People’s Library (Hodder & Stoughton)

Hodder & Stoughton (London, UK)
Series dates: 1923-1942
Size: 4.75″ x 7″

peoples_hs_logoFirst issued in 1923 as part of a post-WW1 movement in self-betterment and education, Hodder & Stoughton’s People’s Library was similar to other series issued around the same time (Cosmos LibraryHome University LibraryPeople’s Books): some commissioned and some reprint titles focused on clear succinct explanations of a range of natural science, social science and humanities topics. Like many other contemporary reprint series, the books were inexpensive, moderately well made, and small in format. The series was edited by Sidney Dark (a Daily Express editor and writer) and reached at least 15 titles. The series fades in the 1930s to a few reprints.

This copy of John Drinkwater’s edited collection Victorian Poetry is undated, but probably 1923 (given no indication of a reprint, and new titles listed on the jacket which were first issued in 1924).

Jackets are printed on heavy kraft paper and are common to the series. The series name and editor are indicated at the top of the spine, and the price of 2/6 net is also included. The Hodder & Stoughton imprint symbol is at the base of the jacket spine. The jacket fronts contain the title, author, a decorative band with H&S in the center, and a color graphic of a lovely (Greek) lamp of knowledge glued to the jacket front. The front jacket flap is blank. Later copies (at least 1929) sometimes include a unique color image glued to the front of the jacket (such as an author portrait).


The rear of the jacket lists four new titles (issued in 1924) along with the initial 11 titles issued in 1923. The number “165” is found on the lower right of the back of the jacket – probably a catalog number. All 15 titles are listed on the page facing the title page in the book itself.


The bindings are of a glossy, plasticized blue cloth with typography in black and a debossed tree symbol (the tree of knowledge) on the front of the book.


The half-title page, with the series editor name:


A list of 15 People’s Library titles faces the title page.


A “General Preface” to the series, explaining its scope and content, is found on the copyright page. Printer information is at the bottom of the page.