Pamphlet Poets

Simon & Schuster (New York, US)
Series dates: 1926-1928
Size: 5.5″ x 8.5″

Revised 7/10/2023

Sold for 25¢ each, Simon & Schuster’s paperback series Pamphlet Poets reached 16 titles in the three years (1926-1928) it was published. This was an early series from Simon & Schuster, who were incorporated in 1924.

An advertisement in Publishers Weekly (November 20, 1926) announces the initial six titles, along with what is called “The British Pamphlet Poets” (published by Frederick Stokes Co.). The advertisement includes instructions for ordering (a free display rack is supplied if you order 100 assorted copies).

Stokes was actually publishing selected titles from two related British paperback series published by Ernest Benn in the UK: The Augustan Books of English Poetry (Ernest Benn [1925-1932] & Stokes [1925-1927]) and The Augustan Books of Modern Poetry (Ernest Benn [1920-1935] & Stokes [1925-1927]).

The Pamphlet Poets series was intended to introduce people to poetry with short, cheap, paperbound titles. The series included an introductory essay and additional publications – what to read next – by each poet. The series got a reasonable amount of attention in contemporary periodicals. Its brief life suggests it was not particularly successful.

A list of what I believe to be a complete listing of titles in the Pamphlet Poets series:

Nathalia Crane, introduction by Hughes Mearns
H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), introduction by Hughes Mearns
Edgar Allan Poe, introduction by John Gould Fletcher
Carl Sandburg, introduction by Hughes Mearns
Walt Whitman, introduction by Louis Untermeyer
Elinor Wylie, introduction by Laurence Jordan

Conrad Aiken, introduction by Louis Untermeyer
Witter Bynner, introduction by Hughes Mearns
Emily Dickinson, introduction by Louis Untermeyer
Ralph Waldo Emerson, introduction by John Erskine
Four Negro Poets: Claude McKay; Jean Toomer; Countee Cullen; Langston Hughes, introduction by Alain Locke
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, introduction by George Roy Elliott
The New York Wits, edited by Robert A Simon
Edna St Vincent Millay, introduction by Hughes Mearns

Alfred Kreymborg, introduction by Paul Rosenfeld
Lizette Woodworth Reese, introduction by Hughes Mearns

A copy of Elinor Wylie‘s title in the series (1926) is shown below.

The front (right) and back (left) cover of series titles are common in design and do not vary over the series’ three-year run. The front cover includes the featured poet (or name of the collection), followed by the series name and publisher. A design frames the page.

The back cover (left) repeats the frame and poet and includes the Editorial Advisory Committee for the series (Hughes Means, John Erskine, Louis Untermeyer, Laurence Jordan, and Joseph Anthony). Some of these chaps wrote introductions and edited titles in the series.

Inside, the front cover (what would be endpapers) includes a series prospectus spread over two pages. A bit excessive, it seems, but characteristic of Simon & Schuster (see the Inner Sanctum Novels). Titles released are listed on the left, with forthcoming titles, along with a price (25¢) and copyright.

The right page describes the series and includes an acknowledgment to the author’s publisher (Harcourt, Brace, and Co.).

Contents face a 2-page introduction to the author and her poetry:

The introduction continued, and the first poem:

“How to Know Elinor Wylie” is a biographical essay with “Publishers and Prices” of additional Wylie titles to seek out: