F.P. Library

Federation Press, Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1924-1925
Size: 4.75″ x 7″

aka/ Federation Press Library

Revised 7/5/2023

The Federation Press Ltd. was established by Arthur Gray (1889-1960) and Frederick Matthew Mowl (1887-1949). The Federation Press Ltd. was proffering The Handy Phrase Book in 1923 (Cassell’s Weekly, June 27, 1923). The first titles appear in WorldCat in 1924. The firm also appears in the Newspaper Press Directory for 1924. (source) The title below, and the F.P. Library series, are from this era.

The F.P. Library is an example of a pulp series – with different titles issued in hardcover and softcover – “pulp” after the cheap pulp paper used for the books. Pulp fiction developed in the 1860s and hit its stride in the 1920s when the F.P. Library series was issued.

I’ve found no advertisements for the F.P. Library series nor from the publisher in the typical places (London Times, TLS, Google Books, Archive.org).

After compiling a list of F.P. Library titles (below) and some basic research, I believe the F.P. Library was the initial series offered by Federation Press. Some of the titles were repackaged in subsequent series published by the firm. The Federation Press folded in 1928: A notice in the Bookseller (1928, source) indicates the firm is “winding up voluntarily.”

In 1928 Gray and Mowl founded the Gramol Press (the name from a combination of Gray and Mowl). A tremendous number of pulp titles were subsequently issued under diverse series names: “Gramol Mystery Novels, Gramol Thriller Novels, the Gramol Women’s Novel Library, Gramol Girls Popular Novels, the Boy’s Novel Library, Girls’ Complete Story Novelettes, Girl’s Novel Library, The Schoolgirls’ Novel Library, Snappy Novels, Threepenny Novels, the Adelphi Novels, the New Adelphi Novels, the Regent Novels, as well as the Gramol Cinema Novel Library.” (source)

On Gramol Press: “One of the worst paying firms in Fleet Street, who specialised in ‘sensational novels,’ was McKeag’s recollection of them. As Federation Press and Gramol Publications they had begun producing a line of saucy novels, written by some of the most prolific authors of the era, the most famous being Richard Goyne who, as Paul Renin, caused a sensation, especially in 1931 when Mowl and Grey were taken to court over four of his novels.” (source)

“Gray and Mowl ended up in the dock at the Old Bailey in February 1931, indicted for “publishing and selling indecent books likely to corrupt public morals.” One of the four books produced as specimens was Reville’s “Arabian Passion.” The charges were ludicrous by modern standards. I will perhaps write up the farcical trial on another occasion: it featured both three young women being removed from the courtroom for “giggling and tittering” and the Gramol counsel (John Frederick Eales, K.C.) pleading quaintly that “girls to-day played tennis in costumes which, thirty years ago, they would not have dreamt of”. Ludicrous or not, Gray and Mowl were each sentenced to six months in prison and subsequently flatly refused leave to appeal, with a demand from the bench as to why more of the people involved had not been prosecuted.” (source)

A report on the trial is in the Times, Wednesday,  Jan. 7, 1931. (PDF here)

Gramol Press ceased in 1937. That same year Gray and Mowl incorporated Publishers Agents Ltd. “to carry on the business of publishers’ and agents’, etc.” (source). Arthur Gray established the Phoenix Press. Both continued to issue similar titles as the Gramol Press. Gray was later associated with the firm Popular Publications. “Gray’s son, Barrington, also got into publishing, producing books under his own name and the imprint Grayling Publishing Co.” (source).

This is a long way to say that the series here, the F.P. Library, was the first of a half dozen series issued by Gray and Mowl as Federation Press, the start of a prolific run of popular pulp fiction that, as is not uncommon in this era, eventually landed the publishers in jail. The literature was just the sort that was likely to sell very well but also to offend the prudish sensibilities of the powers that be.

Shown below is an F.P. Library title, The Terrible Ordeal of One-Eyed Mike Malone by A. Victor Hyde. The book is copyrighted in 1925, which could be the publication date for this book, although other titles in the series list adjacent to it were issued in 1924.

This particular title is elusive, with no copies in WorldCat and only a few appearing on used book sites. This particular title seems not to be a reprint (it was likely written for the series), and its quality left it unlikely to garner anything more than short-term interest. The author, A. Victor Hyde, is also elusive, with two publications in the “how-to-write” genre: Writing for Pounds, Shillings, and Pence (as Derek Arthur, 1925) and Freelance Journalism: A Practical Guide to Success (George Allen, London, 1928).

The dust jackets or covers (many of these books were paperbacks) were typically sensationalistic, sometimes pushing the boundaries of what could be displayed and sold in their era. In many ways, the artwork is what sold the books and continues, as in the case of paperback pulp novels, to push collectors’ interest.

The jacket spine is damaged, but the remaining part includes the book title and author. The publisher was probably indicated at the base of the spine. The front of the jacket resembles the artwork from the Readers Library and includes the title, price (1/6), author, and a blurb for the book. The artwork is signed by “Ibbetson.”

The front jacket flap includes the series name (as F.P. Library) and a list of “Stiff Bound Novels” (hardcover) in the library.

The indication of F.P. Library on the jacket, the stylized “FP Library” on the book cover, and no mention of this series anywhere else that I can find lead me to give it the abbreviated name (rather than Federation Press Library) as its official name.

A few of the Western titles in the F.P. Library are drawn from an unnamed series of books published by The Garden City Publishing Co. in 1923. An advertisement for the books was published in The Pathfinder (Washington DC, October 23, 1923):

The list of titles in the series below indicates a mish-mash of reprints from different publishers and a few of what seem to be first editions (written for the series, which was common for pulp fiction titles). Genres include Westerns, detective stories, romances, horse racing, maybe some mobster stories, and what are undoubtedly some exotic and sexy tales. Some of the reprints may have been abridged to save money (fewer pages to print).

There are at least 24 titles in the cloth series, and 16 in the paper-bound series, for a total of 40 F.P. Library titles. I include earlier editions in the list below if I found them, the year of the F.P. Library edition, and subsequent editions (if in different Federation Press series). Given the ephemeral nature of these books, without the dust jackets (and covers of paperbacks), it is nearly impossible to detail titles in these pulp fiction series.

Stiff Bound Novels
Spawn of the Desert, by W.C. Tuttle (Garden City Pub. Co. 1922; Federation F.P. Library 1924)
Don Quickshot of the Rio Grande, by Stephen Chalmers (Garden City Pub. Co. 1923; Federation F.P. Library 1924)
*Mormon Valley, by H. Bedford Jones & E. Milne-Skillman (Garden City Pub. Co. 1923, Federation F.P. Library 1924)
*The Wonder Strands, by S.A. White + The Gentleman from New York, by Herbert Harding (Federation F.P. Library 1924)
Sky High Corral, by Ralph Cummins (Garden City Pub. Co. 1923; Federation F.P. Library 1924)
*The Hen Herder, by J. Allan Dunn (Garden City Pub. Co. 1923; Federation F.P. Library 1924)
*The Law of the Range, by W.C. Tuttle (Garden City Pub. Co. 1923; Federation F.P. Library 1924)
*The Night Rider, by Elmer Brown Mason (Garden City Pub. Co. 1923; Federation F.P. Library 1924)
The God of the Turf, by Archie Bellairs (Federation: F.P. Library 1924, Racing Novels. no. 1, 1927)
Silken Scarlet, by H. Cecil Gask (Federation: F.P. Library 1924, Racing Novels. no. 3, 1927)
The Terrible Ordeal of One-Eyed Mike Malone, by A. Victor Hyde (Federation: F.P. Library, 1925)
The Golden Snake, by Donald Campbell (Federation: F.P. Library 1924, My Pocket 3d Library #114, 1927)
Tales of Balukek, by Archie Bellairs (Federation: F.P. Library 1924, Racing Novels. no. 14, 1927)
The Padre of the Movies, by Violet M. Methley (Federation: F.P. Library 1925)
The Last Shot & Other Stories, by Richard Goyne (Federation: F.P. Library 1925)
The Mystery of the Hidden City, by Albert E. Bull (Federation: F.P. Library 1925)
The Gallant Graham, by May Wynne (M.W. Knowles) (Greening: Greening’s Colonial Library 1911; Copp Clark (Toronto, Canada) 1912; Federation: F.P. Library 1925)
The Fourth Silhouette, by Anna McClure Sholl (Federation: F.P. Library 1925)
The Lady of the Bungalow, by E. Everett-Green (Stanley Paul & Co. 1911; Federation: F.P. Library 1925)
The Beautiful Devil, by Detective Dunn (Charles E. Pearce) (Stanley Paul & Co. 1923; Federation: F.P. Library 1925) (“harshly abridged, with the word count being reduced by about a third.” [source])

