Film Lover’s Library

Cecil Palmer (London, UK)
Series dates: 1921-1922
Size: 5″ x 7.25″

Publisher Cecil Palmer’s Film Lover’s Library may have been the first series devoted to movie tie-in novels. The series was first advertised in 1921 as “A series of famous stories which have been adapted as picture plays, printed in good type, on good paper and strongly bound in cloth, with artistic three-color wrappers. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net.” (The Publisher, vol 115, p. 324, 1921). According to one source, the books were published “to coincide with the film.” (Alan Burton & Laraine Porter, The Showman, the Spectacle and the Two-minute Silence: Performing British Cinema Before 1930. Flicks Books, May 18, 2001. Footnote 5 on p. 61.)

A review of Tansy (a 1921 title) in The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art (Volume 132, p. 671) noted, about the series, that “They remove a fear that the public which fills the cinemas would lose altogether the habit of reading, and since people could read these could read anything we are filled with some hope for the future.” I’m not sure that’s praise for the series or not.

Inexpensive, movie-tie in series, often referred to as photoplay editions, were first published in the early teens and would explode in popularity in the 1920s (including publishers such as Grosset & Dunlap and Burt). Among the more successful series (which included, but was not limited to photoplay editions) was the cheaply produced and garishly jacketed Readers Library (initially issued in 1924).

Palmer’s Film Lover’s Library, however, did not thrive, issuing only five titles in 1921 and 1922:

Edward Tickner Edwardes, Tansy.
Joseph Rhode Grismer, Way Down East: a Romance of New England Life.
John Le Breton, Thomas Le Breton, A Sister to Assist ‘Er (New edition of the work previously purporting to be by John de Breton, revised and enlarged).

Cedric D. Fraser, M’lord O’ the White Road.
Felix Orman, The Glorious Adventure. A Romance of the Great Fire of London (with plates).

Jackets for the Film Lover’s Library are unique to each title and illustrated with graphics related to the film. The jacket spine includes a series or publisher’s colophon (of a woman) repeated on the book’s title page. The price and edition (this is a “Second English Edition” – but most likely a second printing). The series name is included on the front of the jacket, as is mention of the D.W. Griffith movie based upon the book. The front jacket flap advertises another title in the series, along with the price and indication of the publisher.

The rear of the jacket advertises another Cecil Palmer title (by Sarah Bernhardt) that is not in the series. The rear jacket flap advertises a 2nd title in the Film Lover’s Library.

Bindings are in cloth, this one in red with black typography on the spine and the imprint of the colophon on the front of the book.

The half-title page includes the series name.

The title page is faced by an advertisement for another title in the series. The title page repeats the mention of D.W. Griffith’s film based on the book.

The copyright page indicates that this copy is a second edition; both editions are 1921.