Wisdom of the East Series

Orient Press (London, UK)
Series dates: 1904-1922

John Murray (London, UK)
Series dates: 1904-1992
Size: 4.75″ x 6.5″

E.P. Dutton (New York, US)
Series dates: 1904-1944

Grove Press (New York, US)
Series dates: 1951-1981

Paragon Book Gallery (New York, US)
Series dates: 1963-1986

Allen Upward … “became interested in Chinese literature at the turn of the century under the influence of Launcelot Cranmer-Byng (1872-1945), a poet who had studied Marquis d’Hervey Saint-Denys’ French version of Tang poetry and Professor Herbert A. Giles’ English version of Chinese gems. In 1900, Upward and Cranmer-Byng founded a small printing firm in London, which later became the Orient Press that started the “Wisdom of the East” series. (Orientalism and Modernism: The Legacy of China in Pound and Williams, by Zhaoming Qian. Duke University Press, 1995). Cranmer-Byng and S.A. Kapadia were the primary editors of the Wisdom of the East series, to which Upward contributed several titles.

Upward and Cranmer-Byng established a printing firm called the Yellow Press in 1900. There are no WorldCat entries for this publisher suggesting they did not issue any substantive books under the imprint. Upward was in Nigeria, serving as British proconsul, approximately 1901-1903, before returning to England after contracting malaria. The name of the firm was changed to the Primrose Press at some time before October 10, 1903 (reported in The Athenaeum, Oct 10, 1903). At least two books were published in 1903, including High Treason, a romance by Upward, and On His Majesty’s Service; the Story of Tariff Reform, also by Upward. Both were reprinted under the Primrose imprint in 1904, and no other publications follow (according to WorldCat). The Primrose Press firm was dissolved by Upward and Cranmer-Byng Nov. 14, 1903 (The Bookseller, Jan. 19, 1904). The Orient Press with its Wisdom of the East series was then established and began issuing titles in the series. (Source: “Alan Upward,” in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Gale: 1977).

The Wisdom of the East Series was an influential and long-lived series, spanning nearly a century, at least 5 publishers, and at least 128 titles. First issued within the context of a growing interest in Asian literature and art, the series served as an outlet for literary translations of classics, anthologies, and some literary theory. Many of the titles were reprinted numerous times over many years, suggesting the quality of the titles.

After what must have been an overwhelming success with the series, it was transferred to publisher John Murray, who had the resources to print and distribute the series in an effective manner. This situation is similar to the World’s Classics, which were originally issued by Grant Richards, who became overwhelmed by their popularity (and could not keep up with demand) and so sold the series to the Oxford University Press.

The Orient Press issued, as far as I can tell, seven titles in the series in 1904. At least two titles appear in the series under the Murray imprint in 1904, with at least 10 titles following in 1905. Subsequently, Murray typically published a few new titles each year through the last new title issued in the series in 1962 (Burmese Proverbs, by U. Hla Pe). A few titles appear with the Orient Press imprint after 1904 (up to 1911).

Dutton published the series in the US, roughly in tandem with Murray’s UK issuing of titles, through WW2. In 1917 Dutton copies could be had for .50 cents (softcover) .80 cents (hardcover). A few Dutton titles appear with 1904 and 1905 dates, but a small flood appear in 1906, with the majority (but not all) titles issued by Murray in the UK being issued by Dutton in the US until 1944 (the last issued by Dutton was A Further Selection from the Three Hundred Poems of the T’ang Dynasty, by Hengtangtuishi, Soame Jenyns). Dutton does issue reprints as late as 1977.

The Grove Press and The Paragon Book Gallery issued and/or distributed Wisdom of the East series titles in the US after WW2. The Grove Press imprint appears on titles in the 1950s and 1960s. Paragon takes over in the early 1960s, distributing titles until the 1980s. Paragon Book Gallery was and is a bookstore focused on Asian titles, in New York City at the time the series was issued, and later moving to Chicago (where it still exists). In 1963 the Antiquarian Bookman reported that the “Paragon Book Reprint Corp (140 E 59, NY) has been formed by Max Faerber as a subsidiary of his Paragon Book Gallery. In addition to new titles and reprints it will distribute in US the Wisdom of the East series, etc.”

Several other reprint companies issue titles from the series from the 1980s onward, again suggesting the longevity of many of the titles in the series.

Titles in the Wisdom of the East series are a peculiar size, a bit wider than typical, resulting in a small, squat book that is referred to as “Pott 16mo.” This copy of A Feast of Lanterns, edited by series founder and editor L(auncelot!) Cranmer-Byng, was first issued in 1916; this is a 1936 third printing.

Early jacket design lacks any graphic elements, and are common to the series. A second design added sometime in the late teens or early twenties adds a graphic element to the jackets, such as the string of lanterns on the jacket below. The book title and price (3/6 net) are on the jacket spine. The front of the jacket includes the graphic, title, editor, translator or introduction author, and a blurb about the book. “Third Impression” is also included. The publisher (Murray) price and a circular series colophon are included on the bottom left and right corners of the jacket front. The front jacket flap lists and blurbs two additional titles in the series.

The rear of the jacket lists titles available in the series (via Murray) in the late 1930s. Books are in categories: New Volumes, Indian, Iranian, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, and Egyptian. “For details see list at end of book” is stated, but in this particular copy, there is no catalog in the back of the book. The rear jacket flap blurbs the series.

The cloth bindings are relatively cheap with coarse cloth glued over cardboard. The illustration from the jacket is carried over on the front of the book, as is the book’s title and series name (in a rectangle, rather than a circle).

The half-title page includes the two series editors and the book’s title.

The title page:

The copyright page inclues a note from the editor as well as the printing history of the volume.

“Printed in Great Britain by Hazel, Watson & Viney Ltd., London, and Aylesbury.”


An “I think it’s complete” list of titles in the Wisdom of the East series is below.

Murray published all titles in the series, 128 at my count. The Orient Press imprint (*) appears on 10 titles, the Dutton imprint (**) on most (82), but not all titles published before 1944. The Grove imprint (***) appears on 11 and Paragon imprint (****) on 22 titles after WW2. It’s probable that Grove and Paragon distributed most if not all of the titles, but their imprint may not have been on every book.

I documented the earliest year I found for each title published by Murray and Dutton and Grove Press. Paragon copies seem to retain the earlier printing years for most of the titles they distributed in the US. All Paragon books were distributed in or after 1963.

This list is probably complete title-wise, but most likely has mistakes with years as well as with Grove Press and Paragon copies from the series.

**Abu’l-Ala, the Syrian, by Henry Baerlein (M: 1914, D: 1914)
**Alchemy of Happiness, by Al-Ghazzali, Claud Field (M: 1909, D: 1910)
**Ancient Egyptian Legends, by Margaret Alice Murray (M: 1913, D: 1913)
**Ancient Indian Fables and Stories, by Stanley Rice (M: 1924, D: 1924)
* **Ancient Jewish Proverbs, by Abraham Cohen (O: 1911, M: 1911, D: 1911)
**Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Poems, by C. Elissa Sharpley (M: 1925, D: 1925)
**Anthology of Modern Indian Poetry, by Gwendoline Goodwin (M: 1927, D: 1927)
***An Arab Philosophy of History, by Ibn Khaldun (M: 1950, GP: 1958)
**Arabian Wisdom, by John Wortabe (ed.) (M: 1907, D: 1908)
****The Autumn Wind, by Issa Kobayashi, Lewis Mackenzie (M: 1957, PBG:?)
Avicenna on Theology, by Avicenna, A.J. Arberry (M: 1950)
* **Awakening of the Soul, by Ibn Tufayl (O: 1904, M: 1905, D: 1908)
**Book of Filial Duty, by Confucius, Zengzi, Ivan Chên (M: 1907, D: 1909)
****The Book of Lieh-Tzu, by Liezi, A.C. Graham (M: 1960, PBG:?)
**The Book of Mencius, by Mencius, Lionel Giles (M: 1942, D: 1942)
* **Brahma Knowledge, by Lionel D. Barnett (ed.) (O: 1907, M: 1907, D: 1909)
**Buddha’s Way of Virtue, by W.D.C. Wagiswara and K.J. Saunders (translators) (M: 1912, D: 1912)
The Buddhist Pilgrim’s Progress, by Helen M. Hayes, Cheng’en Wu (M: 1930, D: 1930)
**Buddhist Psalms, by S. Yamabe and L. Adams Beck (M: 1921, D: 1921)
**Buddhist Scriptures (Translated from the Pali), by E. J. Thomas (M: 1913, D: 1913)
**Burden of Isis, by James Teackle Dennis (M: 1910, D: 1910)
Burmese Proverbs, by U. Hla Pe (M: 1962)
**Bustan (“Garden”) of Sadi, by Sadi, A. Hart Edwards (trans.) (M: 1911, D: 1911)
Chinese Buddhist Verse, by Richard H. Robinson (M: 1954)
**Christ in Islam, by James Robson (M: 1929, D: 1930)
**The Classics of Confucius I: Book of History (Shu-King), by W. Gorn Old (ed.) (M: 1906, D: 1908)
**The Classics of Confucius II: Book of Odes (Shi-King), by L. Cranmer-Byng (ed.) (M: 1906, D: 1908)
**The Cloud-Men of Yamato, by E.V. Gatenby (M: 1929, D: 1929)
**The Cloud-Messenger, by Kalidasa, Charles King (M: 1930, D: 1930)
**The Coming of Karuna, by Ranjee Shahani (M: 1934, D: 1934)
**The Conduct of Life, by Zisi, Confucius (M: 1908, D: 1909)
**Confessions of Al Ghazzali, Al Ghazzali, Claud Field (ed.) (M: 1909, D: 1909)
***A Confucian Notebook, by Edward Herbert (M: 1950, GP: 1950)
**The Creative East, J.W.T. Mason (M: 1928, D: 1928)
Dao de Jing, by Laozi, J. J. L. Duyvendak (M: 1954)
****The Dhammapada, by Narada (M: 1954, PBG:?)
** ****Diwan of Abu’l-Ala, Henry Baerlein (trans.) (M: 1908, D: 1909, PBG:?)
**Diwan of Zeb-un-Nissa, by Zeb-un-Nissa, Magan Lal and Duncan Westbrook (trans.) (M: 1913, D: 1913)
* **Duties of the Heart, by Rabbi Bachye (O: 1904, M: 1904, D: 1909)
****Eastern Science, by Henry James Jacques Winter (M: 1952, PBG:?)
Egyptian Religious Poetry, by Margaret Alice Murray (M: 1949)
**An Essay on Landscape Painting, by Hsi Kuo, Shiho Sakanishi (M: 1935, D: 1936)
** ****A Feast of Lanterns, by L. Cranmer-Byng (M: 1916, D: 1916, PBG:?)
****A Flight of Swans, by Rabindranath Tagore (M: 1955, PBG:?)
** *** ****Flight of the Dragon, by Laurence Binyon (M: 1911, D: 1911, GP: 1961, PBG:?)
** ****A Further Selection from the Three Hundred Poems of the T’ang Dynasty, by Hengtangtuishi, Soame Jenyns (M: 1944, D: 1944, PBG:?)
A Gallery of Chinese Immortals, by Lionel Giles (M: 1948)
**Garden of Pleasure, by Yang Chu, Anton Forke (trans.) (M: 1912, D: 1912)
The Glad Tidings of Bahá’u’lláh, by Baháulláh (M: 1949)
**The Golden Breath, by Mulk Raj Anand (M: 1933, D: 1933)
***The Harvest of Leisure, Kenko Yoshida (M: 1931, GP: 1960)
The Herald of Spring, by Rabindranath Tagore (M: 1957)
** ****The Herald Wind, Clara M.Candlin (M: 1933, D: 1934, PBG:?)
* **The Heart of India, by Lionel D. Barnett (O: 1908, M: 1908, D: 1908)
**Himalayas of the Soul, by Juan Mascaró, S. Radhakrishnan (M: 1938, D: 1938)
*Hindu Gods and Heroes, by Lionel Barnett (O: 1922, M: 1922)
The Hymns of Zarathustra, by Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin (M: 1952)
**The Instruction of Ptah-Hotep, by Ptah-Hetep, Battiscombe George Gunn (trans.) (M: 1906, D: 1908)
Japanese Literature, by Donald Keene (M: 1953)
