Roadmaker Series

Leonard Parsons (London, UK)
Series dates: 1924-1926
Size: 5.25″ x 7.5″

Small, Maynard & Co. (Boston, USA)
Series dates: 1924-1926
Size:  5.25″ x 7.5″

From the rear of the jacket of Sir Edwin Chadwick, by Maurice Marston, #18 (the final volume) in the Roadmaker Series:

The road along which humanity has travelled has been made by men of thought as well as men of action, by idealists and dreamers as well as by discoverers and scientists, by men and women who have suffered as well as by those who have triumphed. A roadmaker, therefore, may be a scholar or sculptor, a preacher or a poetess, a rebel, a reformer, or a king. The aim of The Roadmaker Series is to encourage interest in those British men and women whose lives and achievements have widened human knowledge, eased human ills, added to human resources and means of self-expression and strengthened the foundations of civilized society.

“An attractive series.” –The Times.
“This excellent series.” –Graphic.
“Excellent biography.” “-John o’ London’s Weekly.
“A delightful new series.” –T.P.’s and Cassell’s Weekly.
“The series is one to be bought by all lovers of books and men.” –Weekly Westminster.
“The sensible person will take them as they come and get from all both pleasure and profit.” –Daily News.

The Times Literary Supplement (London, England), Thursday, September 18, 1924; pg. 578; Issue 1183

The Roadmaker Series consisted of 18 announced and 16 published biographies, all, apparently, first editions in the series. Leonard Parsons published the series in the UK and Small, Maynard & Co. in the US. The first six titles were issued in 1924, nine titles in 1925, and one title in 1926; sixteen titles in total. Two additional titles were announced, but not published: #9 Captain James Cook, by M. Storm Jameson (never published) and #17 William Byrd, by Frank Howes (eventually published by a different publisher in 1928, and not in the Roadmaker Series).

An advertisement (left) dated September 18, 1924 (from the Times Literary Supplement) announces the new series and includes prices (4/6, or via the mail, 4/10) and the first six titles. A prospectus for the series can be sent upon request.









Jackets for the series are common to each title. This copy of Maurice Marston’s Sir Edwin Chadwick is dated 1925. The jacket spine includes the subject of the biography, author, price (in this case, 4/6 net) and the series name at the base of the jacket spine. The common illustrated jacket front includes a decorative border integrating the series name followed by the title, author, an illustrative series colophon, and the publisher information. It is signed by book-illustrator John Austen. On UK copies both Leonard Parsons and Small, Maynard & Co. are indicated. On the US (Small, Maynard & Co.) copies only Small, Maynard is noted on the jacket front. The front jacket flap lists “Volumes already issued” and volumes “Ready shortly.”

The rear jacket flap lists “Volumes in preparation.” The back of the jacket (text included at the start of this entry) blurbs the series and includes quotes from reviews.

Titles in the series were issued between 1924 and 1926. As noted above, two titles were not published as part of the series, one of which was published later (1928) by a different publisher. Thus 18 announced titles, and 16 published titles comprise the series:

#1: Lord Lister, by Cuthbert Dukes (1924)
#2: Samuel Butler, by C.E.M. Joad (1924)
#3: Queen Elizabeth, by Gwen John (1924)
#4: William Harvey, by R.B. Hervey (1924)
#5: Mary Wollstonecraft, by Madeline Linford (1924; reprinted by Folcroft Library Editions [1973], Norwood Editions [1977])
#6: Michael Faraday, by Wilfrid L. Randell (1924)
*#7: William Caxton, by H.R. Plomer (1925; reprinted by Thoemmes [1996])
*#8: Oliver Cromwell, by Andrew Dakers (1925)
**#9: Captain James Cook, M. Storm Jameson (never published)
**#10: Sir Thomas Gresham, F.R. Salter (1925)
*#11: James Watt, T.H. Marshall (1925)
**#12: Richard Martin, by Wellesley Pain (1925)
**#13: Sir Thomas More, G.R. Potter (1925)
*#14: Thomas Paine, by F. J. Gould (1925)
**#15: Thomas Carlyle, Mary Agnes Hamilton (1926)
*#16: Francis Bacon, by I. Levine (1925)
**#17: William Byrd, Frank Howes (not included in series, but published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co., in the UK and Dutton in the US in 1928)
*#18: Sir Edwin Chadwick, by Maurice Marston (1925)

* ready shortly (on Sir Edwin Chadwick title)
** in preparation (on Sir Edwin Chadwick title)

The books are bound in black, blue, red and green cloth. This one, in black, includes the subject, author and series name on the spine. The front of the book is blank. Tape marks from an old-school dust jacket protector are evident.

The half title page includes the book title and a small graphic element.

A list of the 18 announced titles in the series faces the title page, which is similar to but not the same as the front of the jacket. Sir Edwin Chadwick is on one, rather than two, lines and Chadwick’s dates (1800-1890) are included.

The copyright page indicates “First Published in 1925 by Leonard Parsons, Ltd., and printed in Great Britain by The Northumberland Press, Limited, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.”