The young future Inklings were among the first – though by no means the last – generation of readers to be able to take advantage of, and benefit immensely from, the inexpensive Everyman’s Library. This series of classic volumes shaped generations of scholars, writers, and public intellectuals–and not least where ‘the Matter of Britain’ was concerned, as Dale Nelson delightfully shows us this week.
David Llewellyn Dodds, Guest Editor
Every man of my age has had in his youth one blessing for which our juniors may well envy him: we grew up in a world of cheap and abundant books. Your Everyman was then a bare shilling [12 pence, about the cost of 60 popular Woodbine cigarettes], and, what is more, always in stock; your World’s Classic, Muses’ Library, Home University Library, Temple Classic, Nelson’s French series, Bohn, and Longman’s Pocket Library, at proportionate prices.
– C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (1955), p. 147.
In these words Lewis went on record about his gratitude for the old Everyman’s Library. J. R. R. Tolkien said in his 7 July 1955 letter to W. H. Auden that his mythology began under the influence of the Finnish Kalevala. And it was in Kirby’s translation, published in 1907 by Dent’s Everyman’s Library (EL volumes 259 and 260), that he encountered it. No Everyman’s Library, no Tύrin? No Tύrin, no legendarium? One wants to avoid facile theses, but, surely the origin and, thus, the development of Tolkien’s great cycle would have been different, had Kirby’s translation never been published.
…and published, it must be emphasized, in an edition very easy to find and to buy. Those were basic considerations of the EL’s founders.
Just as an Everyman’s Library book was crucial for the start of Tolkien’s creative lifework, an EL offering was of great importance in Lewis’s return to the Christian faith. His accounts of his almost reluctant purchase of, followed by captivation by, George MacDonald’s Phantastes (EL 731), are highlights of his preface to his MacDonald anthology and of Chapter 11 of Surprised by Joy.
The Everyman’s Library provided a very generous selection of Arthurian volumes. They appear to have been as follows:
- Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur (2 vols, EL 45 & 46)
- Mabinogion (EL 97)*
- Giraldus Cambrensis (EL 272)
- Spenser’s Faerie Queene (2 vols, EL 443, 444)
- High History of the Holy Graal (EL 445)
- Lays of Marie de France and Others (EL 557)
- Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Histories of the Kings of Britain (EL 577)
- Wace and Layamon, Arthurian Chronicles (EL 578)
- Morte Arthur: Two Early English Romances (EL 634)
- Chrétien de Troyes’ Eric and Enid (also known as Arthurian Romances, EL 698)
The latest-numbered title above, EL 698, first appeared in 1914, when Tolkien was about 22 and Lewis was about 16.
Lewis was a teenaged fan of the original 1906-1928 “flatback” EL design, which had ornate gilt typography on the spine and endpapers depicting Good Deeds as a graceful woman, and the quotation “Everyman, I will go with thee and be thy guide, in thy most need to go by thy side.” This passage from the late medieval morality play provided Ernest Rhys with the inspiration for the title of a series of good books that almost anyone could afford. At age 17, Lewis wrote to his best friend:
I wonder how people would laugh if they could hear us smacking our lips over our 7d’s and Everymans just as others gloat over rare folios and an Editio Princeps! But after all, surely we are right to get all the pleasure we can, and even in the cheapest books there is a difference between coarse and nice get up.
– C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, 18 July 1916.
Lewis would have read the dustwrapper appeared on the old EL releases:
“The true university in these days,” said Carlyle, “is a collection of books.” The main idea of this series is to make it easy for every one to obtain such a collection, and get at small cost all that is good, all that has worn well in English Literature. It will not offer only the classic authors, it will reprint the Victorians with the Elizabethans, comparatively new authors with the old famous ones, and books for pure pleasure as well as for wisdom and knowledge. …Thus for a few pounds, the reader may have a whole bookshelf of the immortals; for a comparatively small expenditure a man may be intellectually rich for life.
Editor Ernest Rhys (1859-1946) and self-taught publisher Joseph Malaby Dent (1849-1926) agreed to launch the EL series with Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson. As the prospectus just quoted suggests, they did emphasize British literature (including 28 volumes of Sir Walter Scott); but they included unexpected items too, such as the edition of Boehme’s visionary Signature of All Things (EL 569) that struck the young Lewis like a thunderclap, and works of scientific or political interest as well as literature, philosophy, travel, biography, and religion.
Their Arthurian offerings seemed to have lacked only Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival and Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan, and the English Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, to have a selection more than sufficient for all but the most scholarly inquirer into the Matter of Britain. I suppose that scholars will want to read also the works of Robert de Boron, those attributed to Walter Map, and others. For the “general reader” in the first decades of the 20th century, and for the poetical young Inklings in particular, the Everyman’s Library offerings were among the best book bargains of a lifetime.
*EL 97 reprinted Charlotte Guest’s early Victorian rendition of The Mabinogion. In 1949, the EL replaced it with a new translation by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones. This later version is the one specified in Alan Garner’s excellent novel The Owl Service (1967).
Here are four of the sources I consulted in preparing this article:
 “Everyman’s Library: List of The First 740 Volumes,” included at the back of a 1920 EL reprint of Borrow’s The Romany Rye. This presumably authoritative list includes all of the above books except two. The list seems to omit Sebastian Evans’s rendering of The High History of the Holy Graal, but that book is confirmed as EL 445, with the photo of an old-style dust wrapper, here:  http://scribblemonger.com/elcollect/elCatalog.pl
The list of 740 books also seems to omit Eugene Mason’s translation of The Lays of Marie de France and Others (EL 557), but it is attested, as French Mediaeval Romances from the Lays of Marie de France, by Worldcat, as Everyman’s Library 557 and dated 1911.
For information on the EL, see also  http://www.everymanslibrarycollecting.com/flatback.html and
Dale Nelson’s collection of ghostly tales, Lady Stanhope’s Manuscript and Other Stories, was published in Fall 2017 under Douglas Anderson’s Nodens Books imprint, which will also publish his J. R. R. Tolkien: Studies in Reception this year.
It’s fun having seen Emily Austin’s attention last week to Beardsley and Tolkien, and Art Nouveau play with mediaeval sources and styles, to see the Malory title-page and the endpapers and varied spines here, with more examples in your source-links. Such “nice get up” has no doubt had its own imaginative inspirations down the years from their first appearance to their library and second-hand availability today.
I agree, this is pretty cool. I love the flyleaf and endpaper when it is designed. For me it is like old album covers.
Well, David, I’m sure that the tasteful look of the Everyman volumes, as well as the excellence of their content, helps to account for their persistence in memory.
Richard Church was a critic, biographer, and novelist about whom I need to learn more, a friend of poet Ruth Pitter. He wrote three volumes of autobiography, Over the Bridge (1955, winner of the Sunday Times Book Prize for an outstanding work of literature), The Golden Sovereign (1957), and The Voyage Home (1964). In The Golden Sovereign, Church writes how, around age 21, in 1911, he’d discovered a way to economize on the cost of his daily tram ride:
“…this economy saved a penny a day. Sixpence a week meant a new volume of Everyman’s Library, or a World’s Classic, every fortnight. And several other such devices might permit me to add a Nelson’s Sevenpenny Classic as well” (p. 4).
He’s remembering the shilling-a-volume books after 40-some years, and names the EL books first.
By the way, people interested in reading of unusual, but not diseased, mental states, will probably be interested in Church’s account of his years of “levitation” in the first two volumes.
Perhaps I should start a database of references to the Everyman’s Library books!
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I’m curious if there is an ebook library as most of them are out of copyright even in the United States.
When I was a kid, for me it was comic books. Then albums. Then, when I paid my student loans, it has been books.
Until pretty recently, a used book was less than a pack of cigarettes, but both have gone up a lot.
It would be interesting to know whether -used- books were a large part of the youthful book-acquisition experience for Tolkien and Lewis. Offhand I don’t get the impression that it was, and, come to think of it, that seems a bit curious. I suppose used -Everymans- would’ve really been a good deal. (Btw, lucky me, but I remember that they used to turn up at “Friends of the Library” sales in Urbana, etc. You could -really- get ’em cheap when the last day or hours of the sale arrived and books were being sold $1 a bag!)
But does anyone recall indications of Lewis and Tolkien browsing used books? I’d like to think they did — since that could be such a pleasure. I’m sure there were used book stores in London, but I don’t know that Lewis or Tolkien did bookstore crawls inthe Great Wen. Was Blackwells primarily a new books and antiquarian (expen$ive) store in their day?
Lewis, when recommending books, would say that “you can find it used,” so I assume he haunted all kinds of bookstores. And wasn’t his copy of Phantastes used?
CSL to Greeves, 12 Feb. 1918: “Of course London is the place, I suppose, for rum[m]aging second hand shops.”
(This, two or three sentences after his saying he is getting the Everyman edition of Benvenuto Cellini, by the way.)
I remember reading about some astute young ‘un I think a decade or so later rummaging around in the bargains out on the street at Foyle’s, buying things he recognized as valuable, and going upstairs to the antiquarian section and selling them back, the better to fund his own book-buying power (but can’t recall who)!
There are a number of Everyman volumes in the Internet Archive – though I am not sure just how (or how well!) they are (cross-)indexed, as I find scans of Everyman volumes when I search by author or title which do not turn up when I use Everyman’s Library as a search term! The have the advantage of one’s being able both to search within the volumes and to zoom and magnify the pages!
Sometimes I found a title I expected in Everyman, there, in a Temple Classics edition. Reading this post has somehow finally nudged me to try to find out why, and lo:
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For instance, searching the Internet Archive for Sebastian Evans brings me his High History of the Holy Graal and Geoffrey of Monmouth as appearing in the Temple Classics (in 1898 and 1904, respectively) before they appear in the EL.
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Brenton, your comment on cigarettes vs. used books reminded me of this George Orwell essay:
I didn’t know that essay! I have a peculiar attraction to Orwell.
Here’s Richard Church again, this time in The Voyage Home. He’s remembering his first novel, which he showed to the “legendary” Edward Garnett. Garnett advised him to try placing it with Dent, “whose list it would suit admirably.” Church tells of his reaction to Garnett and his suggestion:
“This expertise astounded me. To be able to place a book precisely with one amongst the hundreds of British publishing houses suggested to me a professionalism so cool that it froze my blood. I shivered with an apprehension that I could not define. I thanked him for the advice, and almost retreated backwards, bearing the refrigerated typescript in my arms.”But I took his advice, gratitude having overcome intimidation. I sent the books to Dents, a house which hitherto I had known mainly as the publishers of Everyman’s Library, that godsend to the impoverished scholar, that friend who had indeed, as the flyleaf of every volume proclaimed, ‘one with me, to be my guide, in my most need to sit by my side’. My first literary prize, won at Dulwich Hamlet School in 1908, for an essay, was the three-volume Shakespeare, bound in sultan-red leather faintly tooled in gold, at eighteen pence a volume. My mother’s last gift to me, two weeks before her death in 1912, had been the works of Macaulay in seven Everyman volumes.
“Everyman’s Library therefore had an emotional as well as a literary appeal to me. I regarded it as almost a private possession, as no doubt did many thousands more like-minded readers avid for knowledge and vicarious living.
“These associations of our childhood and youth never lose their magic. They remain our secret possessions, and when in later life we happen upon them, the coldness and complexity of our adult condition are put aside. The hopes, the grandeurs and extravagances of the young spirit revive as we touch these tangible relics, to conjure again the certainties of home, the confident mystery of family life, and the first intimations of love for individuals, for vague ideas, for the very concept of home, a wider and more comforting assurance than home itself, the four walls, the mother, the father, and all that surrounded them.
“These emotions revived, therefore, when I posted my typescript to Dents,” etc. (pages 166-167).
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Richard Church’s remarks about his feelings, submitting his novel to Dent, the publisher of the Everyman’s Library, may remind us that Lewis’s narrative poem Dymer — not his first book but his second — was published by Dent. I looked in his letters to see if he said something similar to what Church said, about the experience of being published by this publisher whose offerings had been very important to him, and didn’t find such remarks — but I think he might have said something like that. Lewis’s first book, Spirits in Bondage, was published by Heinemann — did he try Dent first?
Lewis was rejected by MacMillan first, then accepted by Heinemann (for Spirits in Bondage). Heinemann rejected Dymer in 1925. I don’t know what the process of going to Dent for Dymer was. There’s nothing in the letters about it or even the diary. Lewis did get proofs of cover design for Dymer at the same time he was compiling a list for Dent to extend the Everyman library. Lewis’ suggestions–I think–fell to copyright issues.
Brenton, has that list of Lewis’s suggestions for Everyman’s Library releases been published? I don’t remember seeing it in his letters, but then I haven’t read those volumes straight through.
And it might be asked: Is there even one book by C. S. Lewis that doesn’t make you want to read some other book(s), and I don’t mean simply other books by Lewis, but books by other authors?
