Beacon Library of Fiction Classics

Little, Brown & Co. (Boston, US)
Series dates: 1927-1933
Size: 5.5″ x 7.75″

The “Beacon Library” name has been used numerous times for reprint book series, including a fiction classics series published by J. Heywood, Manchester (ca. 1880), The Arena Publishing Co., Boston (ca. 1905), Simpkin Marshall, London (ca. 1923), Ginn & Co., London (ca. 1932-1980) for a juvenile series, and Jarrolds (1937-1951). Tucked in among all these Beacons was Little, Brown & Company’s Beacon Library of Fiction Classics, published in 1927 and 1928 and available through the mid-1930s.

The Beacon Library of Fiction Classics is a series in jacket only, as there’s no indication of the series name on or within the book itself. As such, no copies are listed in WorldCat with the series name.

Dust jacket design is common to the series, printed on gold paper with a black and red ink. The series name is included on the front of the jacket. The front jacket flap blurbs the series and its solid, higher quality binding and immortal classic authors. A list of titles in the series (I believe all of the titles published) follows. A price of $2.00 is on the front jacket flap. This was twice as much as typical reprint series books (such as the Modern Library) at the time.

Six authors and 12 titles comprise the extent of the Beacon Library of Fiction Classics. All are illustrated and seem to have been published in earlier, more expensive illustrated editions. Year of initial (and only, to the extent I can find) printing follow each title:

Honore De Balzac
Eugenie Grandet [1927]
Pere Goriot [1927]
Cousin Bette [1928]
The Magic Skin (The Wild Ass’s Skin) [1928]

Edward Bulwer-Lytton
The Last Days Of Pompeii [1927]
Zanoni [1927]

Alphonse Daudet
Tartarin Of Tarascon [1927]
Monday Tales [1927]
Letters From My Mill [1928]

Victor Hugo
Ninety-Three [1928]

Charles Lever
Harry Lorrequer [1927]

Samuel Lover
Handy Andy [1927]

Balzac’s La Peau de Chagrin translates most directly to The Skin of Sorrow but is typically titled The Wild Ass’s Skin. The Magic Skin occasionally appears as an alternative title. The back of the dust jacket and rear flap are blank.

Bindings are in dark maroon cloth with gold typography and minimal decoration. A small “L B & Co.” colophon is debossed in the lower right corner of the front cover of the book.

Rather bold geometric endpapers:

The half-title page:

One of the three monochrome illustrations in the book faces the title page and is (in this case) followed by a tissue page with a quote related to the illustration (printed in red). The two illustrations in the text have a similar tissue page preceding the illustration.

A two-color title page follows, with the translator (Katherine Prescott Wormeley), date (1928) and publisher’s imprint.

The copyright page includes the original copyright holder and years (Roberts Brothers, 1887, 1888, 1896) and 1915 copyright to Little, Brown and Co. “Printed in the United States of America.”