Queensway Classics

Queensway Press (imprint of Readers Library Publishing Co. Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1938
Size: 7″ x 4.25″

Readers Library Publishing Co. Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1938
Size: 7″ x 4.25″

The Queensway Classics were one of several series (including the Queensway LibraryChevron Books and New Chevron Series) intended to revive the Readers Library Publishing Company, Ltd. established around 1924 by Derwent Hall Caine and Gordon “Ralph” Hall Caine (sons of author Hall Caine) to issue the Readers Library series. The Readers Library was very successful, publishing millions of cheap, hardcover reprints in the late 1920s and early 1930s before falling on hard times in the mid-1930s. See the Readers Library entry for more information on that series.

Of the “revival” series, the Queensway Classics were the least expansive – consisting of only one title, a 1938 issue of Boccaccio’s Decameron, published in four paperback volumes (with a Readers Library Publishing Co. imprint) and one omnibus hardcover volume (including all four of the paperback volumes, with a Queensway Press imprint).

The first of the “revival” series, the hardcover Queensway Library, published as bland hardcovers in 1934 and 1935, started with classics, but then shifted to contemporary low-brow fiction. This series ceased after 14 titles. An oddly designed, squat paperback series, the Chevron Books, was issued starting in 1936, consisting of contemporary fiction and non-fiction. That series was repackaged as the New Chevron Series a year later, with a design and format that more closely resembled the booming Penguin Books. The Queensway Classics were the last of the “revival” series, probably an idea to float a series of classics as a complement to the contemporary titles in the New Chevron Series. That idea must have fallen flat, as no additional titles (beyond the Decameron) were issued. WorldCat does indicate 1944 editions of all four volumes of The Decameron in the Queensway Classics, but I’ve not seen copies of this later reprint anywhere besides WorldCat.

The front jacket and cover “Oxford cross” design for the four paperbound volumes of The Decameron in the Queensway Classics are remarkably similar to the jacket and cover redesign of the Tauchnitz Edition first issued in 1935 (and used until 1938). The jacket spine includes the book title and volume number, with the price (6d. net) and volume number (C1). The jacket front includes the series name, title, author, Queensway colophon, publisher address, and price. The front jacket flap blurbs the title. The first volume jacket (and book) is printed in orange.

The back of the jacket repeats the series name and provides a short biography of Boccaccio. The rear jacket flap lists titles #31 through #46 in the New Chevron Series (incorrectly named “Library”). Title #46 was published in 1938. The Queensway Classics are also listed, but only the first volume of four. Thus the first volume (of four) was issued before the other three volumes (see below).

The paper covers of The Decameron repeat the jacket design, minus the price (included on the spine and front of the book above).

The books have no front free endpaper prior to the half-title page.

The title page of the book notes the four volumes for this title, volume number, and includes the series name and Readers Library imprint. There is no year of publication in or on any of the Queensway Classics books shown here.

“Printed in Great Britain” faces the Foreword. The Foreword mentions the Queensway Classics series.

The Foreward continued. “Printed by Greycaine Limited, Watford and London, and Published by the Readers Library Publishing Co. Ltd, 10 Great Queen St., London, W.C.2”

The second and third volumes of The Decameron are similar to the first volume with a few exceptions on the jackets, where the price is omitted and the rear jacket flap has a revised list of titles in the New Chevron Series (incorrectly named “Library”), including up to #49 (published in 1938). This list has three more volumes than were included on the jacket list for the first volume. In addition, all four volumes of The Decameron are listed as available. Volume 2 (jacket and book cover) is printed in blue.

The jacket for volume 3 varies only in color (in this case, green) from volume 2. I don’t have a copy of volume 4, which I believe is printed in pink.

Text blocks for the four paperbound volumes of Boccaccio’s Decameron in the Queensway Classics series were bound as a single volume by the Queensway Press / Readers Library Publishing Co. WorldCat includes a few libraries with this omnibus edition, all dated 1938, although there is no year in the book itself. It is possible that this hardbound series title was bound later, from unsold (unbound) sheets for the paperback volumes.

The jackets for the hardbound copy of The Decameron is printed on patterned, orange kraft paper with a different design than the paperback version of the Queensway Classics. The simple design includes the Queensway colophon and name on the spine, but no indication the book is part of the Queensway Classics series. A price of 2/6 is printed on the front jacket flap.

The back of the jacket and rear jacket flap is blank.

the book itself, bound in red, with printed text and designs that mimic the dust jacket.

The half-title page with no FFEP.

The title page is different from the title pages on the paperback volumes.

For the rest of the tome, the text seems to be exactly the same as the text included in the four paperback volumes, including the pagination (which starts over with each of the four bound-together volumes). The Foreword indicates this is part of the Queensway Classics series.

Printing information is the same as in the paperback volumes.