#The Unworthy Pact, by Dorothea Gerard (Federation: FP Library 1925) (source)
#Parisian Nights, by Richard Goyne (Federation: FP Library 1925) (source)
#Because of Phoebe, by Kate Horn (Federation: FP Library 1925) (source)
#The Mystery of the Lostland Academy, by Anna McClure Sholl (Federation: FP Library 1925) (source)

# Not in the dust jacket list on The Terrible Ordeal but seen in a hardcover, FP Library binding

The paperback novels are more difficult to track down, unlikely in libraries (thus not documented in WorldCat), and more ephemeral in form. I am unable to confirm that 13 of these titles were issued in the F.P. Library series and that 7 were published at all. My guess is that they all were published, however.

Paper Covered Novels
White Slaves of Two Cities, by H. Dupres (Federation: F.P. Library 1924)
The Street of Many Shadows, by Paul Renin (Richard Goyne) (Federation: F.P. Library 1924)
**Night Birds, by Paul Renin
**The Murder on the Moor, by Ronald Oakley
***A Racing Secret, by Archie Bellairs (Federation: Racing Novels. no. 2, 1927)
****The Door of Doom, by Ralph Vincent
****My Chinese Husband, by Jean Maye
***The Jockey’s Betrayal, by John Anstey (Federation: Racing Novels. no. 6, 1927)
**The Brute, by Paul Renin
****The Drama in the Window, by C.E. Briggs
***The Trainer’s Dilemma, by Archie Bellairs (Federation: Racing Novels. no. 4, 1927)
****A Daughter of Pleasure, by C.E. Briggs
****Desert Whispers, by C. Milne-Skillman
Shop Soiled, by H. (Henri) Dupres (Frank Dubrez Fawcett) (Federation: F.P. Library 1924)
****The Secret Heart, by C.E. Briggs
****Mad Nights, by H. Dupres

*Listed in the Garden City advertisement (shown above)
**I can find later editions of this title, but none issued by Federation Press
***I can find only the Federation Press Racing Novels series edition of this book (1927)
****I can find no editions of this title

The rear of the jacket repeats the list of titles from the front jacket flap. The rear flap adds the “Paper Covered Novels” in the series. The publishers’ address is included at the base of all three of these lists.

Bindings are cheap and coarse cloth, this one in red with black ink. I’ve also seen tan cloth overprinted with red ink. Again, the book, its binding, and its paper resemble the Readers Library. The F.P. Library logo is worked into a billowing design on the front cover of the book.

Ornate endpapers suggest, along with the book cover, there was some attempt to make these books look like more expensive titles.

The half-title page follows:

The title page includes the title, author, and London imprint of the Federation Press, Ltd. The address is 61-62 Chancery Lane, W.C.2.

The copyright page and contents:

The contents continued and the beginning of the text. It’s a pretty painful read.

Squeezed into the last bit of text on the last page is the publisher and printing information. “Printed in Ireland.”

The rear end-papers are the same as the front end-papers: