XVIII Century French Romances

aka/ Eighteenth-Century French Romances

Chapman & Hall (London, UK)
Series dates: 1925-1928
Size: 6″ x 9″

Robert M. McBride & Co. (New York)
Series dates: 1926-1928
Size: 6″ x 9″

Vyvyan Holland, son of Oscar Wilde, was the general editor of the XVIII Century French Romances series, which provided new translations of 12 titles that were published between 1925 and 1928. A similar series, the Broadway Library of Eighteenth-Century French Literature, was co-published, beginning in 1927, in the UK by Routledge and Brentano’s in the US.

Each title in the XVIII Century French Romances series was limited to 1000 numbered copies, printed by the Curwen Press for Chapman & Hall. Some titles appear (WorldCat, AbeBooks) with the imprint of Robert M. McBride & Co. (New York) who may have distributed the books in the US. I have not seen a copy that includes the actual McBride imprint in the book.

The 12 titles issued in the series are as follows, with their year of publication:

#1 The Fairy Doll, Jean-Galli di Bibiena (1925)
#2 The Opportunities of a Night, M. de Crebillion le Fils (1925)
#3 The Queen of Golconda and Other Tales, Stanislas-Jean de Boufflers (1926)
#4 Angola: An Eastern Tale, Jacques-Rochette de la Morliere (1926)
#5 Rameau’s Nephew and Other Works, Denis Diderot (1926)
#6 The Prophet’s Cousin, Nicholas Fromaget (1926)
#7 The Masked Lady, Joseph Dureyde Sauroy  (1926)
#8 All the Better For Her! and Other Stories, Claude-Henri de Fusee de Voisenon (1927)
#9 The Coachman’s Story and Other Tales, Anne-Claude-Philippe de Tubieres Comte de Caylus (1927)
#10 Spleen and Other Stories, Baron de Pierre-Victor Besenval (1927)
#11 A Thousand and One Follies, Jacques Cazotte (1927)
#12 Never Again! Point de Lendemain and Other Stories, Claude Joseph Dorat (1928)

Below is a copy of #9 in the series, The Coachman’s Story and Other Tales, by Anne-Claude-Philippe de Tubieres Comte de Caylus (issued in 1927). Jackets for the series consist of a sheet of distinctive Curwen Press printed paper, which typically consists of repeating graphic patterns. Curwen patterned paper (or Curwen inspired paper) was used for numerous other series from the 1930s through the 1950s (including books and jackets in the Harrap Library, Masterworks Library, Novel Library, Spenser Library, Zodiac Books and Zodiac Press.  For this series, the jackets have no printing (other than the design) and use a glued label on the front of the jacket to distinguish each title. The entire jacket is shown below.

Labels glued to the front of the jacket include the title, author, translator (in this case, Eric Sutton) and author of the introduction (in this case, George Saintsbury). The price is also included on the label: 21 shillings. That is about £57 pounds adjusted for inflation, or about $74: these were expensive books. Note the lack of any typography on the spine.

The rear of the jacket:

The books were quarter-bound with a brown spine and paper wrapped boards which used the same repeating design as the dust jacket (most likely the same paper was used for both). The books do include the title and author and publisher on the spine, in gold typography. The top-stain is gold, and pages are deckle-edged.

Prior to the half-title page, a list of the first 8 titles covers two facing pages. This title, #9 in the series, The Coachman’s Story and Other Tales, is not included in the list (which goes up to the 8th title issued).

An indication of 1000 copies (of which this copy is 390) faces the half-title page.

The title page with the Chapman and Hall Ltd. colophon and imprint. The date of 1927 is included below the imprint.

The printer’s indication (the Curwen Press) follows the title page and is faced with a note about the text.

The first page of the introduction to the book.