Nelson’s Medieval and Renaissance Library

T. Nelson & Sons Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1959-1968
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

Barnes & Noble (New York, US)
Series dates: 1959-1962

Harper & Row (New York, US)
Series dates: 1973

Nelson’s Medieval and Renaissance Library consisted of 9 titles issued between 1959 and 1968 by Nelson in the UK, the first 7 of which were distributed in the US by Barnes & Noble. The series was edited by Geoffrey Shepherd, was scholarly in content, and undoubtedly aimed at a higher education market. At least 5, and possibly 6 titles from the series were reprinted as part of The Old and Middle English Text Series, published by The Manchester University Press in the UK and Barnes & Noble in the US in 1972-1973. At least one title, Spenser’s An Apology for Poetry was published by Harper & Row in the US in 1973. That one title retained the original series name.

The jacket design is common to the series. An earlier design, used for the first seven titles, consisted of a plain jacket with a series colophon centered on the jacket. For the last two titles, issued in 1968, the jackets were redesigned. The Testament of Cresseid by Robert Henryson, edited by Denton Fox, was issued in 1968. The jacket spine includes the author and title. The jacket front frames the title and author in a design and also includes the series name. The front jacket flap summarizes the book and includes a price of 21s net.

The back of the dust jacket provides an extended quotation from a review of the series in the Times Literary Supplement. The first seven titles in the series are listed.

Titles in the series are listed below, including the last two titles (for a total of 9 series titles). The initial 7 were co-published or distributed in the US by Barnes & Noble. I can’t find that Barnes & Noble distributed the last two titles in the US. In 1973, The Manchester University Press reissued 5 or 6 of the titles in the UK (distributed by Barnes & Noble in the US).

* **Ancren Riwle, Ancrene Wisse (parts 6 and 7). Geoffrey Shepherd, ed. 1959
*Sir David Lindsay, Squyer Meldrum. James Kinsley, ed. 1959
* **The Owl and the Nightingale. Eric Gerald Stanley, ed., 1960
*Thomas Chestre, Sir Launfal. Alan Joseph Bliss, ed., 1960
* **Geoffrey Chaucer, The Parlement of Foulys. Derek Brewer, ed., 1960
* **Geoffrey Chaucer, The Floure and the Leafe and The Assembly of Ladies. D.A. Pearsall, ed., 1962
* ** ***Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry. Geoffrey Shepherd, ed., 1965
Edmund Spenser, The Mutabilitie Cantos. Sheldon P. Zitner, ed., 1968
Robert Henryson, Testament of Cresseid. Denton Fox, ed., 1968

*Published/Distributed by Barnes & Noble in the US, 1959-1962
**Published in 1972-1973 by Barnes & Noble in the US and Manchester University Press as part of The Old and Middle English Text Series (source: “Manchester University Press.” British Literary Publishing Houses, 1881-1965. Ed. Jonathan Rose and Patricia Anderson. Vol. 112. Detroit, MI: Gale, 1991. 197-203. I Vol. 112. Web. 2 Dec. 2018).
***Published by Harper & Row in the US in 1973. I have no explanation as to why Harper & Row would publish one title from the Nelson series in 1973, except if Harper & Row was contemplating reissuing the series, discontinued by Nelson in 1968. But the Manchester University Press and Barnes & Noble reissued at least 5 and possibly 6 series titles under the Old and Middle English Text Series name in 1973, including Sydney’s An Apology for Poetry.

Bindings are black with gold typography on the spine.

The half-title page includes the series name, editor, and editorial board.

The title page.

This particular copy includes a mysterious stamp on the title page:

T 06 / 1518

This indicates that the book was sent to the British Library where it was redistributed to another library or possibly a private owner:

“Many libraries, particularly university ones, have in recent years sent surplus books and periodicals which are not obviously saleable to the British Library at Boston Spa. Those books judged to be worthy of finding another home have been placed onto the BLDSC Booknet and details of them have been circulated to other libraries who can acquire them.” (source: “Some Observations on the Sale of Books by Public Libraries” by David Alexander, Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, found here).

The copyright page. “Printed in Great Britain by Thomas Nelson (Printers) Ltd., London and Edinburgh.”