Harper Perennial Classics

Harper & Row (New York, US)
Series dates: 1965-1968
Size: 4.5″ x 7.25″


Harper Perennial Classics followed the much longer running Harper Modern Classics series, both series overlapping in the 1965-1968 era. Most titles have a 1965 or 1966 copyright. None of the copies I have indicate a first or subsequent printing, thus it is not fully clear how many times (if at all) titles were reprinted. Nor is it clear how long the series was offered for sale. One copy does have a different jacket back and might be a reprint of the original Perennial Classic printing.

See Harper’s Perennial Library, 1964-1990, by Peter Coveney for information on a related paperback series.

The Perennial Classics seems to have incorporated at least some titles from Harpers Modern Classics with newly designed books and jackets. The books and jackets vary little in design, save for the illustration on the jacket (and sometimes its background color). The serial numbering of the books goes up to at least 88 titles, with another seemingly numbered 101. It is not, however, clear if all the series numbers were used (eg., planned books ended up not being published). A full list of titles (with some missing titles) is below.

The titles are numbered with a 4 digit code. All the copies in my possession begin with “60” (which probably indicates hardcover). The second pair of numbers is the series number. The copy of Dickens’ Great Expectations (copyright 1965) below is #6002, so second title in the series. The letter after the serial number indicates book price. The prices seem to vary by the number of pages in the book (longer book, higher price) thus materials costs were the primary costs of these titles).

V: $1.50
K: $1.75
L: $1.95
M: $2.25
N: $2.45

Each jacket has a unique design and the illustrator is often indicated on the rear jacket flap. A mod collection of contemporary illustrators and artists were commissioned to illustrate the jackets for each title in the series. Jackets I have (and illustrators) can be found below. The series number and price code are at the top of the jacket spine, also at the top of the front of the jacket with the series name. The series name is repeated on the front jacket flap along with the price and an overview of the title. That overview sometimes runs onto the rear jacket flap.


The back of the jacket typically has a grey, rounded rectangle with the Harpers colophon. The back jacket describes the series, “the world’s greatest literature in permanent hardbound editions at the lowest price possible.” The blurb also indicates that most titles have an introduction, bibliography, biography and sometimes an afterword. Some of these are recycled from the earlier Harper Modern Classics series.

The jacket illustrator, in this case, Bob Pepper, is noted on the rear jacket flap.


Bindings are dark blue cloth with gold text. The series name is indicated on the front of the book.


Endpapers are heavy blue paper. Basic half-title page:


The title page includes the series name.


The copyright page typically indicates a 1965 or 1966 copyright for the introduction or bibliography. Earlier copyrights are typically indicated: these may have been introductions or other materials for earlier Harper’s Modern Classics titles, or from other publications of the books.


A few jackets (of the 33 books in the series I own) differ from the norm.

A copy of Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh (#6030) with a 1965 date may be a later printing, but this is only a guess. The rear of the jacket is used instead of the rounded grey rectangle and logo with a squared off rectangle and much larger Harper torch logo. In addition, instead of “Harper & Row” on the jacket spine, this copy indicates, somewhat oddly, “Harper Perennial Library.” This series name was used on a later, paperback series by Harper. “Harper Perennial Classic” is indicated on the jacket front and both flaps. The jacket illustrator for this title is John Trotta.


Some titles swap the white background for color. The Great Short Works of Joseph Conrad (#6039) is dated 1966. The price code (K) indicates $1.75 but a $1.95 sticker covers the original price.


Great Short Works of Jack London (#6041, 1965) has a green background on the jacket cover. Both the Conrad and London jackets were illustrated by Leonard Baskin.


Harpers Perennial Classics Dust Jackets

#6003: Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1965)
Jacket illustration: Larry Lurin


#6008: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables (1965)
Jacket illustration: Mozelle Thompson


#6010: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (1965)
Jacket illustration: George Esguerra


#6011: Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1965)
Jacket illustration: Paul Laune


#6012: Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (1965)
Jacket illustration: Tom Allen


#6014: Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1965)
Jacket illustration: Ellen Raskin


#6015: Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (1965)
Jacket illustration: Ellen Raskin


#6018: Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1965)
Jacket illustration: Cliff Condak


#6021: Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield & She Stoops to Conquer (1965)
Jacket illustration: Bob Pepper


#6023: Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1965)
Jacket illustration: Tony Kokinos


