First Novel Library

Hutchinson & Co. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1933-1951
Size: 6.5″ x 4.5″

T. Fisher Unwin’s Pseudonym Library (1880-1903) drew attention to itself by the fact that books in the series were published by authors using a pseudonym. This lent a bit of mystery to the series, and readers were drawn to the idea that a famous author may be behind one of the series titles. As the Pseudonym Library faded, Unwin established the First Novel Library series. This series, published from 1902-1927, drew attention to itself by offering authors who just might become famous.   Indeed, best selling authors Ethel Dell and Dorothy Sayers were first published in the series. (basic information from “The Series as Commodity: Marketing Fisher Unwin’s Pseudonym and Autonym Library,” Frederick Nesta; published as ‘The Series as Commodity: Marketing Fisher Unwin’s Pseudonym and Autonym Library’ in The Culture of the Publisher’s Series: Authors, Publishers and the Shaping of Taste. Vol. 1, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 171-187.)

In 1933, six years after the last of Unwin’s First Novel Library titles were published, Hutchinson issued its own First Novel Library, consisting of first novels, often by authors using a pseudonym. Thus Hutchinson was trying to stoke interest in the series using ideas that drove Unwin’s Pseudonym and First Novel series in decades prior.

An advertisement in the rear of a 1934 copy of Portrait Of His Excellency
by Mckenna Stephen (published by Hutchinson) describes the dizzying success of Hutchinson’s First Novel Library and details new titles #18, #19, and #20. In addition, the first 17 titles are listed:

A reasonable number of Hutchinson’s First Novel Series titles are actual first editions, thus they are often priced higher than typical reprint series books.

Hutchinson’s First Novel Library would go on to publish a total of 139 titles in the series before ending in 1951. There do not seem to be any reprints after the last title was issued in 1951. The series titles are interesting in that many are by female writers and, as with the earlier Unwin series, a good number of titles seem to be authored using pseudonyms. Many are new publications, but some seem to be reprints of better-known authors first novels.

A list of series titles is below, followed by the year of publication. For the most part, the series numbers follow a chronological order, but there are a few instances where titles were issued out of order. For example, the highest series number is #139 published in 1950, but #136 was published in 1951. A few titles are missing (despite my best efforts to track them down):

