John O’London’s Library

George Newnes Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1934-1938
Size: 5″ x 7″

George Newnes’ career in publishing began with his periodical Tit-Bits, funded by the profits from the sale (around 1881) of his popular vegetarian restaurant in Manchester. The Strand Magazine, which first published the Sherlock Holmes stories, was also a Newnes publication. George Newnes Ltd. continues as an imprint of Elsevier.

The John O’London name was used by Newnes for different publications: John O’London’s Home Library (published under Newnes’ imprint the Home Library Book Company) was published from about 1900 to the early 1920s. In 1919 Newnes initiated the literary magazine John O’London’s Weekly (published until 1954). John O’London’s Little Books were published from about 1924 to 1932 and were very similar to the titles in John O’London’s Library: collections, anecdotes, and other miscellaneous reading.


John O’London’s Library was published from 1934 to 1939 and may have been named after a column of the same name from the John O’London periodical. The series included a variety of literary non-fiction, collections, and anthologies. The series was advertised, in 1934, as “An entirely new series designed to appeal to the “popular literary” market.” The books were mostly new publications and not reprints.


The jacket front on this undated (but probably 1934, as it is the first book listed in the series titles on the back of the jacket) edition of Grant Uden’s Strange Reading reveals the common design of the jackets for the series. The series name is indicated along the top of the front of the jacket. The common illustration consists of an open window (looking out over London?) with surrounding bookshelves. A building silhouette, part of the front jacket illustration, is repeated on the spine as a series logo, along with the 2s. price. The front flap advertises other Newnes titles.


A list of titles in the series includes eight books, all with brief descriptions. The price is once again indicated below the catalog of titles. An advertisement for another Newnes title fills the rear jacket flap.


A simple but solid cloth binding reproduces the silhouette from the spine of the jacket on the book spine.


A simple half-title page:


The title page again reproduces the series graphic of the building silhouette.


The copyright page includes a Caxton quote and printer information, but no date.