Thinker’s Library

Watts & Company (London, UK)
Series dates: 1929-1951; New Thinker’s Library (1962-1971)
Size: 4.25″ x 6.5″ (1929-1951)


Watts & Co. was a radical publishing house founded in 1864 in London by Charles Watts senior. His son Charles Albert Watts was a secularist literary publisher and founder of the New Humanist magazine and Rationalist Press Association. He ran the press after 1883 and began to publish cheap editions of writers such as Darwin, Huxley, and Mill. This effort evolved into the Thinker’s Library, which was published between 1929 and 1951 and reached 140 titles. See a full list at the end of this entry. The series was revived, in 1962, as the New Thinker’s Library.

An advertisement in the February 26, 1929, issue of the Times (London) announced the series. Notice the availability of a “Literary Guide” to the series (which may have been Watt’s Literary Guide and  Rationalist Review periodical)

London Times, Feb. 26, 1929.

An advertisement in the Times (London) from June 9, 1933, advertises more titles added to the series.

London Times, June 9, 1933

The initial jacket design for the Thinker’s Library was common to the series, with a classically themed design using doric columns. The series name was arched across the top of the front jacket, and the book title, author, and a blurb included in the center of the jacket. The price of one shilling was also indicated on the jacket front, as well as the spine. The jacket spine includes the series name and number, #22 in this case. This copy of Llewelyn PowysThe Pathetic Fallacy: A Study of Christianity is a June 1931 first printing in the series. The book was first published in 1930. The front jacket flap includes a blurb for #19 in the series, Stephen’s An Agnostic’s Apology.

At least six more jacket designs appear through the early 1950s.


The rear of the jacket blurbs several more titles in the series.


“Clothette” bindings – a pressed paper that resembled cloth, were used by the publisher, allowing them to print a simplified variation of the dust jacket design on the book cover and spine.


The half-title page:


A catalog of titles published in the series through #23 faces the title page. The title page has the series name and number at the top.


Publication information as well as printing information on the copyright page.


A full list of titles (slightly modified from Thinker’s Library: Book Series List):