#1: Sisters’ Children, by Mary F. Codd (1933)
#2: Beloved Stranger, by Marlson Shrager (1933)
#3: Roast Beef on Sunday, by Rosalind Le Fleming (1933)
#4: Brass and Cymbals, by Jean Campbell (1933)
#5: Ship’s Magic, by Jill Spencer (1933)
#6: Now Rests that Unquiet Heart, by Jean Cooke (1933)
#7: The Kindly Gods, by Eileen Dwyer (1934)
#8: Wayfaring Women, by Ellen Gatti (1934)
#9: Cobweb Child, by P. Summerhayes (1934)
#10: No Man’s Woman, by Eileen Dwyer (1934)
#11: Design, by Kathleen Erskine (1934)
#12: Hungarian Rhapsody, Maeve O’Callaghan (1934)
#13: Murder at Bayside, by Raymond Robins (1934)
#14: Written for Elizabeth, by Margaret Morrison (1934)
#15: Lonely Generation, by May Wedderburn Cannan (1934)
#16: Comboman: A Tale of Central Australia, by Conrad H Sayce (1934)
#17: The Deadly Virtue, by Ellison Munro (1934)
#18: Murder in Public, by John Crozier (1935)
#19: Hemp, by Ernest Wells (1934)
#20: The Sheltering Pine, by John Angus (1934)
#21: Neither Gold Nor Silver, by Rosilind Hollingsworth (1934)
#22: Easter Sun, by Peter Neagoe (1934)
#23: The Unseen Audience, by Dora Fowler Martin (1934)
#24: Laughing Mountains, by Kay Lynn (1934)
#25: The Wall, etc., by Margot Arnold (1935)
#26: Green Apples Blush, by Norah Ray Borghys (1935)
#27: No Ordinary Virgin, by Eve Chaucer (1935)
#28: Madeline of the Desert, by Arthur E.P. Brome Weigall (1935)
#29: Blossoms in the Moon, by Blanche Smith Ferguson (1935)
#30: Behind the Evidence, by Leonard Blackledge (1935)
#32: Catherine Herself, by James Hilton (1935)
#33: Garment of Repentance, by Catherine Wright (1935)
#34: Red Wind, by Norah Sloane Stanley (1935)
#35: Storm Before Sunrise, by Diana Frances Young (1935)
#36: Wanted a Son, by Hazel Adair (1935)
#37: The Homeward Tide, by Joan Mackenzie (1935)
#38: Death Glides In, by E.A. Elsworthy (1935)
#39: Bitter Glory, by Leon Thornber (1935)
#40: Gregory’s Daughter, by Mary Landale (1935)
#41: Fresh Furrows, by Marion Temple (1935)
#42: Sleeve O’ Silk, by Mary Geikie (1935)
#43: Storm Before Sunrise, by D. Frances Young (1935)
#44: Murder by Chance, by Peter Drax (pseud. Eric Elrington Addis) (1936)
#45: Opera House, by Marjorie Richards (1935)
#46: Directors’ Corridor, by Caroline Francis (1936)
#47: Duet in Kerath, by Godfrey Thomas Benedict Harvey (1936)
#48: Shadows in Sunlight, by Dorothy Wright (1936)
#49: The Gay Cockerel, by Janet Duff (1936)
#50: She-Devil: A Tale of Piracy and Adventure, by W.F. Taylor
#51: The Alchemist, by M. Armstrong Payn (1936)
#52: Head Office, by Hugh Preston (1936)
#54: A Nest Among the Stars, by Trevor Williams (1936)
#55: Go Down, Moses, by Jane Rees Wogan (1936)
#56: Pennychuck, by Slade Kennedy (1936)
#57: Random Journey, by Raymond Walter Barnard (1937)
#58: It Wasn’t a Nightmare, by Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay (1937)
#60: Bacon and Olives, by Sadie Robinson (1937)
#61: Passport to Death, by Bernard Home (1937)
#62: The Silken Skin, by Frances Croft (1937)
#65: Decree Absolute, by Sonia Deane (1937)
#66: The Dark Fire, by Elinor Mordaunt (1939)
#67: Virgin Soil, by Eleanor Turton (1938)
#68: We Things Called Women, by Dulcie Sancier (1938)
#69: April Sky, by Janet Gordon (pseud.) (1938)
#70: Marriage for Two, by Marjorie Hogarth (1938)
#71: Short Let …, by Leslie Burgess (1938)
#72: Beauty Products: The Story of a Woman by Virginia Vernon (1938)
#73: Doctor Allen, G.P., by Ray Maplesden (pseud.) (1938)
#74: Blind Arrows, by Joy Langton (1938)
#75: The Loquacious Vessel, by Mark Vinton (1938)
#76: As One of the Family, by Agnes Ancroft (1938)
#77: Moonshine Over the Kremlin, by Sergyei Potemkin (1938)
#79: The Pindars, by Adelaide Q. Roby (1939)
#80: Marriage Made on Earth, by Margaret Gregory (1939)
#81: Death Wears a White Gardenia, by Zelda Popkin (1939)
#82: On Ordinary Feet, by Susan Muir (1939)
#83: Life Beings for Father, by Margerie Scott (1939)
#84: The Scarlet Bee, by Tanjong (1939)
#85: Dangerous Edge, by Estelle Louise Hewitt (1939)
#86: Arms for the Love of Allah, by Anthony Harding (1936)
