Friday 3 July 2015

The Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene, 1959–1960, Peter Edwards Dust Jackets

From his debut novel in 1929, The Man Within, until his eighteenth in 1961, A Burnt-Out Case, Graham Greene's principal English publisher was William Heinemann Ltd. (After A Burnt-Out Case Greene left Heinemann for The Bodley Head, where in 1957 he had been made a director by his friend Max Reinhardt, Managing Director of the publishing house; see Norman Sherry's The Life of Graham Greene Volume 3: 1955–1991.) With the exception of Greene's second and third novels, The Name of Action (1930) and Rumour at Nightfall (1931), which the writer repudiated and which were never reprinted, all of Greene's books were reprinted in hardback by Heinemann multiple times throughout the 1930s, '40s and '50s, either in their original form or in the reset Uniform Edition of 1947–55, with their austere red and grey dust jackets. Then, in 1959, Heinemann introduced a striking new edition of Greene's books: The Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene.

I was unaware of the Library Edition until earlier this year, when I chanced upon a 1959 Library Edition of Greene's 1948 novel The Heart of the Matter in Colin Page Antiquarian Books in Brighton. I was immediately taken with the lovely wraparound dust jacket, which was designed by Peter Edwards, best known these days, along with his wife Gunvor, as illustrator of the Thomas the Tank Engine Railway Series from 1963–1972, and as the book was only £3.50, I snapped it up. Later, after some further investigation, I discovered that Heinemann had issued over a dozen of Greene's novels in the Library Edition, all with Peter Edwards wrappers; and as there were a number of Greene's novels that I wanted to read, in particular his "entertainments", as the author styled his more crime- and espionage-inclined books, I set about trying to collect some of them.

No easy task. Though some books in the Library Edition reprinted two or three times, they proved tricky to track down, and even where they could be found in amongst the various Uniform Editions and Collected Editions listed online, they frequently lacked dust jackets or were ex-library copies or, worse, rebinds. But after a little work, I managed to secure a further six books in the edition, making seven altogether, a good many of them first printings.

Naturally I've added their dust jackets to Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s, but I've gathered them together here also – along with jacket flaps and cases, the latter all with the red cloth boards characteristic of the edition – to demonstrate what an exceptional body of work Peter Edwards's little-seen wrappers are. (Click on the images to see them bigger.) Books are arranged in order of original publication of the novels rather the Library Edition numbering, which can be found on the jacket flaps and which runs in a different sequence; I've noted those numbers at the end of the publishing info for each title.

The Man Within, Heinemann, orig. 1929, Library Edition 1959 (third reprint, 1968), L9
Greene's 1929 debut novel, this is a good illustration of the perils of collecting the Library Editions. I knew from the online listing that this was an ex-library copy, so the fact that the front endpaper had been removed didn't come as a surprise; but I didn't know that this copy was the 1968 reprint of the 1959 Library Edition (which also reprinted in 1960 and 1964), and nor was I aware that the jacket front flap was torn, and the back flap was completely loose. Still, the book was cheap, and now that I've repaired the back flap the thing looks presentable enough.

The novel is set in and around my stomping ground of Lewes and the Sussex Downs; Peter Edwards's jacket illustration could almost be the view from Mount Caburn down to Newhaven, were it not for the absence of the River Ouse. And on the jacket front flap, note the book's number in the edition: not L1, as one might suppose of Greene's debut, but L9; L1, as I'll demonstrate shortly, is taken by a much later novel.

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Stamboul Train, Heinemann, orig. 1932, Library Edition 1959, L3
This was an extremely fortunate find, which I acquired from an Italian seller on eBay for just under ten euros (about seven quid). There are no other copies of the first printing of the 1959 Library Edition currently available online that I can see, just a single copy of the 1960 reprint of the edition, priced at £100, and a few jacketless copies of the 1965 reprint priced at around a fiver. The first of Greene's self-styled "entertainments", Peter Edwards's dust jacket depicts the sequence in the novel where the Orient Express – the "Stamboul Train" of the title – is stopped at Subotica.

. . . . . . . . . .