1. First and Last Things. H.G. Wells
2. Education: Intellectual, Moral and Physical. Herbert Spencer
3. The Riddle of the Universe. Ernst Haeckel
4. Humanity’s Gain from Unbelief. Charles Bradlaugh
5. On Liberty. J.S. Mill
6. A Short History of the World (revised to 1944). H.G. Wells
7. Autobiography of Charles Darwin
8. The Origin of Species. Charles Darwin
9. Twelve Years in a Monastery. Joseph McCabe
10. History of Modern Philosophy. A.W. Benn
11. Gibbon on Christianity
12. The Descent of Man. Charles Darwin
13. History of Civilisation in England (Vol 1). H.T. Buckle
14. Anthropology (Vol 1). James Harvey Robinson
15. Anthropology (Vol 2). James Harvey Robinson
16. Iphigenia. Two Plays by Euripides
17. Lectures and Essays. T.H. Huxley
18. The Evolution of the Idea of God. Grant Allen
19. The Agnostic’s Apology. Sir Leslie Stephen
20. The Churches and Modern Thought. Vivian Philips
21. Penguin Island. Anatole France.
22. The Pathetic Fallacy. Llewelyn Powys
23. Historical Trials (A Selection). Sir John Macdonell
24. A Short History of Christianity. J. M. Robertson
25. The Martyrdom of Man. Winwood Reade
26. Head-hunters: Black, White and Brown. Dr. A. C. Haddon
27. The Evidence for the Supernatural. Dr. Ivor Ll. Tuckett
28. The City of Dreadful Night, and other Poems. James Thompson (“B.V.”)
29. In the Beginning: The Origin of Civilisation. Prof Sir G. Elliot Smith
30. Adonis: A Study in the History of Oriental Religion. Sir J. G. Frazer
31. Our New Religion. H.A.L. Fisher
32. On Compromise. John Viscount Morley
33. A History of the Taxes on Knowledge. Collet Dobson Collet
34. The Existence of God. Joseph McCabe
35. The Story of the Bible. Macleod Yearsley
36. Savage Survivals. I. Howard Moore
37. The Revolt of the Angels. Anatole France
38. The Outcast. Winwood Reade
39. Penalties Upon Opinion. H. Bradlaugh Bonner
40. Oath, Curse and Blessing. Ernest Crawley
41. Fireside Science. Sir E. Ray Lankester
42. History of Anthrpology. Alfred C. Haddon.
43. The World’s Earliest Laws. Chilperic Edwards
44. Fact and Faith. J.B.S. Haldane
45. Men of the Dawn. Dorothy Davison
46. The Mind in the Making. James Harvey Robinson
47. The Expression the Emotions in Man and Animals. Charles Darwin
48. Psychology for Everyman (and Woman). A. E. Mander
49. The Religion of the Open Mind. A Gowans Whyte
50. Letters on Reasoning. J. M. Robertson
51. The Social Record of Christianity. Joseph McCabe
52. The Five Stages of Greek Religion. Gilbert Murray
53. The Life of Jesus. Ernest Renan
54. Selected Works of Voltaire
55. What Are We To Do With Our Lives? H.G. Wells
56. Do What You Will. Aldous Huxley.
57. Clearer Thinking: Logic for Everyman. A. E. Mander
58. History of Ancient Philosophy. A. W. Benn
59. Your Body: How it is Built and How it Works. Dr. D. Stark Murray
60. What is Man? Mark Twain
61. Man and His Universe. John Langton-Davies
62. First Principles. Herbert Spencer
63. Rights of Man. Thomas Paine
64. This Human Nature. Charles Duff
65. Dictionary of Scientific Terms. C.M. Beadnell
66. A Book of Good Faith. Selections from the Works of Montaigne
67. The Universe of Science. H. Levy
68. Liberty Today. C.E.M. Joad
69. The Age of Reason. Thomas Paine
70. The Fair Haven. Samuel Butler
71. A Candidate for Truth. Passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson
72. A Short History of Women. John Langton Davies
73. Natural Causes and Supernatural Seemings. Henry Maudsley
74. Morals, Manners and Men. Havelock Ellis
75. Pages from a Lawyer’s Notebooks. E.S.P. Haynes
76. An Architect of Nature. The Autobiography of Luther Burbank.
77. Act of God. P. Tennyson Jesse
78. The Man versus the State. Herbert Spencer
79. The World as I See It. Albert Einstein
80. Jocasta’s Crime. Lord Raglan
81. The Twilight of the Gods and Other Tales. Richard Garnett
82. Kingship. A.M. Hocart
83. Religion Without Revelation. Julian S. Huxley
84. Let the People Think. Bertrand Russell
85. The Myth of the Mind. Frank Kenyon
86. The Liberty of Man, Other Essays. R.G. Ingersoll
87. Man Makes Himself. V. Gordon Childe
88. World Revolution and the Future of the West. W. Friedmann
89. The Origin of the Kiss, and other Scientific Diversion. C.M. Beadnell
90. The Bible and its Background (Vol 1). Archibald Robertson
91. The Bible and its Background (Vol 2). Archibald Robertson
92. The Conquest of Time. H.G. Wells
93. The Gospel of Rationalism. C.T. Gorham
94. Life’s Unfolding. Sir Charles Sherrington
95. An Easy Outline of Astronomy. M. Davidson
96. The God of the Bible. Evans Bell
97. Man Studies Life. G.N. Ridley
98. In Search of the Real Bible. A.D. Howell Smith
99. The Outlines of Mythology. Lewis Spence
100. Magic and Religion. Sir J. G. Frazer
101. The Flight from Conflict. Lawrence Collier
102. Progress and Archaelogy. V. Gordon Childe
103. The Chemistry of Life. J.S.D. Bacon, MA
104. Medicine and Mankind. A. Sorsby
105. The Church and Social Progress. Marjorie Bowen
106. The Great Mystics. George Godwin
107. The Religion of Ancient Mexico. Lewis Spence
108. Geology and the Life of Man. Duncan Leitch
109. A Century for Freedom. Kenneth Unwin
110. Jesus: Myth or History? Archibald Robertson
111. The Ethics of Belief and Other Essays. W. K. Clifford
112. Human Nature, War and Society. Dr John Cohen
113. The Rational Good. L. T. Hobhouse
114. Man: The Verdict of Science. G. N. Ridley
115. The Distressed Mind. J.A.C. Brown
116. The Illusion of National Character. Hamilton Fyfe
117. Population, Psychology, and Peace. J.C. Flugel
118. Friar’s Lantern. G.G. Coulton
119. Ideals and Illusions. L. Susan Stebbing
120. An Outline of the Development of Science. M. Mansel Davies
121. Head and Hand in Ancient Greece. Benjamin Farrington
122. The Evolution of Society. J.A.C. Brown
123. Background to Modern Thought. C.D. Hardie
124. The Holy Heretics: The Story of the Albigensian Crusade. Edmond Holmes
125. Man His Own Master. Archibald Robertson
126. Men Without Gods. Hector Hawton
127. The Earliest Englishman. Sir Arthur Smith-Woodward
128. Astronomy for Beginners. Martin Davidson
129. The Search for Health. D. Stark Murray
130. The Mystery of Anna Berger. George Godwin
131. Wrestling Jacob. Marjorie Bowen
132. The Origins of Religion. Lord Raglan
133. The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Drama. Lord Raglan
134. The Life of John Knox. Marjorie Bowen
135. The French Revolution. Archibald Robertson
136. The Art of Thought. Graham Wallas
137. Literary Style and Music. Herbert Spencer
138. The Origin of Species. Charles Darwin
139. The Science of Heredity. J.S.D. Bacon
140. The Great Revivalists. George Godwin