aka/ Camden Illustrated Classics
Paul Elek (London, UK)
Series dates: 1947-1949
Size: 9.25″ x 6″
Hungarian immigrant Paul Elek was the son of a Budapest printer. Elek established his own printing firm in London during World War 2 and began publishing under his name in London around 1945 (source). He was, apparently, not a thrifty man (source) and the firm was in financial difficulties in the early 1950s. Publication of Richard Pape’s memoir Boldness Be My Friend (1953) apparently saved the firm from bankruptcy (source). The firm and a few subsidiaries were acquired by Granada Publishing, Ltd. in 1958 (source).
Just about every publisher had a reprint series, and thus so did Elek. The Camden Classics (sometimes referred to as the Camden Illustrated Classics) first appeared in 1947. An advertisement (below, left) in The Times Literary Supplement (Saturday, Dec. 13, 1947, Issue 2393, p. 640) advertises what must have been the first two titles in the series. One year later, another advertisement (below, right) in The Times Literary Supplement (Saturday, Dec. 11, 1948, Issue 2445, p. 701) includes four of what would ultimately be 5 total titles issued in the series.
The books are all illustrated and large in size (compared to other series books). Jackets are unique to each title, showcasing an illustration from the book. The series name is included on the jacket spine and front. A blurb about the book fills the front jacket flap, along with mention of the book illustrator and author of its introduction. A price is included on the bottom of the front jacket flap, in this case, covered with a sticker. This copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is dated 1947.
The rear of the jacket blurbs the series and mentions its “art editor” Denys Sutton. The price of the books is 12/6 per copy. Eight titles are listed as “in active preparation” in the series:
A search of WorldCat indicates that three titles, including Tom Sawyer, were published in 1947 and two more titles in 1948. The other three announced titles were apparently never published. Thus the series includes five published titles in total.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte
Introduction by Norman Nicholson, drawings by Anthony Gross
TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson
Introduction by H.M. Burton, drawings by John Minton
THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER by Mark Twain
Introduction by Graham Hutton, drawings by Keith Vaughan
A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY by Laurence Sterne
Introduction by Phoebe Fenwick Gaye, drawings by Marian
HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain (may have been issued in 1949)
Introduction by Walter Allen, drawings by Edward Burra
Announced, but not published:
JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte
Introduction by Janet Adam Smith, illustrated by William Scott
GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens
Introduction by D.L. Murray, drawings by Philippe Jullian
THE MILL ON THE FLOSS by George Eliot
Introduction by Dorothy Charques
Bindings are cloth (in this case with mildew damage). The title, author, series name and publisher are in gold on the book spine:
The half-title page:
The title page faces an illustration from the book. The series name is included on the title page.
The copyright page:
A list of titles, lacking Tom Sawyer, appears at the end of the book: