Stratford Library

Hutchinson & Co. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1955-1957
Size: 5.25″ x 7.5″

According to the Dublin Magazine (1957, p. 51) “The Stratford Library series of biographies is designed, not for specialists, but for intelligent adults who have a keen curiosity about the lives and accomplishments of notable people.” Thus, a series of relatively brief popular biographies. The titles seem to be all new books, first published in the series, the general editor being Frank Swinnerton.

The first two books in the series appeared on April 4, 1955, biographies of Hans Christian Anderson and Alexandre Dumas, according to an announcement in British Books, Volume 168, p. 411. A front-page advertisement in the Times Literary Supplement appeared Friday, March 25, 1955 (p. 173). Many of the new titles were advertised in a similar manner, as they were issued through the next two years, the last in 1957. The series ended, in 1957, with 10 titles.

The Stratford Library name does not seem to have been used prior to Hutchinson’s 1950s series. The series name was reused by a firm called Publisher’s Consultants (Chatsworth, CA) between 1974 and 1977 for a series of books with titles such as Ranch Hand’s Easy Lay, Academy of Nude Wrestling, Young, Hot and Willing, and Depraved Nudist Camp. This later Stratford Library seems to have had a different focus than Hutchinson’s series.

This copy of Albert Guerard’s Napoleon I is dated 1957. It’s the 10th and last title published in the series.

Jackets are common to the series, varying in color. Jacket spines include the author (on the jacket below, where the spine is damaged), title and publisher. The simple design of the jacket front includes a leafy wreath with the author, title, and series name. The front jacket flap blurbs the book, which continues on the back jacket flap. The price of 12s/6d net is also on the front book flap.

The back jacket flap continues the blurb about the book from the front of the jacket. “Printed in Great Britain” is included at the base of the rear flap. The back of the jacket lists titles in the series, as well as a quote from the series editor, Frank Swinnerton. This list includes all the titles published in the series, excluding this title. The titles are arranged by price, which corresponds to the year issued (1955: 8s/6d; 1956: 10s/6d; 1957: 12s/6d). Book publishing costs were obviously rising in the mid-1950s. The Hutchinson colophon is at the bottom of the jacket back.

The 10 titles in the series, organized by price and year:

Each 8s/6d net: 1955 titles

Alexandre Dumas, by Andre Maurois (1955)
Hans Christian Anderson, by Rumer Godden (1955)
Julius Caesar, by Alfred Duggan (1955)
Elizabeth I, by Donald Barr Chidsey (1955)

Each 19s/6d net: 1956 titles

Sir Christopher Wren, by Blomey Bolton (1956)
Joseph Lister, by Kenneth Walker (1956)

Each 12s/6d net: 1957 titles

Charles Darwin, by Ruth Moore (1957)
*Garibaldi, by Denis Mack Smith (1957)
Henry Ford, by Roger Burlingame (1957)
Napoleon I, by Albert Guerard (1957)

*Italian translation published in 1970 by Editori Laterza, Roma-Bari, Italy

The reverse front flap of this particular title has a stamp with a space for a price, then “p.” Then: “I promise to give HALF BACK if returned in same condition.” Trevor Whelan, Cranleigh 4148.” I’m assuming this is some kind of used bookstore or trading library, in Cranleigh, UK (south of London). Two dates (2 May 1980 and -4 Aug 1980 in red and black ink) suggesting, maybe, that the book was stocked on May 2 and sold on Aug. 4 for 50p.

The bindings are grey cloth with red blocks overprinted with text in gold on the spine. The series name is included on the book spine.

The half-title page:

A portrait of Napoleon faces the title page, which includes the series name. The title (and subject) of the book is printed in red.

The copyright page includes the Hutchinson imprint, “First Published in 1957.” A note also states: “Printed in ten point Caledonia one point leaded and printed in Great Britain by Taylor Garnett Evans & Co. Ltd., Watford, Hertfordshire.”