Chiltern Library

John Lehmann Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1946-1953
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

Like Lehmann’s Holiday Library, the Chiltern Library was published for the entirety of the rather short life of the firm, founded in 1946 and dissolved in 1953. A few reprints appear through the mid-1960s. The Chiltern Library was not unlike Cresset’s The Cresset Library and Harrap’s Holborn Library, all post WW2 British classic reprint series with scholarly editorship and decent quality book production. All were issued in response to the deficit of books in print during the war, and all more or less ceased publishing new titles in the early 1950s.

The Chiltern Library included more mainstream classics than the Cresset Library and was credited with inspiring new interest in Henry James in the late 1940s and early 1950s (with ten James titles eventually included in the series, many revised, definitive editions). The series also included several anthologies created for the series and carefully chosen selections from classics like Boswell’s Life of Johnson.

Chiltern Library jackets remained largely unchanged through the early 1950s. Jackets are unique to each title with illustrations related to the title. Early jackets have very large typography on the spine; the series name is indicated on the front of the jacket and front jacket flap, along with a summary of the title and number in the Chiltern Library series. Jackets are designed by Philippe Julian. This is an early title in the series, James’ What Maisie Knew, with a 1947 date in the book. The price is 8/6 net.


The back of this jacket lists the first 12 volumes in the series. The back flap is blank except for a number, the last two digits refer to the series number of the title.


Bindings remain the same through at least 1951, cloth, in this case, blue, but also green, yellow, and brick) with gold decorations on the spine. The series name is included on the base of the spine.


Half-title page with the series name and title.


A brief biography of the author faces the title page, which includes the printing date (1947).


The copyright page includes printing information for the title.


38 titles in the Chiltern Library are documented below, not counting three titles announced but apparently not published in the series. The year of initial publication follows each title. The series numbering goes as high as 38, but I cannot determine the series number of two titles published at the end of the series. Also confusing is the fact that several late titles were issued with earlier series numbers originally assigned to titles that were announced but never published.

1. THE GOLDEN ASS OF APULEIUS: in the translation by William Adlington, with an Introduction by Louis MacNeice. (1946)

2. SHELLEY IN ITALY: An Anthology of Poems selected with an Introductory Essay by John Lehmann. (1947)
3. ON ART AND SOCIALISM: Essays and Lectures by William Morris, selected with an Introduction by Holbrook Jackson. (1947)
4. IN A GLASS DARKLY: by Sheridan Le Fanu, with an Introduction by V.S. Pritchett. (1947)
5. RODERICK HUDSON: by Henry James, with a Preface by the author and an Introductory note by Michael Swan. (1947)
6. MARY BARTON: by Mrs. Gaskell, with an Introduction by Lettice Cooper. (1947)
7. COUSIN PHILLIS and CRANFORD: by Mrs. Gaskell, with an Introduction by Elizabeth Jenkins. (1947)
*8. DON JUAN: by Lord Byron, with an Introduction by Peter Quennell. (1949)
9. WHAT MAISIE KNEW: by Henry James, with a Preface by the author and an Introductory note by Michael Swan. (1947)
10. THE SPOILS OF POYNTON: by Henry James, with a Preface by the author and an Introductory note by Michael Swan. (1947)
*11. RECOLLECTIONS OF THE LAKE POETS: by Thomas de Quincey, with an Introduction by Edward Sackville-West. (1948)
12. THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE: by Mrs. Gaskell, with an Introduction by Margaret Lane. (1947)

13. CONINGSBY: by Benjamin Disraeli, with an Introduction by Walter Allen. (1948)
14. THE LESSON OF THE MASTER and other Stories: by Henry James, with a Preface by the author and an Introductory note by Michael Swan. (1948)
15. THE TELL-TALE HEART and other Stories: by Edgar Allan Poe, Selected with an Introduction by William Sansom. (1948)
*16. THE FORSAKEN GARDEN: An Anthology of Nineteenth-century Poetry, selected by John Heath-Stubbs and David Wright. (1950)
17. THE COMEDIES OF WILLIAM CONGREVE: edited with an Introduction by Norman Marshall. (1948)
18. WIVES AND DAUGHTERS: by Mrs. Gaskell, with an Introduction by Rosamond Lehmann. (1948)
19. THE CONFIDENCE-MAN: by Herman Melville, with an Introduction by Roy Fuller. (1948)
20. TEN SHORT STORIES OF HENRY JAMES: selected with an Introduction by Michael Swan. (1948)
**21. THE BAROQUE MUSE: An Anthology of Seventeenth-century Poetry, selected with an Introduction by C.V. Wedgwood. (not published, source, number reused for a different title in 1951)