The Confidential Agent, Heinemann, orig. 1939; Library Edition 1960, L11
There are just three other copies of the Library Edition of The Confidential Agent available online at present, one a 1965 reprint of said which lacks a dust jacket, the others first printings priced at around £20 and £175. My first printing cost £4.30, and though the jacket is a little rubbed and chipped, it still shows off Peter Edwards's evocative artwork well – one of the best of his designs for the Library Edition wrappers that I've seen, I think.

The third of Greene's "entertainments", The Confidential Agent could well be my next Greene read (after Our Man in Havana, which I'm currently reading).

. . . . . . . . . .

The Power and the Glory, Heinemann, orig. 1940, Library Edition 1959 (first reprint, 1960), L1
My most recent acquisition in the Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene – it arrived in the post yesterday. I noticed this 1960 printing of the 1959 edition online a month or so ago, but there were other Greene novels I was keener to read, plus it was a reprint; so it was only last week that I finally decided to buy it: it was a good price – less than twenty quid (including postage), as opposed to £100 for the only other jacketed copy of this printing currently available in the UK – and both book and jacket, the latter with its splendid Goya-esque painted artwork, are in near fine condition.

Bizarrely, The Power and the Glory is number 1 in the Library Edition, despite being Greene's eighth novel (or tenth if you count the two early novels he disowned). If there's a rationale for the numbering in the edition, I've yet to discern it.

. . . . . . . . . .

The Ministry of Fear, Heinemann, orig. 1943, Library Edition 1960, L8
I'll be posting a review of this fine novel soon enough; suffice it to say of the story here that Peter Edwards's jacket, with its vision of a Blitz-blasted London, barrage balloons floating overhead, and with the novel's lead, Arthur Rowe, in the foreground, his face unseen, clutching (as the story makes clear) a copy of Charlotte M. Yonge's The Little Duke in one hand and a cake in the other, subtly and cleverly hints at the nature of the novel without giving too much away.

A curious copy of the Library Edition of The Ministry of Fear, this one. To all intents and purposes it's the 1960 first printing of that edition – certainly the copyright page in the book states as much; but the front flap of the jacket bears a decimal price rather than a shillings one, and it sports an ISBN (or SBN), a numbering system which wasn't introduced in publishing until the mid-1960s. It also lacks its Library Edition number – although I know that's L8, as before I acquired this copy of the book from a New Zealand seller, I bought a cheapo ex-library 1963 first reprint of this edition which turned out to be (shudder) a trimmed-down rebind (it's a good centimetre shorter and cased in shiny black faux leather).

So it's a bit of a mystery. I suppose it's conceivable the price on the flap is in New Zealand pounds, which was the currency over there until 1967 (when the NZ dollar was introduced), but that doesn't explain the ISBN. It's possible the jacket was taken from a later printing and married to a 1960 first printing book, but what little wear there is on both wrapper and book suggests they've been together for quite some time. Still, no matter: there's only one other jacketed copy of the Library Edition of the novel available online that I'm aware of, a 1963 reprint offered at £100, and I didn't pay anything like that, even with postage – plus the condition is near fine, some fading on the jacket spine aside.

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The Heart of the Matter, Heinemann, orig. 1948, Library Edition 1959 , L5
The book that started this particular collecting obsession. When I tweeted a picture of Peter Edwards's wrapper shortly after buying this copy, there was quite a bit of interest from some of the book designer folk I interact with on Twitter. I'll be interested to learn what they think of Edwards's other jackets for the Library Edition.

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The Quiet American, Heinemann, orig. 1955, Library Edition 1960, L13
The Library Edition of The Quiet American is actually the first reprint of the novel altogether. I'm quite familiar with The Quiet American – I've written about it before – and to my mind Peter Edwards's dust jacket evokes the novel beautifully.

I'm unsure as to whether the Library Edition continued past this point, number 13 in the series. I've seen some info online which suggests that both Loser Takes All (orig. 1955) and A Burnt-Out Case (orig. 1961) were published into the edition (but perhaps not Our Man in Havana, orig. 1958), but I've not been able to confirm that, and nor have I seen any evidence of Peter Edwards wrappers for those books.* If anyone can shed any light there, or supply some of the Library numbers of other titles in the edition that I don't (yet) own,** or even better, owns any of the Library Editions I'm missing and is willing to part with them, do please either leave a comment or email me using the email address in the sidebar. I'll update this post with whatever information I receive, and whichever books in the edition I acquire, as and when.

