Victory Books

Victor Gollancz Ltd. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1940-1949
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

The Victory Books series was a WW2-era collection of new, propaganda-esque titles quickly written as the UK entered the war. Fourteen numbered titles were planned, with twelve titles published in total, in 1940-1941. The first title, Guilty Men, was a left-wing pro-military political polemic against Prime Minister Chamberlain, Edward Wood (Earl of Halifax) and others who put in place the “appeasement” policy with the Nazis. Some bookstores would not carry the book, but copies were available at newsstands and other less conventional outlets, and more than 220,000 copies were sold. The book and series (with its similar polemical titles) …”made secure Victor’s position as the most hated and most admired publisher in England.” (Victor Gollancz: A Biography, By Ruth Dudley Edwards).

Titles were published in 1940 and 1941. A few reprints appear through 1949. The books were not necessarily published in the order of their series numbers (suggesting the series number and title were established before the books were ready to publish). A few titles were not published and replaced by other titles. One series number (#13) seems not to have been announced or used. Titles in the series are below:

#1: Guilty Men, by “Cato” (Frank Owen, Michael Foot, Peter Howard)
*#2: How to Win by “Miles”
#2: 100,000,000 Allies: If we Choose, by “Scipio”
***#3: The People’s War by “Cato”
*#3: Still at Large by “Cato”
*#4: Learn From France, by Manuel Chaves Nogales
#5: Enlist India for Freedom! by Edward John Thompson
#6: Churchill Can Unite Ireland, by Jim Phelan
#7: Anderson’s Prisoners, by “Judex” (H.D. Hughes)
#8: What is at Stake, and Why Not Say So? by C.E.M. Joad
#9: A Key to Victory: Spain, by Charles Duff
#10: Home Guard for Victory! by Hugh Slater (published 1941)
#11: America Our Ally, by Henry Noel Brailsford

#12: We Were Not All Wrong, by Geoffrey Le Mesurier Mander
#14: Help Us Germans to Beat the Nazis! by Heinrich Fraenkel

* Announced by not published (that I can find)
** No title announced nor published (that I can find)
*** Announced but not published (that I can find). A book called The People’s War by Israel Epstein was published by Gollancz in 1939. This book does not seem to be the same title announced for the Victory Books series, authored by “Cato.”

Dust jacket design for this copy of Enlist India for Freedom! by Edward Thompson uses the typical, understated and subtle jacket design used on many Gollancz books (starting in 1928), affectionately known as the “yellow peril.”

The jacket spine includes the title, author, price (2/6 net) and publisher. The front of the jacket uses a bold typographic design, with the series name (and series number), title (in red) and author. The front jacket flap notes a book, not in the series, by the author.

The rear of the jacket and rear jacket flap is blank except, on the back, for a printer’s statement: “The Fanfare Press, London.”

The book is bound in blue cloth with black typography on the spine (title, author, publisher).

The half-title page:

A catalog of titles (through #8 on this copy) is followed by an interesting comment on the issuing order of titles in the series, suggesting the rather hurried process of getting these titles published:

While the serial numbers will be retained as above – that is to say, each book will be published under the serial number announced – the numbers do not necessarily represent the order of publication. The issues immediately following GUILTY MEN will probably be nos. 2, 5, 6, and 7 – all of which it is hoped to publish during August 1940. But the whole series will be published very rapidly.

The titles, and in some cases the pseudonyms, are provisional.

The facing title page includes the series name and number, title, author and publisher. The year of publication follows the publisher.

A dedication on the copyright page is followed by a printers note: “Printed in Great Britain by Purnell and Sons, LTD., (T.U.), Paulton (Somerset) and London.”