Services Library

Chatto & Windus (London, UK)
Series dates: 1941-1943
Size: 7.5″ x 5″

In the realm of specialized reprint series, those intended for the armed services are a curious but functional idea, given the amount of spare time soldiers often found themselves with. Chatto and Windus issued its WW1 era Khaki Library in 1915. Two series with the Services Library name were issued in 1939 and 1941, by Blackie and Chatto & Windus, in the early part of WW2.

The Services Library name seems to have been first used by Blackie for a series issued in 1937. The advertisement shown here is from the Times Literary Supplement, October 28, 1939 (p. 618). The series offered “Worthwhile reading in compact form. Ideal for the pocket, kitbag, haversack.” The books are all older, classic titles, small in format.

Titles in Blackie’s Service library include:

Emerson, Essays
Essays of Elia
Hazlitt, Essays
Herrick, Poems
Imitation of Christ
Johnson, Table Talk

I have not seen a book from this series, nor are any books cataloged under that name in WorldCat, but I’m guessing that series titles are from Blackie’s Wallet Library, most likely with (as is the case with most Wallet Library titles) no date and no indication of series on or in the book, with a Services Library dust jacket.

Chatto & Windus issued their own Services Library in 1941 when a few mentions of the series appear in periodicals. At least 14 titles were published beginning in 1941. A note in the Times Literary Supplement, February 22, 1941 (p. 92) describes the “urgent need” for books for the “fighting forces.” Unlike Blackie’s series of old-school classics, the Chatto & Windus series consisted of contemporary fiction and non-fiction. The titles seem to be all originally published in the 1930s and were back catalog titles from Chatto & Windus. Some were left-over original editions (those dated prior to 1941) and others reprints of original editions. None seem to have had any changes in the book from the original edition (eg., no indication they were part of the Services Library) with the possible exception of binding color (in some cases). They were wrapped in a new jacket with the series name. It’s not clear how long these books were offered, but probably no more than one or two years beyond 1941.

Another mention, a few months later, of Chatto & Windus’ Services Library is in the Times Literary Supplement, April 12, 1941 (p. 1).

There is no indication of the series name on or in the books, so a jacket is required to know if the book is part of the series. The years printed in the books don’t necessarily correlate to the year the series was issued. This is because the series seems to have consisted of at least some titles that were unsold (and possibly unbound) in Chatto & Windus’ warehouses. The years indicated on the books that I’ve confirmed are in the series (I’ve seen a copy of the book in a jacket) range from 1933 to 1941.

Jackets are common to the series. This copy of C.E. Montague’s Rough Justice is dated 1941 and is the 14th printing of the book, probably printed and bound especially for the Services Library series. The rather boisterous jacket design, by Enid Marx, incorporates blank areas to print the specific title and author. The spine includes the price (2/6 net) but not the publisher. The front of the jacket is emblazoned with the series name, and the lower right corner has a stylized drawing of a dancing lion and unicorn, looking happy and slightly drunk. The front jacket flap includes a quote from a review of Rough Justice and guides the reader to the rear of the jacket for more titles in the series. The jacket designer (Marx) and price are also included on the front jacket flap.

The Union Jack is the inspiration for the rear jacket design. The back includes a list of 9 titles in the series (missing #5, which was probably out of print at the time the jacket was printed).

The initial 10 titles in the series are listed below, with the year that appears on the books in the series with the Services Library jacket. In some cases, the printing seems to be explicitly for the Services Library. In others (in particular those with 1930s dates) the books were probably left-overs, rejacketed as part of the series. At least four more titles were issued after the initial 10.

#1. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (1940)
#2. China Seas, by Crosbie Garstin
#3. Go Marry, by Brendan Williams (1935)
#4. Houp La!, by Crosbie Garstin
*#5. Famous Murders, by George A. Birmingham
#6. Mr. Jubenka, by Adrian Alington
#7. Rogue Male, by Geoffrey Household (1941)
#8. Rough Justice, by C.E. Montague (1941)
#9. Stoker Bush, by James Hanley
#10. The Stranger in the House, by Howard Coxe

I have found an additional four titles with Services Library jackets. I do not know the series number of any of these titles:

#?. Under Two Flags, by Ouida (1937)
#?. Pocahontas, by David Garnett (1933)
#?. A Note In Music, by Rosamond Lehmann
#?: Cuckoo in June, by Jane Oliver & Ann Stafford (1935)

* From the rear of the jacket for a copy of #7, Rogue Male (1941)

A simple cloth binding in blue with red typography and decorations:

The half-title page:

Additional titles by C.E. Montague face the title page. The title page includes the year of printing.

“First Published: March 4, 1926; Fourteenth Printing: January 1941.”

“Printed in Great Britain. All Rights Reserved.”

The first page of text in the book:

“Printed in Great Britain by R. & R. Clarke, Limited, Edinburgh.”