English Life in English Literature

Methuen & Co., Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1928-1952
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

Harcourt, Brace & Co. (New York, US)
Series dates: 1928-1930
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

Folcroft Press / Folcroft Library Editions (Folcroft, PA, US)
Series dates: 1969-1977

Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY, US)
Series dates: 1970-1972

Scholarly Press (St. Clair Shores, MI, US)
Series dates: 1971

Revised 6/15/2023

English Life in English Literature was a series of seven planned volumes, with two never published, issued by Meuthen in the UK and Harcourt Brace in the US beginning in 1928. The series was edited by Eileen Power and A.W. Reed. The series is an example of commissioned works (thus new and not reprints) with a clear plan for titles from the initiation of the series. Two of the planned titles (see below) were not published; an additional title was added to the series (#7) in 1930. No new titles were added after that date, but reprints (by Methuen, Harcourt Brace, and additional library reprint publishers in the 1960s and 1970s) were issued (suggesting the series titles had some staying power).

Published in both the UK and the US, the series was aimed at the education market, although it was advertised in the late 1920s and 1930s in publications such as the London Times and Times Literary Review (see below).

Left: Advertisement in the Times Literary Supplement, March 22, 1928, p. 201

The list of titles below is replicated in content from the copy of England from Chaucer to Caxton (1928), with scans shown further below. One title (#7) was added to that list in 1930. Two titles (#2 and #4) were apparently not published (ghost titles). Thus five titles were published, in total. I’ve added the year editions were issued from the two primary publishers (Methuen in the UK, and Harcourt Brace in the US) and three reprint publishers from the 1960s and 1970s. Abbreviations:

M: Methuen
HB: Harcourt Brace
FP: Folcroft Press / Folcroft Library Editions
BLP: Books for Libraries Press
SP: Scholarly Press


GENERAL EDITORS: Eileen Power. M.A., D.Lit., Reader in Economic History in the University of London; and A.W. Reed, M.A., D.Lit., Professor of English Language and Literature in the University of London.

Crown 8vo, 6s. net each

1. England from Chaucer to Caxton. By H.S. Bennett, M.A., University Lecturer in English; Emmanuel College, Cambridge. (M 1928, 1952; HB 1928, BLP 1970; FP 1973)
*2. England from Caxton to Spenser. By Professor. M. Berdan, of Yale University.
3. England in Shakespeare’s Day. By G.B. Harrison, M.A., Lecturer in English Literature at King’s College, University of London. (M 1928, 1949; HB 1928, 2007 (?); FP 1969, 1976; BLP 1970; SP 1971
*4. England from Bunyan to Defoe. By J. Isaacs, B.A., Lecturer in English Literature at King’s College, University of London.
5. England in Johnson’s Day. By M. Dorothy George, M.A. (Methuen 1928, 1942; HB 1929; BLP 1972; FP 1973, 1977)
6. England from Wordsworth to Dickens. By R.W. King, M.A., Lecturer in English Language and Literature, University College of North Wales, Bangor. (M; 1928, 1945, 1948; HB 1929; FP 1977

Added to the series after the 1928 list:

7. England Under Victoria. By H. V. Routh (Methuen: 1930, 1941; HB 1930, 1931; FP 1973)

* Not published

Jackets are common to the series, although printed on different color paper for different titles. The spine includes the title, author, price (6/- net), and publisher. In this case, a UK edition of England from Chaucer to Caxton by H.S. Bennett was published in 1928, the first year of the series. The title, author, series name, and editors are included on the front of the jacket. The front jacket flap blurbs the title.

The back of the dust jacket includes a description of the series with what were probably the first two published titles, #1 and #3. The rear jacket flap includes related history titles from Methuen.

The orange cloth bindings are also common to the series, with the title, author, and publisher on the spine and the title, author, and series on the front of the book.

Blank end-papers. This particular book was sold at one point at W. Heffer & Sons Ltd., Booksellers (New and Second-hand), Cambridge, England.

The half-title page includes the series’ name and title.

The projected six titles with details of authors face the title page. The series numbers only appear in this list of titles facing the title page.

On the copyright page: “First Published in 1928.” “Printed in Great Britain.”

The last page in the book: “Printed in Great Britain by Butler and Tanner Ltd., Frome and London.”