The Thirteen Books in the Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene

The Power and the Glory (L1)
Brighton Rock (L2)
Stamboul Train (L3)
The End of the Affair (L4)
The Heart of the Matter (L5)
It's a Battlefield (L6)
England Made Me (L7)
The Ministry of Fear (L8)
The Man Within (L9)
A Gun for Sale (L10)
The Confidential Agent (L11)
The Lawless Roads (L12)
The Quiet American (L13)

* Commenter Guy Pujol subsequently confirmed that the Library Edition comprised just the thirteen titles listed above.

** Thanks also to Guy for supplying those missing numbers and making the above list possible.

– – – – – – – – – –

Addendum I, 24/7/15; see this post for the background to these additions.

Brighton Rock, Heinemann, orig. 1938, Library Edition 1959, L2

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The Lawless Roads, Heinemann, orig. 1939, Library Edition 1960, L12 (images courtesy Henk Konings)

– – – – – – – – – –

Addendum II, 28/7/17; see this post for the background to these additions.

The End of the Affair, Heinemann, orig. 1951, Library Edition 1959, L4 (image courtesy Martina Weatherley)

. . . . . . . . . .

England Made Me, Heinemann, orig. 1935, Library Edition 1960, L7 (image courtesy Martina Weatherley)

– – – – – – – – – –

Addendum III, 25/8/15; see this post for the background to these additions.

It's a Battlefield, Heinemann, orig. 1934, Library Edition 1959, L6 (image courtesy Chris Fisher)

A Gun for Sale, Heinemann, orig. 1936, Library Edition 1960, L10 (image courtesy Chris Fisher)

. . . . . . . . . .

The Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene (image courtesy Guy Pujol)

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The Power and the Glory (continental paperback edition), Heinemann/Nederland N.V., 1961 (image courtesy Henk Konings)

The Heart of the Matter (continental paperback edition), Heinemann/Nederland N.V., 1961 (image courtesy Henk Konings)


  1. Our Man in Havana was reprinted by Bodley Head in Library Edition, It came with a pretty good foreword written by Greene, a retrospective on the book, and some background on his time in Cuba.

    1. Ah, thanks for that. I'm guessing it didn't have a Peter Edwards wrapper though...?

    2. No sorry, just that plain ol' green, or was it green and blue? one they used.

  2. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this edition, with those beautiful covers, was to be reprinted as a set? Yes, it would.

  3. Well done for writing up on these fantastic Library Editions.

    I've been hunting for more since I chanced upon a fine condition Ministry of Fear in a fine jacket for £1.99 in Oxfam - what a bargain!

    These Library editions are actually harder to find than trade editions - and the wraparound artwork is amazing.

    1. That is a bargain for Ministry of Fear. I have to say, my one worry in writing this post was that by 'outing' the Library Editions, I might narrow the chances of coming across cheap copies. But as you say, they're so elusive anyway, I'm not sure the chances of coming across them could be any slimmer!

    2. Nick

      Just checked my Ministry of Fear and it is exactly the same as yours - dated 1960, with an ISBN and priced £1.25 - I didn't notice at the time!

      They can't BOTH be New Zealand copies or have later jackets.

      My guess is they are actually early 70's printings and Heinemann made an error, leaving the full printing information blank and just showing the date when the Library Edition was first published.

      Very strange indeed.

    3. I think you might be right, Steve – that did occur to me as well, but I had no way of checking it. Thank you!

    4. Hi,

      I have a copy of The Power & the Glory with a price of 25s net and £1.25 net with library edition number (L1) and an ISBN number (434 30521 9). It's dated 1967 so I guess this might be the year that yours came out.

      I have 11 of these books I can swap if there is still any interest out there.

  4. If other Library Editions were reprinted into the early 70's it's the most likely explanation I think.

    Another idea - maybe Ministry of Fear was never reprinted as it didn't sell well, and the copies we have were "new old stock" in the Heinemann warehouse as the 70s rolled around - then at some point they reprinted new jackets for them with decimal prices and ISBN numbers.

    If it was just a case of the wrong prices they could have simply put a new price sticker over the Shillings price - but that wouldn't help with a missing ISBN, you'd really need to reprint the jacket to do that job properly.

    So maybe we DO have first editions, but in a later jacket - if there are later printings out there with the correct dates on the copyright page, that theory is wrong of course.

    Enough of these conspiracy theories though - I've got more books to find!

    1. Ministry of Fear definitely reprinted in the Library Edition, Steve: I've got a 1963 reprint as well as our mystery printing, and that has "Reprinted 1963" in the copyright line. But of course that doesn't preclude Heinemann having overstock of the 1960 printing as well, so your theory is certainly plausible.

      Ha, this is the sort of stuff that I could spend all day on, but you're right: books to find! (In particular a jacketed Library Edition of A Gun for Sale, which I'd love to get my hands on.)

    2. Speaking of books to find, a nice-sounding copy of the 1959 Library Edition of Stamboul Train has just popped up on AbeBooks from an American seller if anyone's interested. Not cheap, but not extortionate either.

    3. Seems unlikely they would be reprinting in 1963 if they still had unsold 1960 printings sitting in the warehouse - so I'm leaning towards my original theory of a 1970's printing error.

      Anyway, just had a look on Abe and I HAVE to find a Brighton Rock now - but not at £200

      So many titles to get - this may take some time.

    4. Looks like somebody bought that Stamboul Train I mentioned – doesn't seem to be on ABeBooks anymore. You're welcome, whoever it was wot 'ad it!

  5. Great post. Nice to see others are also interested in this series. I just displayed by complete set last week for a local book collectors' society meeting because the topic for the month was dust jacket art.

    I began collecting the Library Edition about 2 years ago (starting with Brighton Rock). I had the 12 fiction books all within 2 months, but it took me another year to finally track down Journey Without Maps. [I found a copy of the variant laminated pictorial binding, which is slightly smaller in size; but it took a while to find the red cloth binding with the dust jacket.] It took 12 sellers in 7 different countries. I still want to upgrade my copy of The Heart of the Matter; its jacket is in inferior condition compared to the others.

    To fill in the remaining serial numbers you asked about:
    It's a Battlefield (L6)
    England Made Me (L7)
    A Gun for Sale (L10)
    The End of the Affair (L4)

    Yes, only those 13 titles were printed in the series, all between 1959 and 1960 (first run). Our Man in Havana was at press when the final titles were released in 1960, but it seems Heinemann was not willing to add it in the series so close to the release of the first edition.

    As I mentioned above, some of the books in the series were released in a variant binding that was slightly smaller and had a laminate pictorial paper covering over the boards with the same Peter Edwards wrap-around illustrations. I have a few of them, but am still not sure if all 13 copies were released in this binding. They are not nearly as attractive as the dust jacketed ones, so I haven't actively tried to collect them. But I mention this because some sellers (especially on eBay) are knowledgeable enough to know the difference between the cloth bound editions with dust jackets and the variant laminate covers; so definitely ask questions if photos don't make it obvious, otherwise you may get stuck with copies you don't want.

    Also, some of the Edwards illustrations were used for the continental paperback editions; so far, I have identified only two of these (The Power and the Glory and The Heart of the Matter).

    1. Wow, thank you for all that info, Guy – I'll update the post with the Library numbers as soon as I can. I'm impressed you managed to collect 12 of the books in such a short space of time; it took me a few months to get my hands on the eight I own, and as you can see, their jackets aren't all in pristine condition (and nor are they all first prints of the Library Edition). I don't suppose you'd be willing to share any photos of your Library Edition collection? My email is in the blog sidebar if so.

      Interesting about the laminated board binding too. I wasn't even aware those existed – nor the continental paperback editions.

    2. Hi,

      I've just bought a copy of the Ministry of Fear from an Australian seller.

      This has the ISBN number and the £1.25 price. I suppose this supports the theory that it is a New Zealand copy.

  6. Peter Edwards did a gorgeous poster for the GPO which i'd love to show ... he went on to do Thomas Tank Engine covers.

  7. Wonderful covers - I had several, but not the whole set, and they are the editions in which I first read Greene, at school in New Zealand in the 1960s. I have a nice scan of The Confidential Agent if it would be of use. The one you posted gets a bit ragged when you blow it up! And if you ever come across the dust jackets to John Buchan's The Complete Adventures of Sir Edward Leithen or The Complete Adventures of Dickson McCunn, I've been looking for them for years! But keep up the good work: your site is a delight,