#6026: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1965)
Jacket illustration: Jim Spanfeller


#6027: Owen Wister, The Virginian (1965)
Jacket illustration: Jules Maidoff


#6031: Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper (1965)
Jacket illustration: Larry Lurin


#6035: George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1965)
Jacket illustration: Milton Glaser


#6037: Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1965)
Jacket illustration: Jim Spanfeller


#6043: Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson (1965)
Jacket illustration: Saul Lambert


#6044: Howard Pyle, Men of Iron (1965)
Jacket illustration: Not indicated


#6045: Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and The Chimes (1965)
Jacket illustration: Alan Cober


#6046: Aldous Huxley, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1965)
Jacket illustration: Seymour Chwast


#6051: Mark Twain, The Autobiography of Mark Twain (not dated)
Jacket illustration: Alan Cober


#6052: Thomas Bulfinch, The Age of Fable (1966)
Jacket illustration: Charles Mikolaycak


#6053: Johann Wyss, The Swiss Family Robinson (1966)
Jacket illustration: Chuck Liese


#6057: William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1965)
Jacket illustration: Karl Stucklen


#6058: Hamlin Garland, Main-Travelled Roads (no date)
Jacket illustration: Alan Cober


#6059: Hamlin Garland, Main-Travelled Roads (1966)
Jacket illustration: Seymour Chwast


#6061: Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1966)
Jacket illustration: Alan Cober


#6064: Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native (1966)
Jacket illustration: Alex Tsao


#6065: Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge (1966)
Jacket illustration: Milton Charles


#6070: O.E. Rolvaag, Peder Victorius (1966)
Jacket illustration: Milton Charles


Series Number & Titles in the Series (some titles missing, not sure all the series numbers were used). I borrowed the list below from “For Love of Books: Harper Perennial Classics” and updated it with my own information:

#6001: Silas Marner (thanks to Paul Wagner)
#6002: Great Expectations
#6003: A Tale of Two Cities
#6004: The Scarlet Letter
#6005: Pride and Prejudice
#6006: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
#6007: Joseph Andrews
#6008: The House of Seven Gables
#6009: Ivanhoe
#6010: Jane Eyre
#6011: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
#6012: Treasure Island
#6013: Kidnapped
#6014: Walden and Civil Disobedience
#6015: Wuthering Heights
#6016: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
#6018: Gulliver’s Travels
#6019: Great Short Works by Henry Van Dyke
#6020: Oliver Twist
#6021: The Vicar of Wakefield
#6022: Lord Jim
#6023: Robinson Crusoe
#6024: Two Years Before the Mast
#6025: Hard Times
#6026: Uncle Tom’s Cabin
#6027: The Virginian
#6028: The Last of the Mohicans
#6029: The Moonstone
#6030: The Way of All Flesh
#6031: The Prince and the Pauper
#6032: Great Short Stories of Stephen Crane
#6033: Sister Carrie
#6034: Moll Flanders (thanks to Paul Wagner)
#6035: The Mill on the Floss
#6037: Life on the Mississippi
#6039: Great Short Works of Conrad
#6040: Great Short Works of Henry James
#6041: Great Short Works of Jack London
#6042: The Picture of Dorian Gray
#6043: Pudd’nhead Wilson
#6044: Men of Iron
#6045: A Christmas Carol
#6046: After Many a Summer Dies the Swan
#6047: Giants in the Earth
#6048: Point Counter Point
#6050: Time Must Have a Stop
#6051: The Autobiography of Mark Twain
#6052: The Age of Fable
#6053: The Swiss Family Robinson
#6054: Sense and Sensibility
#6055: Native Son
#6056: Black Boy (thanks to Paul Wagner)
#6057: The Rise of Silas Lapham
#6058: Main Traveled Roads
#6059: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
#6061: Moby Dick
#6062: Jude the Obscure
#6064: The Return of the Native
#6065: The Mayor of Casterbridge
#6070: Peder Victorious
#6071: Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy
#6074: Great Short Works by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#6077: Three Novels by Henry James
#6080: Great Short Works of the American Renaissance
#6081: Great Short Works by Fyodor Dostoevsky
#6082: Great European Short Novels
#6084: Great Short Works of American Realism
#6087: Cane
#6088: Great Short Works of Aldous Huxley
#6101: Brave New World & Brave New World Revisited