Jataka Tales, Ethel Beswick (M: 1956)
****Karma and Rebirth, by Christmas Humphreys (M: 1943, PBG:?)
*Laili and Majnun, by James Atkinson, James (translator) and L. Cranmer Byng (ed.) (O: 1905)
The Legacy of Asia and Western Man, by Alan Watts (M: 1937)
**Legends of Indian Buddhism, by Eugène Burnouf (M: 1911, D: 1911)
*** ****Literatures of the East, Eric B. Ceadel (M: 1953, GP: 1953, PBG:?)
**Lotuses of the Mahayana, by Kenneth J. Saunders (M: 1924, D: 1924)
**Lute of Jade, by L. Cranmer-Byng (ed.) (M: 1909, D: 1909)
****Malay Proverbs, by Richard Winstedt (M: 1950, PBG:?)
**Manifold Unity, by Vera Christina Chute Collum (M: 1940, D: 1940)
**Master Singers of Japan, By Clara A. Walsh (M: 1910, D: 1910)
**The Message of Islam, by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (M: 1940, D: 1940)
*** ****The Message of Milarepa, by Mi-la-ras-pa, Humphrey Clarke (M: 1958, GP: 1958, PBG:?)
The Mevlidi Sherif, by Süleyman Çelebi, F. Lyman MacCallum (M: 1943)
**Musings of a Chinese Mystic, by Chuang Tzu, Lionel Giles (Trans.) (M: 1906, D: 1908)
****The Mysteries of Selflessness, by Muhammad Iqbal (M: 1953, PBG:?)
**Nogaku: Japanese No Plays, by Beatrice Lane Suzuki (M: 1932, D: 1932)
* **The Odes of Confucius, by Shih Ching, Rabbi Bachye (ed.) (O: 1904, D: 1904, M: 1905)
**Omar Khayyám the Poet, by Omar Khayyam, T.H. Weir (M: 1926, D: 1926)
One In All, by Edith B. Schnapper (M: 1952)
** ***Path of Light, by L.D. Barnett (trans.) (M: 1909, D: 1909, GP: 1959)
****The Perfection of Wisdom, by E.J. Thomas (M: 1952, PBG:?)
** ****Persian Mystics (Rumi), by F. Hadland Davis (M: 1907, D: 1908, PBG:?)
** Persian Mystics (Jami), by F. Hadland Davis (M: 1907, D: 1909)
Persian Proverbs, by L.P. Elwell-Sutton (M: 1954)
Poems from Iqbal, by Sir Muhammad Iqbal (M: 1955)
Poems of Cloister and Jungle, by Caroline A.F. Rhys Davids (M: 1941)
**Poems of Mu’Tamid, by Mu’tamid, Dulcie Lawrence Smith (M: 1915, D: 1915)
***The Poetry of Living Japan, by Takamichi Ninomiya and D.J. Enright (M: 1957, GP: 1957)
The Quest of Enlightenment, by E.J. Thomas (M: 1950)
****The Rapier of Lu, by You Lu, Clara M. Candlin (M: 1946, PBG: ?)
* **Religion of the Koran, by Arthur Wollaston (O: 1904, M: 1904, D: 1908)
**Religion of the Sikhs, by Dorothy Field (M: 1914, D: 1914)
**The Religion of Tibet, by J.E. Ellam (M: 1927, D: 1927)
**The Rhythm of Life, by M.E. Reynolds (trans.), Henri Borel (trans.) (M: 1921, D: 1921)
The Road to Nirvana, by E.J. Thomas (M: 1950)
**Rose Garden of Sa’di, by Cranmer-Byng (trans.) (M: 1905, D: 1909)
**Rubaiyat of Hafiz, by Hafiz, Abd. Majid, L. Cranmer-Byng (M: 1910, D: 1910)
**Sadi’s Scroll of Wisdom, by Sadi, Arthur N. Wollaston (trans.) (M: 1906, D: 1908)
Salma: A Play in Three Acts, by L. Cranmer-Byng (M: 1923)
* **Sayings of Confucius, by Allen Upward (ed.) (O: 1904, M: 1907)
** ***The Sayings of Confucius: A New Translation, by Lionel Giles (M: 1910, D: 1910, GP: 1958)
*Sayings of K’ung The Master, by Allen Upward (O: 1904, M: 1905)
* ** ****Sayings of Lao Tzu, by Lionel Giles (trans.) (O: 1904, M: 1905, D: 1909, PBG:?)
**The Sayings of Muhammad, by Abdullah al-Mamun Suhrawardy, Hassan Suhrawardy (M: 1941, D: 1941)
**The Secret Rose Garden, by Florence Lederer (trans.) (O: 1920, D: 1920)
** ****Selections from the Three Hundred Poems of the T’ang Dynasty, by Hengtangtuishi, Soame Jenyns (M: 1940, D: 1940, PBG: ?)
**Singing Caravan, by Henry Baerlein (ed.) (M: 1910, D: 1910)
**The Sketch Book of the Lady Sei Shonagon, by Sei Shonagon, Nobuko Kobayashi, L. Adams Beck (M: 1930, D: 1930)
**The Song of the Lord: Bhagavadgita, by E.J. Thomas (M: 1931, D: 1931)
**Spirit of Japanese Art, by Yoné Noguchi (M: 1915, D: 1915)
**Spirit of Japanese Poetry, by Yoné Noguchi (M: 1914, D: 1914)
** ****The Spirit of the Brush, Shiho Sakanishi (M: 1939, D: 1939, PBG:?)
***The Spirit of Zen, by Alan Watts (M: 1936, D: 1936, GP: 1958)
The Spiritual Physick of Rhazes, by Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya Razi (M: 1950)
**Splendour of God, by Eric Hammond (M: 1909, D: 1909)
***A Taoist Notebook, by Edward Herbert Kennedy (M: 1955, GP: 1960)