22. TALES OF GOOD AND EVIL: by Nicolai Gogol, translated with an Introduction by David Magarshack. (1949)
23. THE AMERICAN: by Henry James, with a Preface by the author and an Introductory note by Michael Swan. (1949)
**24. WILLIAM BLAKE: A Selection, with an Introduction by Edith Sitwell. (not published, source; series number apparently not reused)
*25. THE LIFE OF A SPORTSMAN: by Nimrod (Charles Apperley), with an Introduction by John Moore and a frontispiece in colour by Alken. (1948)
*26. EOTHEN: by A.W. Kinglake, with an Introduction by P.H. Newby. (1948)
*27. TRISTRAM SHANDY: by Laurence Sterne, with an Introduction by Peter Quennell and drawings by Cruikshank. (1948)

28. TRAVELS AMONGST THE GREAT ANDES: by Edward Whymper, edited with an Introduction by F. S. Smythe. (1949)
29. THE LIFE OF JOHN CONSTABLE: by C.R. Leslie, with an Introduction by Benedict Nicolson. (1949)
30. TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY: by Tobias Smollett, with an Introduction by Osbert Sitwell. (1949)

31. THE PRINCESS CASAMASSIMA: by Henry James, with a Preface by the author and an Introductory note by Michael Swan. (1950)
*32. WASHINGTON SQUARE: by Henry James, with an Introduction by Valentine Dobree. (1949)
33. THE CONVERSATIONS OF DR. JOHNSON: Edited with an Introduction by Raymond Postgate. (1949)
****34. LOST ILLUSIONS: by Honore de Balzac, translated with an Introduction by Kathleen Raine. (issued in 1951, but not in series, series number reused for a different title in 1951)
35. THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD: by Charles Dickens, with an Introduction by Michael Innes and drawings by Luke Fildes. (1950)
36. A GENTLE CREATURE and other Stories: by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated with an Introduction by David Magarshack. (1950)

***21. NORTH AND SOUTH: by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, with an introduction by Elizabeth Bowen. (1951)
***34. BILLY BUDD AND OTHER STORIES: by Herman Melville, with an introduction by Rex Warner. (1951)

#?. WHITE JACKET: by Herman Melville, with an introduction by William Plomer. (1951; could be #24 or #37). I have a copy of this book – see below – and the series number is not evident on the jacket or in the book. Appears with a Grove Press imprint in WorldCat.

38. THE BOSTONIANS: by Henry James, with an introduction by Lionel Trilling. (1952)

#? THE EUROPEANS: A SKETCH: by Henry James, with an introduction by Edward Sackville-West. (1952; could be #24 or #39)

*Date issued is out of serial sequence
**Not published (ghost titles)
***Used earlier serial number of title not published
****Issued out of series

Henry James’ Roderick Hudson and an anthology Shelley in Italy are both 1947 printings.


A catalog of the first 24 titles in the Chiltern Library:


A catalog of the first 32 volumes in the Chiltern Library:


36 titles in the series:


James’ Roderick Hudson and The Lesson of the Master, both 1948 titles:


Disraeli’s Coningsby (1948) and James’ The American (1949):


Around 1947 the huge typography on the jacket spines is replaced by a more petite design (see below). This copy of The Conversations of Dr. Johnson is dated 1950. The number of titles has stalled at 36. The price remains the same at 8s/6d.


By 1950, when The Forsaken Garden anthology and Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood are published, the price has risen to 10/6 net. Otherwise, the jacket and book design remain the same, with the same 36 titles listed in the series.


Melville’s White Jacket is among the last titles in the series published in 1952. The price is now 12s/6d. The jacket lacks the list of titles on the back, replaced by two recent Chiltern Library issues and a literary criticism book published by Lehmann.


The binding is the same cloth but the decorations are simpler and the series name is removed from the base of the spine.


The Chiltern Library reached at least 39 titles, the last of which were published in 1952. Lehmann closed down in 1953. A few titles were reprinted through the late 1950s under the Lehmann imprint.