Queensway Library

Queensway Press (imprint of Readers Library Publishing Co. Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1934-1935
Size: 5.5″ x 8″

The Queensway Press and its Queensway Library series, established in 1934, was an attempt to transform and revive the remains of 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. Books were manufactured by the Greycaine Book Manufacturing Company founded by Ralph Caine and Frank Grey in 1908 or 1909. The Greycaine Co., (controlled by the Caine brothers and Frank Gray) provided most of the capital for the Reader’s Library. In essence, The Readers Library series was a way to generate work for the book printing firm.

The Readers Library books were hardcover, but very cheap and made of low-grade paper and other materials. Millions of copies were sold. The series had often lurid, full color, wrap-around illustrations on the jackets, which made them alluring and attractive to buyers. When Allen Lane (who started Penguin Books) contacted Woolworths about stocking Penguin Books, Woolworth’s buyer said that “Readers Library is a better value. (“The Penguin Story: Sir Allen Lane’s 50 years,” The Times (London), 22 April 1969).

Alas, the Readers Library series was greatly diminished by the mid-1930s.

In 1934 the Queensway Press imprint was established in London, at 10 Great Queen St., close to the addresses used by the Readers Library Publishing Co. The Queensway Press issued hardcover and paperback reprints in 1934 using series names the Queensway Library and Queensway Classics (the latter only included Boccaccio’s The Decameron in four paperback volumes). A few other (non-series) books were also issued but the firm’s focus shifted to the paperback Chevron Books in 1936. That series was redesigned and continued as the New Chevron Series beginning in 1937. The firm was bankrupt by 1938 and acquired by Hutchinson, who continued to publish using the Queensway and Chevron imprints until the 1950s.

The Queensway Library was a hardcover series of light fiction, mysteries, adventure and romance novels by mostly forgettable authors. All titles were issued in 1934 except for one in 1935, as far as I’ve been able to determine, with 14 titles issued in all. Years of initial publication (with a few reprints) are listed below:

The Vicar of Wakefield, by Oliver Goldsmith (1934)
Silas Marner, by George Eliot (1934)
Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (1934)
I Was a Spy!, by Marthe McKenna (1934, 1939)
Grand Hotel, by Vicki Baum (1934, 1942)
The Passionate Flight, by Martha Ostenso (1934)
The Sign of the Cross, by Wilson Barrett (1934)
Only a Girl’s Love, by Charles Garvice (1934)
In Exchange for Love, by Charles Garvice (1934)
The Riddle of the Forest, by Basil Tozer (1934)
The Diamonds, by J.W. Fletcher (1934)

*Nell Gwyn, by Ladbroke Lionel Day Black (1934)
*Anna Lombard, by Victoria Cross (1934)
*The Count of Monte-Cristo (2 parts bound as 1), by Alexandre Dumas (1935)

*Not included on the list of titles in the copy of Anna Lombard, shown below

Jackets for the series are printed on tan kraft paper and of a surprisingly bland design (given the jacket designs of Readers Library books). The spine may have included the series name, which is also the imprint of the books in this series (Queensway Library, not Queensway Press). The front of the jacket has a few antiquated graphic elements and the book title and author. A blurb from a review of the book is also included. “Queensway” is printed below the quote. The front jacket flap is blank.

The rear of the jacket includes an extended blurb from a review of the book. The rear jacket flap is also blank.

Cheap cloth bindings in red with gold stamping include only the title and author on the book spine.

The front endpaper is dated 1935 by the original owner. This title was among the last two issued in 1934 and was possibly sold in 1935. The half-title page faces the front endpaper, typically a sign of a cheap book.

A list of the initial 11 titles in the series faces the title page. Three more titles would be added for a total of 14 titles.

“Printed and bound in Great Britain by the Greycaine Book Manufacturing Company Limited, Watford.”