**Taoist Teachings, by Lie Tseu, Lionel Giles (trans.) (M: 1912, D: 1912)
**Teachings of Zoroaster, by S. A. Kapadia (trans.) (M: 1905, D: 1908)
Thirty Poems, by Hafiz, Peter Avery, John Heath-Stubbs (M: 1952)
**Ti-me-kun-dan, Prince of Buddhist Benevolence, by Dri med kun ldan, Millicent H. Morrison (M: 1925, D: 1925)
**Vedic Hymns, by E.J. Thomas (M: 1923, D: 1923)
Voices of the Dawn, by Peter Hyun (M: 1960)
**Way of the Buddha, by Herbert Baynes (M: 1906, D: 1909)
**Way of Contentment, by Ekiken Kaibara, Ken Hoshino (M: 1913, D: 1913)
**Wisdom of the Apocrypha, by C.E. Lawrence (M: 1910, D: 1910)
**Wisdom of Israel, by Edwin Collins (trans.) (M: 1906, D: 1909)
****Wings of Death, by Rabindranath Tagore (M: 1960, PBG:?)
**Women and Wisdom of Japan, by Kaibara, Ekiken (M: 1905, D: 1905)

*Orient Press (London) imprint: 10 (of 128) titles
**Dutton (New York) imprint: 82 (of 128) titles
***Distributed in the US by Grove Press: 11 (of 128) titles
****Distributed in the US by the Paragon Book Gallery: 22 (of 128) titles