Even the Narnian books can make you want to read Plato (Lion, Witch & Wardrobe; Last Battle), Rider Haggard (when you connect Jadis with Ayesha), Nesbit’s Bastables, and Sherlock Holmes (Magician’s Nephew), etc.
The space trilogy books make you want to read Wells, Milton, Bernardus, Sherlock Holmes again (Mark’s recovery in THS), Malory, Shakespeare’s sonnets, Owen Barfield, Tolkien, Isaac Walton’s Lives, and numerous others that one would remember if one picked up the books again. (THS also makes you want to listen to Bach chorales.) The Dark Tower spurs an interest in The Faerie Queene if you recognize the names Scudamour and Camilla.
Till We Have Faces makes you want to get into Classical Greek culture. The Great Divorce makes you want to read George MacDonald (as other CSL books do) and Blake, and “The Man Who Lived Backwards” —
And of course the nonfiction books are often loaded with references and allusions. Does CSL mention Boethius by name in Mere Christianity?
The way CSL makes you want to read more books is one of the appealing things about him.
I think that is true of Williams and Tolkien, and of as much Barfield as I’ve read, as well – they are what I call ‘centrifugal writers’, always sending you off to learn more (even if, sometimes, with a warning – though one also encounters people thinking Lewis made something sound a lot more interesting than they found it when they did look it up!).
That matter of “copyright issues” is interesting to hear – as I was browsing the second source-link above I was wondering how many famous things you might tend to expect, were not there (yet?) because of copyright issues.
It’s interesting, for example, to see the Arthur Burrell version of Piers Plowman (EL 571, 1912 with reprints until at least 1931 – the latest scan I happened ti find in the Internet Archive) replaced by the Donald and Rachel Attwater translation “by arrangement with Messrs Cassell & Co. Ltd.”
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I did not know the quotation from Carlyle that the “true university in these days is a collection of books”. That makes me pause to think. Any reactions anyone?
It is remarkable, Stephen, to think of Carlyle saying that about a “true university” in the 19th century, because, of course, he seems to imply that Oxford, Cambridge, etc. were not “true universities.”
I haven’t read Carlyle and know very little about him even at second hand, so I guess I won’t speculate much. The idea that a “true university” is a (surely not random!) “collection of books” must mean that Carlyle thought of “university” life as centered on reading, probably mostly the reading of what we’ve come to call canonical books. In Carlyle’s day, that would suggest Classical works, read in Greek and Latin, primarily, along with, secondarily, works in modern European languages. However, I’m not sure that that is what -he- had in mind.
Perhaps he was reacting against the idea that significant numbers of students at the universities weren’t seriously interested in books and the life of the mind.
To take Carlyle’s remark and apply it to our own day: It’s a statement with which I’d have quite a lot of sympathy. Without writing an essay on the matter here, I’d say that the idea of a “true university” being centered on books seems to be out of favor today — thanks to attitudes of both “right” and left. Some people see the universities as there to turn out certified men and women for the labor force and to push forward STEM, etc. in partnership (legal and contractual, or implied) with business, while others see the universities as places that should be incubators of “progressive” social change.
My impression is that it’s largely the latter that is at work in English departments, the milieu I know best, where an emphasis on theory has pushed aside the former emphasis on (1) languages and (2) wide and deep reading in proven literary works. All of the theory is of a leftist disposition. Trained to read thus, students re-inject the prescribed chemicals into their veins every time they start to read a book. Some may escape some of this, by reading around on their own. As I say in the piece linked here
I think Lewis’s Experiment in Criticism ought to be passed around among students like some sort of subversive samizdat writing.
One thing that makes it subversive is that you read it and you want to be like Lewis — a lifelong reader of works that nourish intellect and imagination (rather than stoking the fires of social envy and political resentment). It’s as simple as this, that Lewis believed in the Logos (in fact, he worshiped Him), while the English department denies there is any Logos except as a “socially constructed” phantom used to privilege some and keep others from privileges, to repress the happy exploration of the sexual candy shop, and so on. (I think of an occasion in which I was talking with a feminist colleague, and a canonical-works reading list — something I give to students as a “lifetime reading” resource — came up. Chaucer, Spenser, Austen, Dickens, etc. — those people. “WHITE MALE PATRIARCHY,” she said. From the vantage point of her 27 years or so. Just out of college with a master’s degree a few years before, and she evidently felt she knew what she needed to know.)
So, yes, I’d say that, for the most part, the real love of learning as regards literature, at least, is probably largely a fugitive, even furtive thing, in universities today. That’s what you get when Cleverness is exalted and wisdom is banished.