#87: The Star of the Greys, by Harwood, Alice (?)
#88: Dangerous Friend, by Charles Denny (1939)
#89: The Siege, by Josephine Delves Broughton (1939)
#90: Behold! The Executioner!, by Eric Harding (1939)
#91: Town Wife, by Bridget Chetwynd
#92: Murder at the Black Swan, by Nicholas Walthew (1939)
#93: The Death Guard, by Philip George Chadwick (1939)
#94: Conway, K.C., by Simon Stone (pseud.) (1940)
#95: Mail for McNair, by Sandford Lock (1940)
#96: Six Bars at Seven, by Mollie Kaye (1940)
#97: The Merchantman, by V.L. Making (?)
#98: Sacrifice to Mars, by Averil Mackenzie-Grieve (1939)
#99: Salute To The Brave, by Clementine Hunter (1940)
#100: Pindrop, by B.C. Hilliam (1940)
#101: Jam Yesterday, by Nicholas Gregory (1940)
#102: Broken Earth, by John Charlton (1940)
#103: Bargasoles, by Geoffrey S. Garnier (1940)
#104: So Help Me God, by A.W. Holmes (1940)
#105: Man is for Woman Made, by Jane Gilbert (1940)
#106: Chippewayo, North!, by Ella R Bruce (1940)
#107: Tip and Run, by William Tait (1940)
#108: Verboten, by Sidney Esmond (1940)
#109: Selina Triumphant, by Frances Huish (1940)
#110: In Our Metropolis …, by Phyllis Livingstone (1940)
#111: Murder at the Admiralty, by Eric Bennett (1941)
#112: Nine Bells by Kendal Davies (1947) (thanks to Mandy Boobyer from The Book Exchange of Jackson, Jackson, MI)
#113: Battle Without Glory, by Robert Cooper Trown (1947)
#114: Salt of Youth: A Tale of Spanish Yesterdays, by Evelyn Gail Gardiner (1947)
#115: The Curious Were Killed, by Dorothy Bennett (1947)
#116: The Three Isles, by Roby Spence (1947)
#117: I Do But Follow, by Margaret Scutt (1947)
#118: Hanged by a Thread, by Denis Haddow (1947)
#119: Hardship Our Garment, by Leslie Wood (1947)
#120: To a Dark Lady, by Constance King (1947)
#121: Risky, by G.M. Wilson (1948)
#122: Murder in the Telephone Exchange, by June Wright (1949)
#123: Poor Prisoner’s Defence, Richard Sheldon (1949)
#124: Death in Reserve, by Thomas Muir
#125: Lightning on the Veld, etc., by Katharine Louisa Simms (1948)
#126: She Shall Have Music, by Raya Keen (1948)
#127: The Flesh is Willing, by Roderic Owen (1948)
#128: The Inn of Grief, by Egerton Kent (1948)
#129: It Might Have Been You, by Roland Loewe (1949)
#130: The Dock Road, by J. Francis Hall (1940)
#131: The Village on the Sands, by Dorothy Clare Stapleton (1950)
#132: Death in the Headlines, by Robert Sharp (1950)
#133: Creole, by Lucille Iremonger (1950)
#134: Two Lovers Too Many, by Joan Fleming (1941)
#136: Green Felicity, by Elisabeth Hargreaves (1951)
#137: The Scandalous Lady Robin, by Sylvia Thorpe (1950)
#138: The Green Tree and the Dry, by Ivan Roe (1950)
#139: Cadenza, by Peggy Barwell (1950)

From the beginning, Hutchinson’s First Novel Library jackets were illustrated in a manner that suggested this was a popular literature series (rather than, say, more literary). All the jackets I’ve seen are unique to the title, and similar in look to the jacket shown below, for #117 in the series, I Do But Follow by Margaret Scutt. This is one of a pair of historical romances Scutt published around WW2. A third novel, a mystery, (Corpse Path Cottage) was published posthumously in 2017.

There is no indication of the series name on the front of the jacket or front flap. I believe the series name is indicated on the jacket spine (at the base, where it is damaged). A price of 9/6 net is included on the front jacket flap.

The rear of the jacket and rear flap contain new general fiction from Hutchinson.

Books are bound in varying colors (blue, orange, tan, grey, buff, red, etc.) with gold text, including an angled inclusion of the publisher’s name on the front lower right corner of the cover.

An absolute minimalist half-title page:

The title page includes the series name and series number, as well as the Hutchinson imprint.

The book is undated (but was published in 1947). The book was “Made and printed in Great Britain at Gainsborough Press, St. Albans, by Fisher, Knight & Co., Ltd.”