Dohnavur Books

S.P.C.K. Depot (Vepery, Madras, India), S.P.C.K. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1921-1958
Size: 5.5″ x 8.25″

Vepery is a neighborhood of Madras (now Chennai) in south-eastern India. It is among the earliest British settlements in the area, with missionaries arriving in 1749 (when the treaty of Aix la Chapelle returned control of the city to the English from the French). The Vepery Mission is among the oldest Church of England missions in India (source).

The SPCK, or Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, founded in 1698, is “the oldest Anglican mission organization, and the leading publisher of Christian books in the United Kingdom” (source). The SPCK also published books outside of Europe and sold them at their SPCK Depot bookstores.

“SPCK’s early publications were distributed through a network of supporters who received books and tracts to sell or give away in their own localities. … By the 19th century, members had organized local district committees, many of which established small book depots – which at one time numbered over four hundred. … In the 1930s a centrally coordinated network of SPCK Bookshops was established, offering a wide range of books from many different publishers. At its peak, the SPCK bookshop chain consisted of 40 shops in the UK and 20 overseas. The latter were gradually passed into local ownership during the 1960s and 1970s” (source)

The Dohnavur Books were part of the work of Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), a Christian missionary from Ireland who settled in Dohnavur (in south India) in 1901 and established the Dohnavur Fellowship. The Dohnavur Fellowship survives to this day. Dohnavur was named after “Count Dohna, who initially funded German missionaries at the site in the early 19th century” (source).

Carmichael’s work focused in particular on “temple prostitution” where girls and women, dedicated to the gods by their families, were prostituted to earn money for temple priests. Carmichael established a mission and orphanage that served as many as 1000 children. Funds came from donations as well as the sale of the many books she wrote and sold as part of the Dohnavur Books series.

The Dohnavur Books were, then, a series of Christian books authored primarily by Carmichael, printed (in the case of the book below, by George Kenneth at the Diocesan Press, Madras) and distributed by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) bookstore in Madras, India. The earliest title I can find in the series was published in 1921. By 1928 it seems that the Dohnavur Books are being published by SPCK in London. Titles by other authors (and reprints by Carmichael) are issued after Carmichael’s death in 1951. The last new book issued seems to be in 1958. Reprints under the series name appear as late as the 1980s. The SPCK Depot in Madras appears on imprints between 1880 and 1956.

Carmichael’s Mimosa, Who Was Charmed, was originally issued in 1924 and reprinted numerous times, as late as the 1970s. This is the 2nd edition published in 1925. The utilitarian jacket is heavy, dark green paper. The title appears on the spine (alone) and on the front of the jacket, with the author’s name. The jacket flaps are blank.

The back of the jacket and rear jacket flap are blank.

The bindings are also dark green, cloth, with the title and author (following the dust jacket) debossed and printed in gold.

The illustrated endpapers:

There is no half-title page. The title page includes the Madras imprint and 1925 date.

Printed in India by George Kenneth at the Diocesan Press, Madras.

The forward:

A list of the available Dohnavur Books with prices, English and Indian, postpaid or not. The next page lists “Dohnavur Secretaries” around the world from whom Dohnavur Books can be purchased.

Dohnavur Books:

The titles below in the first grouping are those listed in the catalog of Dohnavur Books in the copy of Mimosa, above. Some were previously published (in England or Scotland) and most likely reprinted by the SPCK Depot. I include original imprints, and dates if I can find them.

Things as They Are: Mission Work in Southern India (Cheap edition) (London, Morgan & Scott Ltd. 1903)
The Beginning of a Story (London: Morgan & Scott, 1908)
The Continuation of a Story (London: Morgan & Scott, 1908)
Made in the Pans: Poems of Joy and Comfort and Battle (Edinburgh: Oliphant’s Ltd., 1917)
From the Forest (London/Edinburgh: Oliphant’s Ltd., 1921)
*Dohnavur Songs
*Ragland: Pioneer (1922)
*Nor Scrip (1921)
*Tables in the Wilderness (1923)
*Ponnamal: Her Story (cheap edition) (London: Morgan & Scott, 1917)
A Sketch of Walker of Tinnevelly (London, Morgan & Scott, 1916)
*Raisins and God’s Missionary
*Mimosa (1924)
*The Valley of Vision (A poem meant only for those who walk in painful ways). “Paper, Blue Sheepskin”
*The Brigand’s Story, English (1924)
*The Brigand’s Story, Tamil (1924)
*The story of the conversion of a famous robber captain, and of how he was kept under tremendous temptation.

* Printed privately.

Additional titles under the Dohnavur Books series name:

Meal in a Barrel, Amy Carmichael (1923) (London: SPCK)
The Widow of the Jewels, 
Amy Carmichael (1928) (London, SPCK)
Gold by Moonlight, Amy Carmichael (1935) (London, SPCK)
Ploughed Under. The Story of a Little Lover, Amy Carmichael (1935) (London, SPCK)
Towards Jerusalem, Amy Carmichael (1936) (London, SPCK)
If, Amy Carmichael (1938) (London, SPCK)
His Thoughts Said, Amy Carmichael (1940) (London, SPCK)
Rose from Brier, Amy Carmichael (1950) (London, SPCK)
Greater is He, Nancy Robbins (1952) (London, SPCK)
God’s Missionary, Amy Carmichael (1953) (London, SPCK)
Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur: The Story of a Lover and her Beloved, Frank Houghton (1953) (London, SPCK)
Edges of His Ways, Amy Carmichael (1955) (London, SPCK)
Understanding to the Simple, Nancy E Robbins (1958) (London, SPCK)
The Timothys: Schoolgirls in South Africa, Barbara Maud Gasking Trehane (1958) (Published for the Dohnavur Fellowship by Lutterworth Press)

From whom Dohnavur Books may be obtained
England: Mrs. Streeter, 41, High Street, Oxford
Ireland: Mrs. Waller, 3, Carlton Terrace, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Scotland: Miss A. Arnot, Mayfield, Dunlop
Australia: Miss Beath, 23, Ardoch, Dandenong Road, E., St. Kilda, Melbourne
New Zealand: Miss M. Herriott, 28, Windsor Terrace, Richmond, Christchurch
U.S.A.: Miss Cora A. Kane, 107, Colombia St., Albany, New York
Canada: Miss E. Gomery, 80, Roberval Avenue, Montreal, Canada
S. Africa: Mrs. Hutchinson, Dickens Street, Port Elizabeth
China: Mrs. Woods, 723, Dixwell Rd., Shanghai
India: Miss D. Waller, Dohnavur, Tinnevelly District

Or from S.P.C.K. Depot, Post Box 455, Vepery, Madras.