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Hmm. It must be only 3/4 of a White Male Patriarchy, since Austen wasn’t male or patriarchial. But, yes, all White. That’s rather hard to avoid in Britain before the present day. Of course, there’s a Green Knight in a certain medieval romance, but that doesn’t mean that the author was green…
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It might be fun to browse the second source-link for other more and less familiar women from before and after Austen: checking for Burney, for instance, i find Evelina (EL 352) bracketed by Emily Bronte’s Villette and Eliot’s Felix Holt, while Yonge’s Heir of Redcliffe grabs my eye a little further along (EL 362) and Craik of Manual of English Literature a bit higher up (EL 346) makes me wonder, ‘any relation to Mrs. Craik?’ – yes: her uncle, and the volume has “additions by Eleanor Urquhart”. Burney’s Diary is EL 960 – preceded by Woolf’s To the Lighthouse as EL 949, whereas Wollstonecraft’s The Rights of Women had already appeared as EL 825 (together with Mill’s On the Subjection of Women – originally with an introduction by Sir George Edward Gordon Catlin, replaced at some point by one by Pamela Frankau. Shelley’s Frankenstein is EL 616 – double-checking the other two Shelley entries (which prove to be Percy – Poetical Works in 2 volumes) brings me to a neighbourhood where two variant editions of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights are followed by Oliphant’s Salem Chapel (EL 244), with Alcott’s Little Women and Good Wives soon after (EL 248). Letters from the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu make their appearance long before Burney (EL 69), with the first of eight Gaskell titles, Cranford, fairly soon after (EL 83).
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The EL offered quite a bit of “George Eliot,” in fact — along with Felix Holt, there were Adam Bede, Daniel Deronda, Middlemarch (in two volumes), Silas Marner, Scenes of Clerical Life, Romola, and The Mill on the Floss.
Also offered was Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent and The Absentee (one volume).and two volumes of Mrs. (Juliana) Ewing. No doubt further women authors would be easy to find in the EL list.
In another – non-European – direction, a quick dabbling with search terms finds Bartholomew’s Literary and Historical Atlas, volumes 3 (EL 633) – Asia – and 4 (EL 662) African and Australia, the volume of Chinese Philosophy in Classical Times Covering the Period 1500 AD – 100 AD (EL 973), and Arberry’s Persian Poems (EL 996), en route to which Kalidasa’s Shakuntala and Other Poems (EL 629) and Edwardes’s Dictionary of Non-Classical Mythology (EL 632) caught my eye – as did Countess Matinengo-Cesaresco’s Essays in the Study of Folk-Songs (EL 673 – apparently replaced by Gaskell’s Ruth, also EL 673) though, sadly, I do not know how far either of the last two range in attending to mythology or folk-songs respectively.
The last-named is followed by Dorothy Osborne’s Letters. New to me were Mary Cowden Clarke’s Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines in three volumes (EL 109, 110, 111) – one of which also seems to have been replaced at some stage by a novel of Gaskell’s: Wives and Daughters (also EL 110). Of delightfully mixed authorship are The Paston Letters (EL 752 and 753).
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The more one explores, the more convincing is the idea that, for an excellent “major” in English literature, just reading the Everyman’s Library offerings would take you very far, and would be superior to many a bachelor’s- and even master’s-level program — except that I’m not sure that their Chaucer offerings were in (glossed) Middle English, as they would need to be. I’m pretty sure Everyman’s Library didn’t offer instruction in Old English/Anglo-Saxon, with good texts … but then I don’t suppose most English programs require such learning today. Not, I believe, even Oxford.
Today, we have the Penguin Classics as a source for many of the works that Everyman’s Library offered, and the Penguin editions may be superior from a text-critical point of view.
You remind me of the excellent EL 794, R.K. Gordon’s selection of Anglo-Saxon Poetry, and of the later G.N. Garmonsway version of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (EL 624 – I don’t know the original James Ingram one).
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Some quick checking finds the quotation (thanks to the Project Gutenberg transcription) in On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History (1841), in the fifth lecture there published, “The Hero as Man of Letters. Johnson, Rousseau, Burns”, delivered on 19 May 1840. It’s well worth a look, though I’ve just read the immediate context, so far – which includes, “There is […] a distinct province for Speech as well as for Writing and Printing. In regard to all things this must remain; to Universities among others. But the limits of the two have nowhere yet been pointed out, ascertained; much less put in practice: the University which would completely take in that great new fact, of the existence of Printed Books, and stand on a clear footing for the Nineteenth Century as the Paris one did for the Thirteenth, has not yet come into existence. If we think of it, all that a University […] can do for us, is still but what the first School began doing,—teach us to read. We learn to read, in various languages, in various sciences; we learn the alphabet and letters of all manner of Books. But the place where we are to get knowledge, even theoretic knowledge, is the Books themselves! It depends on what we read, after all manner of Professors have done their best for us.”
Relying on the Wikipediast, I note Carlyle went to the University of Edinburgh, and, in 1827, failed to get a post at St. Andrews, and that in England, beyond Oxford and Cambridge there were as yet only Durham (founded in 1832) and London (founded in 1836). Also, “Carlyle was the chief instigator in the foundation of the London Library in 1841” – where subscribers could borrow books.
Lewis mentions “Bohn”: Henry George Bohn started ‘Bohn’s Libraries’ in 1846 and they “comprised editions of standard works and translations, dealing with history, science, classics, theology and archaeology, consisting in all of 766 volumes” and “marketing to a general mass readership with volumes selling at low prices”. He “sold his Bohn’s Libraries in 1864 to Messrs. Bell and Daldy, afterwards G. Bell & Sons. At that time the Bohn’s Libraries included more than 600 titles.” Was this effectively a first bringing of Carlyle’s “University” to English-speaking readers?
Lewis also mentions the “Home University Library”: it began in 1911, and was acquired by the OUP in 1940 when “a number of titles in the series were selling only 100s each year. Despite this, total sales of Home University Library volumes were one million volumes over 80 titles in the first two years following the acquisition by Oxford. The series helped the university reach a wider audience and as a non-fiction series was complimentary to The World’s Classics which reprinted great works of literary fiction.” It was “renamed OPUS (Oxford Paperback University Series)” and continues to this day. Were its first publishers remembering Carlyle – as quoted by the Everyman folk? Chesterton wrote The Victorian Age in Literature for it (HUL 70: 1913) – he also wrote introductions to EL Dickens volumes (and maybe more besides, for them – hmm, did I use to know this answer…?).
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Ah, working out from the second linked source above, I see Chesterton’s Stories, Essays, and Poems seem to have been included in EL as 913 in 1935.
The following data might be of interest. Years ago, I reviewed Margaret Rogers’s “C. S. Lewis: A Living Library” and attempted to make correlations between her list and the old Everyman’s Library. Rogers didn’t indicated the publisher, but if, for example, she lists an eight-volume edition of Hakluyt with the same date(s) as the eight volumes of the Everyman’s Library Hakluyt, it is likely that the books in Lewis’s library were Everyman editions.
The numbers that follow are numbers of Everyman Library editions. Go here
to see that, for example, 458 is Matthew Arnold’s Study of Celtic Literature and Other Essays. This may well be the same as one of the Arnold books listed by Rogers as being in Lewis’s library when she inventoried it in 1969.
The numbers of the Everyman’s Library editions are given so as to correspond with the alphabetical-by-author listing in Rogers’s list. For that list, go here:
Click to access Lewis_Library_20171017.pdf
Ready? OK, here goes:
458, 10, 520, 170, 287, 99 (seems likely), 11, 283, 223, 570, 701, 353, 468, 715, 567, 467, 355, 356, 506, 83, 295, 264, 265; 313, 314; 338, 339; 388, 389 (these eight are the Hakluyt I mentioned), 176, 122, 459, 405, 406, 310, 691, 66, 552, 572, 101, 20, 732, 678, 734, 179, 482, 718, 96, 676, 683, 684, 210, 211, 212, 129, 133, 134, 135, 137, 139, 140, 144, 616, 95, 589, 44, 455, 368, 70, etc. (not proofread)
Again, please note, I’m not saying that all of these are Everymans, but that, when I compiled this information years ago, it appeared that they -could- be Everyman editions. Even if not all are Everyman editions, the fact that Everyman issued such books that Lewis, apparently, found worth having, is suggestive.
I find that, looking at these books, I’m stirred anew to want to read more of the books that C. S. Lewis may have read or certainly did read. To paraphrase, Carlyle, a true university for us in these days is a collection of books valued by C. S. Lewis. And I’m sure a great many of them are available free at archive.org, etc.
Wow – nice: thank you!
It’s worth mentioning here that Sørina Higgins has a very fine compact account of Owen Barfield’s Arthuriana in The Inklings and King Arthur – one that attends to his marginalia in his copies of both volumes of the Everyman’s Library Malory, and suggests that these marginal notes of his may even be closely related to his own eurythmic work, The Quest of the Sangreal.
I have not tried to collate or even closely compare them, but I further note the related content of her post of 5 August 2015 at The Oddest Inkling blog, “Owen Barfield’s Arthurian”, where she not only refers to Angela Grimaldi’s 2010 article entitled “Owen Barfield’s marginalia in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur” which notes, among other things that his Everyman volume I was a 1935, and his volume II a 1934 reprint, but also provides a link to a freely-accessible online reprint of this article:
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My apologies for sloppy prooreading!: Sørina’s post is entitled “Owen Barfield’s Arthuriana”!
I have the impression that Barfield owned MacDonald’s Phantastes in the Everyman edition, but that, in some interview, he said it’s gone missing.
Here’s an article about Lewis’s Everyman edition of Phantastes, with photos thereof:
Great – thanks! I love that blog, but somehow missed this contribution! (I should go back through them systematically…)
The Internet Archive seems to have two scans of the Everyman’s Library Phantastes. The first has no publication date (with the latest date shown in the Bibliography on p, x being 1913):
The 1940 reprint is scanned in a strangely wobbly, distorting fashion, but interestingly states “First Published in the Edition 1915” (p. [vi]):
For the sake of thoroughness, I note there are no index entries for Dent or Everyman or Phantastes in Owen Barfield on C.S. Lewis (Weslsyan UP, 1989), and none of the MacDonald entries mention Barfield’s copy.
Alas, Brothers and Friends (Ballantine, September 1988) has no index entries for Dent or Everyman or Phantastes, either.
For the sake of interest, I note there are no index entries for Dent or Everyman in C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table (London; Collins, 1980), but all three Phantastes references indexed are interesting (q.v.), especially Bede Griffiths’s calling it “a book I have never been able to read”!
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Ach: “this Edition”!
My article above and my comments here have emphasized the early decades of the Everyman’s Library, when Lewis and Tolkien were young. Valerie Holman has an interesting appendix to her book Print for Victory, if anyone wants to read some paragraphs about the EL during the Second World War. The EL series was still edited by Ernest Rhys, who seems to have issued a list of 21 EL titles recommended as good choices, for one reason or another, for reading in wartime. I wonder what the 21 titles were.
An article in the journal The Bookseller on EL sales (summer 1941) found that sales of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair had doubled and that The Pickwick Papers was often recommended, also the Grossmiths’ (now largely forgotten) Diary of a Nobody, and all the works of Jane Austen. Holman says that “All books about earlier wars were popular,” too, with War and Peace having become an in-demand item after E. M. Forster talked about it on the radio. The Kalevala — the Everyman 2-volume-book that was so very important to Tolkien — “was widely read after Russia invaded Finland”! If this seems surprising, it should be remembered too that Jean Sibelius had become a world-famous composer before the War, and some of his most notable works were related to the Kalevala. Churchill praised Gibbon’s decline and Fall, and that boosted sales of that title. Apparently Conrad’s Lord Jim was selling well, too, as well as “good thrillers” — here I am not sure if we are really talking about the EL any more, though. Don Quixote seems to have been so popular that the publisher ran into difficulty keeping up with demand, due to paper shortages.
In 1941, Holman says that EL orders had trebled from some sellers, and Dent, the Everyman publisher, “also had to supply the Forces, the British Council and Prisoner-of-War organisations.”
I suspect one reason for demand for EL books is that you typically got a lot for your money. You could buy a new thriller and read through it in an evening. An EL volume might not possess the breathless interest of a crime thriller, but, on the other hand, it could be something to turn to, to help you keep your mind off the war for a while, for several evenings or more, depending on the reader’s reading speed and so on. The classics took you out of a time of tanks, aerial bombing, concentration camps, mass rallies, shortages of food and clothing, radio appeals and news and much more.
Holman doesn’t mention Anthony Trollope’s novels here, but I believe they surged in popularity in the war years. The Barsetshire books would’ve been excellent escape fare for some readers, and the EL offered all six.
Indeed, I think there might have been more Trollope titles than the ones listed there. Maybe not. Oxford World’s Classics offered small-size editions of Trollope, too — though I am not sure in either of these cases of the exactly situation during the war years.
