Joseph Malaby Dent founded the publishing firm of J.M. Dent and Company in 1888. (The firm became J.M. Dent & Sons in 1909). In 1904, Dent began to plan Everyman's Library, a series of one thousand classics to be published in an attractive format and sold at affordable prices, i.e., one shilling a volume. To meet the demand of production, Dent built the Temple Press. The publication of the Everyman Library began in 1906 and 152 titles were issued by the end of the first year. The momentum of the Everyman series broke in the second decade of the twentieth century. The Copyright Act of 1911 extended protection to fifty years after the author's death thus reducing the availability of Victorian texts and World War I delivered the double blow of inflation and shortages of supplies. Everyman's Library finally reached volume 1,000 on its golden jubilee, with the publication of Aristotle's Metaphysics on 29 March 1956. In 1960, Everyman Paperbacks were introduced. By 1975, 1,239 titles had been published in Everyman's Library, with total sales in excess of 60 million. Weidenfeld and Nicholson purchased J.M. Dent & Sons in January 1988. (Source: Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).
I bought my first Everyman's Library volume in 1955 when I was 16 years old. I found it in a basement bookstore in Lansing, Michigan. It was Volume Number 336, Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. I paid $1.00 for it and it was in bad shape. It would be many years before I would buy another volume of the library. I now have a collection of 200+ volumes.
My initial subsequent Everyman's Library acquisition was not because it was an Everyman's volume but rather because it was a "Little Red Book". Over the years I had been collecting "Little Red Books" (with some other color bindings thrown in) concentraing on books that were small, about 4 by 6 inches, that had red covers, usually came in sets and were anthologies. The gems of my library are Funk and Wagnalls, The World's Best series and other 10 volume F&W sets. In the process of searching for F&W's I would run across an Everyman's volume and pick it up. Well, they were small, usually red and came in a series (some are even anthologies).
Although my Everyman's Library collection is small I have difficulty remembering which ones I have so I decided to build this web site to keep track of them. As usual when I do something on the web I tend to get carried away. Hopefully what I have done, am doing, will be of interest to others.
As you look through these pages one name predominates all others, Ernest Rhys. Mr. Rhys was the chief editor for Everyman's Library. I have included a special page with Mr. Rhys thoughts regarding the library.
My first objective for the site is to generate a list of all 1,000 volumes. The list is being generated from lists in various volumes in my library. In this process I have found duplicate volume numbers with different titles between the lists. I am not sure if these are the results of errors by the original compilers or if over the years the contents of some volumes were actually changed. I have found duplicate numbers for Volumes 38, 98, 118, 179, 183, 185, 282, 332, 539, 722 and 966. I am missing the Everyman's classification for Volumes 146, 147, 346, 418, 493, 574, 597and 679 (these have a magenta background).
If you have comments, corrections and/or additions about this site please
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