William Collins & Sons (London, Glasgow, UK)
Series dates: 1950-1957
Size: 5.25″ x 8″
Collins used the St. James’s Library name on a series for a short time in the 1920s. Chatto & Windus also used the name for a series of nonfiction titles around 1929. The name was revived for a series of full-size reprints they began to issue in 1950. 15 titles were issued in all, with 21 series numbers (6 were not published). Two common dust jacket designs were used.
“Usually fiction,” as the dust jacket describes the series. The series was advertised in the London Times in October of 1950 with the initial six titles:
Prices were advertised as 6s. for fiction and 8s. 6d for nonfiction. 15 titles were eventually issued, the last in 1952, with reprints through 1957.
Jackets are common to the series, indicate the series name and summarize the book on the jacket flap. At least two common designs exist. The series number is on the spine. This copy of Winifred Holtby’s South Riding is dated 1950.
The rear jacket flap includes a brief biography of the author. The series is advertised on the back jacket cover, including forthcoming titles that were not published (according to WorldCat).
Bindings are cloth with gold stamping.
The half-title page includes the series and series number.
The series titles are listed facing the title page.
Printing date and original publication date are included on the copyright page.
The jacket for South Riding includes the first six titles, published in the fall of 1950, and four more titles, to be issued in the spring of 1951. The latter four are series numbers 7, 9, 11 and 14 which indicates the series had a pre-selected list of titles and not all were ready for the spring 1951 publication date. Another note distinguishes the even from the odd titles: odd series numbers are typically fiction, even non-fiction.
In announcing the first six titles of the new ST JAMES’S LIBRARY the Editors have pleasure in outlining the purpose of the Library, which is to make permanently available, in a uniform series, books of recognised merit, both fiction and non-fiction, handsomely produced, yet moderately priced.
The first of the series to appear simultaneously in the Autumn of 1950 are
1. Potterism, by Rose Macaulay
2. Bernard Shaw, by Hesketh Pearson
3. The Sword In The Stone, by T.H. White
4. Byron: The Years Of Fame, by Peter Quennell
5. South Riding, by Winifred Holtby
6. Sir Walter Raleigh, by Milton Waldman
These will be followed in the Spring of 1951 by
7. The Weather in The Streets, by Rosamond Lehmann
9. Mine Own Executioner, by Nigel Balchin
11. Beyond The Chindwin, by Bernard Fergusson
13. Cricket Country, by Edmund Blunden
The odd numbers refer to Large Cr. 8vo volumes, usually fiction, price 6s. net. The even numbers represent Demy 8vo volumes, in most cases non-fiction, at 8s.6d. net.
A 1952 edition of The Wild Green Earth by Bernard Fergusson has a redesigned jacket that appeared in 1952. Jacket colors varied (green, red, blue), and this redesigned jacket may have been applied to earlier, unsold series titles. The series number (in this case, #21) and series name are on the jacket spine. The front jacket flap includes quotes from reviews of the book and a 7s. 6d. net price.
Fifteen titles, with varying prices, are listed on the back of the jacket. A brief biography of the author is included on the rear jacket flap.
The book design is the same as the copy above, except in blue cloth and with a Glasgow Academy insignia on the front of the book. “Prize Books” were an important market throughout much of the 20th century for series books.
An award plate is pasted on the front free endpaper.
A full list of the fifteen published titles in the St. James Library. Series titles are numbered to 21, but six titles (all the even titles after and including 10) were apparently not published.
1. Potterism, by Rose Macaulay (1950)
2. Bernard Shaw, by Hesketh Pearson (1950)
3. The Sword In The Stone, by T.H. White (1950, *1954)
4. Byron: The Years Of Fame, by Peter Quennell (1950)
5. South Riding, by Winifred Holtby (*1950)
6. Sir Walter Raleigh, by Milton Waldman (1950)
7. The Weather in The Streets, by Rosamond Lehmann (1951)
8. Byron in Italy, by Peter Quennell (1951)
9. Mine Own Executioner, by Nigel Balchin (1951)
11. Beyond The Chindwin, by Bernard Fergusson (1951)
13. Cricket Country, by Edmund Blunden (1951)
15. England Have My Bones, by T.H. White (*1952)
17. The Nutmeg Tree, by Margery Sharp (1951)
19. Surfeit of Lampreys, by Ngaio Marsh (1951)
21. The Wild Green Earth, by Bernard Fergusson (*1952, 1957)
*Redesigned dust jacket