Standard Authors Library

Allen & Unwin (London, UK)
Series dates: 1886-1959
Size: 8.75″ x 6″

Allen & Unwin’s Standard Authors Library might hold the record for the longest-running mini-series, with a measly 9 (and maybe 11) titles issued between 1886 and 1959. The series goes unadvertised (as far as I can find) and listed only infrequently in contemporary sources (in lists of books in print).

The titles are longish, sometimes multi-volume non-fiction titles with lasting interest. Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico and History of the Conquest of Peru were the initial two titles issued (in 1886) and the last reprinted (in 1959). The list of titles below includes the initial year of printing, and subsequent printings (the latter probably not complete). Two titles appear in a list of series titles in 1924 (noted below). One does not seem to have been published, and the other seems to be a book from a different publisher with an Allan & Unwin imprint over the original publisher imprint.

History of the Conquest of Mexico, William H. Prescott: 1886, 1949, 1959
History of the Conquest of Peru, William H. Prescott: 1886, 1935, 1959
*The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, Gilbert White: 1920
Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys (4 vols.), Samuel Pepys: 1924
The Life of Samuel Johnson (3 vols.): 1924
**History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, William H. Prescott: ?
The Letters of Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield (3 vols.): 1926
The Memoirs of the Duke of Saint-Simon (3 vols.): 1926
Memoirs of the Count de Grammont: 1926
Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (3 vols.), Thomas Percy: 1927
Rise of the Dutch Republic (2 vols.), John Lothrop Motley: 1929

*In a list of series titles in 1924 (in the back of The World of the Incas, by Otfried von Hanstein, 1924). One Spanish dealer entry on indicates a 1920 copy published by Swan Sonnenschein & Co., London with a tipped-in page with the Allen & Unwin imprint, placed over the original publisher imprint.
**In a list of series titles in 1924 (in the back of The World of the Incas, by Otfried von Hanstein, 1924), but no evidence this title was published. There is a 1962 edition, but no indication it was part of the Standard Authors Library.

Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Peru is one of the first and last titles printed in the series. This 1959 copy has a bland common jacket design. The title and publisher are indicated on the jacket spine. The series name is included on the bottom of the front of the jacket. A note on the front jacket flap indicates that additional titles in the series are indicated on the back of the jacket. A price of 25s is also on the front jacket flap.

Three titles are listed in the series as of 1959, including Prescott’s Peru, Mexico, Motley’s Dutch Republic, and Pepys Diary. There are no copies of the Motley and Pepys titles, besides those issued in 1929 and 1924 (respectively) in WorldCat. Another title, a translation, is listed on the jacket: Descola’s The Conquistadors. This title does not seem to be in the series. Nor is there a copy on WorldCat.

Solid blue cloth bindings with gold typography and a series colophon debossed on the front cover:

The half-title page with the series name:

The three titles (besides Peru) in the series as of 1959 are listed and face the title page. “New Revised Edition Edited by John Foster Kirk” is indicated above the imprint. This “new revised edition” seems to have been the one first published in the series in 1886.

If the copyright page is to be believed, there were 21 printings of this title before this 1959 edition. If so, many of these don’t show up in WorldCat. “Printed in Great Britain at the University Press, Aberdeen”

An Allen & Unwin colophon on the next to last page in the book is followed by the firm’s international offices.

Two Allen & Unwin titles not in the series are advertised on the last page of the book, as is Prescott’s Mexico.