed. The Culture of the Publisher’s Series, vol. 1 (2011, Palgrave Macmillan).