Very interesting – thank you! It give one pause to think that Rhys was15 when Chesterton was born, and outlived Williams by a year. And, checking his exact birth date at Wikipedia, I am suddenly made aware that I have never had a proper sense of him as Arthurian poet himself! The Internet Archive, I find, does not have Gwenevere: A Lyric Play (Dent, 1905), but does have scans (sometimes of more than one copy or version) of Lays of the Round Table and Other Lyric Romances (Dent, 1905), The Masque of the Grail (Elkin Mathews, 1908), and Enid: A Lyric Play Written for Music (Dent, 1908) – in fact Gwenevere and The Masque of the Grail as well as Enid also had music by Vincent Thomas and had been performed before being published.
Searching further in the Internet Archive, I find Malory’s History of King Arthur and the Quest of the Holy Grail for the “Camleot Classics” series (Scott, 1886), Malory’s Balin and Balan in his Garden of Romance (Kegan Paul, 1897), an introduction for The Arthurian Tales (Norroena Society, 1906), and a lot of attention to Arthurian material in the book(let)-length essay, Romance (Dutton, 1913).
But, alas, no obvious sign of that list of 21 recommended Everyman volumes. His anthology, The Roar of Battle, Scenes and Episodes of War, with a Special Chapter on the Siege of Liège, 1914 (Jarrold, ) might have been among books about earlier wars which were popular, too, but there’s no evidence there that it was reprinted.
I read The Diary of a Nobody in an Everyman paperback, and so enjoyed it I bought and gave away copies to various people – including my future wife! I wonder about “now largely forgotten”, though – at any rate, there were BBC television versions in 1964, 1979, and 2007, and radio versions in 2004, 2012, and 2015, as well as an abridged BBC audiobook in 1996 read by Arthur Lowe, and an Argo dramatized recording in 1982 with Richard Briers. The free audiobook at LibriVox.org read by Martin Clifton also sounds well worth listening to.
Checking to see if George Grossmith made any recordings himself, I find Wikipedia reporting “No recordings of Grossmith’s voice are known to exist”, but there have been modern recordings of various of his songs, and on YouTube find not only assorted (sometimes very dark) comic songs by his son, but someone’s comment that “Wodehouse scholar Norman Murphy believes George Grossmith, Jr. to have been the inspiration for Bertie Wooster”, and the film Prince Charming (1934), in which he stars, released in the UK a year before, and in the US (as Alexandra) a couple weeks after his death.
Ach: Princess Charming [!]
Thank you, David, for the gracious and interesting correction to my erroneous remark about the supposedly near-forgotten Diary of a Nobody.
Browsing our shelves, I see our Defoe’s Captain Singleton (EL 74) was “Last reprinted 1945” and bears the additional note that it was produced in complete conformity with the authorized economic standards.
How does the paper look? I’ve been favorably impressed by the way the paper has held up, when I handle my old Everyman editions.
Incidentally, this reminds me of the contrasting terrible quality of paper that I associate with some British books published in the 1980s. I think particularly of Kinglsey Amis’s Russian Hide-and-Seek, published by Hutchinson. When I got hold of a copy it was quite a recent book, and already the paper — as I recall — was becoming discolored and felt like it was beginning to become brittle!
The Everyman Library paper doesn’t look “expensive,” but it holds up as supple and relatively free of discoloration in most, at least, of my experience.
The paper looks really good, sturdy but, indeed, “supple and relatively free of discoloration” – it lost its dust jacket long enough ago for the spine to be bleached paler than the covers, and stood on a shelf long enough for the back cover somehow to darken around the shape of a smaller book standing next to it; gold lettering on the spine pale but with a matte shine and legible; sewn binding in good order: impressive conformity with ‘economic standards’ (whatever exactly they were by 1945)!
I just landed 5 new (old) Everymans over the weekend. I’ve been collecting Middle English books for a local school library on behalf of a student who Somebody donated a cheap 1935 pair of Rhys’ Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, #s 45 & 46. I also got 3 of the nicer 1920s volumes (with the imprint, gold writing on the cloth, endpapers, etc.): #s 578 Wace & Layamon, #698 de Troyes, and #92 Religio Medice and other Browne writings (yes, the last one isn’t connected!). All the paper is in great condition, but the board covers are all faded and a bit sad looking.
Hurrah! It’s amazing how well the 1920s (and even earlier) volumes are still doing in so many cases!
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