Victorian Library

Leicester University Press (Leicester, UK)
Series dates: 1969-1980
Size: varies

Humanities Press, Inc. (New York, US)
Series dates: 1969-1979
Size: varies

The Leicester University Press was established in 1957 as a scholarly press associated with the University. The creation of the Victorian Studies Centre in 1967 led to the Victorian Library series which included a range of out-of-print Victorian literature with introductions and commentary by literary experts. The series was distributed in the US by the Humanities Press.

The Humanities Press was established by Simon Silverman and Haskell Gruberger in 1949 as a reprint publisher. Silverman bought out Gruberger in 1950, and the firm became The Humanities Press, Inc. “This press, which assumed its present designation on May 1, 1950— formerly it was The Humanities Press (founded June 1949)—specializes in out-of-print scholarly works for which there is a 500-1000 copy demand, not enough to warrant new editions.” (Publishers Weekly, 1950). In 1951 Humanities Press began distributing titles in the US for UK firms including Allen & Unwin, Routledge & Kegan Paul, and Faber & Faber. They also began publishing more new titles, focusing on literary criticism, philosophy, history, and other humanities books. The firm was sold to Prometheus Books in 1989.

Lionel Madden, secretary of the editorial committee for the Victorian Library, authored an article entitled “Reprinting Victorian Texts” (Victorian Studies, Vol. 13, No. 4, June 1970, pp. 381-384) in which the process behind creating the series is described:

Since 1968 the planning of the series has been directed by an editorial committee which cooperates with the Press Secretary in devising a list of titles for recommendation to the Board of the University Press. During 1968 and 1969 an extensive list of titles was compiled and vetted and a programme was evolved which would ensure a regular flow of publications to the end of 1971. At its future meetings, the editorial committee will recommend further titles for publication beyond that date.

The declared aim of the series is to reprint classics of the Victorian period in a wide variety of fields of interest. The term “classics” is, of course, open to many differing interpretations. Nevertheless, the declaration indicates the committee’s intention of directing its attention to works which have a continuing significance for modern students of the period. Recommendations of titles for consideration are received from specialists both inside and outside the university. These are scrutinized by the committee and, where necessary, further advice about their value is sought from other scholars.

The selection of titles to be reprinted is based primarily on their significance for scholars of the Victorian period. From the inception of the project, it was hoped to publish the volumes at prices within the reach of the individual purchaser. To achieve this it is necessary to undertake fairly sizeable print runs, which in turn requires the selection of titles for which a reasonably large demand is likely. In the planning and distribution of the series, the University Press has been helped by an arrangement with Humanities Press, New York, who undertake distribution in the United States and Canada. In general, it is not the committee’s intention to reprint works which are readily available in the second-hand market or which have already been reprinted or announced by other publishers. A careful check is therefore made against current bibliographies of new and forthcoming books and, so far as possible, against the lists of second-hand booksellers.

Victorian Library titles were mostly reprinted from original editions using photographic plates. Thus the size of each book varies, as does the price. The original plan was to issue six titles each year. This happened the first year of the series, but the numbers fell after that. In 1974 two of the three titles issued were not published in the US, in 1975 the one title issued was not published in the US, and no titles were issued in 1976. Four more titles appear between 1977 and 1980, two of which were also published in the US. See below for a list of the titles. In all, Leicester University Press issued the entire run of 28 titles, and the Humanities Press issued 22 of those titles, plus one of their own (not published in the UK), for a total of 23 titles. Titles include:

*Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, by Robert Chambers ($7.50)
*Autobiography and Deliverance, by Mark Rutherford ($6.00)
*Contrasts, by A.W.N. Pugin ($6.75)
*The Medical and Legal Aspects of Sanitary Reform, by A.P. Stewart and E. Jenkins ($5.00)
*A Discourse on the Studies of the University, by Alan Sedgwick ($5.00)
*Chartism, by William Lovett ($5.00)

*The Bitter Cry of Outcast London, by Andrew Mearns ($7.25)
*A History of the Gothic Revival, by C.L. Eastlake ($16.50)
*Phases of Faith, by F.W. Newman ($5.25)
*Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in Switzerland, 1838 ($7.50)

*Midlothian Speeches, 1879, by W.E. Gladstone ($7.50)
*Twice Round the Clock, by George Augustus Sala ($10.50)
*The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland, by John Bateman ($10.50)
*Movements of Religious Thought in Britain During the Nineteenth Century, by John Tulloch
*The Life of Thomas Cooper, by Thomas Cooper
**The Preromantic Imagination of L.S. Mercier, by Henry F. Majewski

*Town Swamps and Social Bridges, by George Godwin
*School Architecture, by E.R. Robson

*Collins’ Illustrated Atlas of London
*Oakfield, or, Fellowship in the East, by W.D. Arnold

Clergymen of the Church of England, by Anthony Trollope
*Autobiography and letters of Mrs. Margaret Oliphant, by Mrs. Oliphant
The Journal of a London Playgoer, by Henry Morley

The New Republic: Culture, Faith, and Philosophy in an English Country House, by W.H. Mallock

*Children of the Ghetto: A Study of a Peculiar People, by Israel Zangwill

*The Ideal City, by Helen Elizabeth Meller
Images of Race, by Michael Denis Biddiss

Educating our Masters: Addresses and Essays, by George Combe

*Copies issued by Humanities Press in the US
**Issued only by Humanities Press in the US

Victorian Library titles share a common jacket style, conservative in design, that was used on most of its titles published over the decade of its existence. The orange color is distinctive, and both the jacket front and spine include fussy apertures within which the book, author, and author of the introduction are included. The Victorian Library colophon is used on the spine and front, and the series name and publisher (in this case, Humanities Press) are included on the front of the jacket. The front jacket flap includes a summary of the title and the Humanities Press imprint.

The back of the jacket includes a list of titles and prices. A prospectus for the series is included on the rear jacket flap.

The book cover is a cyan colored plasticised material in a sturdy binding. The title is on the spine and the Victorian Library colophon on the spine and book front.

This particular copy is a review copy, with a glued-in Humanities Press review sheet. The sheet includes the publication date (June 1972) and price ($11.00 in cloth).

The half title page with the Victorian Library colophon and book title.

The series name and colophon face the title page. The date (here, 1971) is beneath the publisher’s imprint. The imprint is both Humanities Press and Leicester University Press.

The first page of text: