Wayfarers’ Library

J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd (London, UK) & E.P. Dutton (New York, US)
Series dates: 1914-1942
Size: 4.5″ x 7″

wayfarers-logoBy 1914 Everyman’s Library had reached nearly 700 titles and was published in the UK as well as the U.S. by Dutton. Dent continued to publish the scholarly Temple Classics in the U.K. The Wayfarers’ Library, published in the UK by Dent and the US by Dutton, “embraces all that is healthy, clean and good in the lighter field of modern literature, ranging from works of pure romance to the best collective essays of the day” according to a series prospectus. Thus the series focused on modern literature, less scholarly and more popular. In the U.S., the Modern Library simply incorporated such popular titles in the series; Dent and Dutton segregated popular titles in a new series. The Wayfarers’ Library eventually reached about 100 titles before the publication of new volumes slowed in the early 1930s. A few titles are added in the mid-1930s, and a few reprints until 1942.

Ad for UK Wayfarers’ Library (from Sullivan, Blantyre, 1914)

A.G. Gardiner’s Prophets, Priests and Kings is undated, but probably from the initial year (1914) of the Wayfarers’ Library. The jacket flap indicates forthcoming (early 1915) titles in the series. The jackets are illustrated and unique to the title (unlike titles in Everyman’s Library and the Temple Classics). The spine portrays a gentleman wayfaring and reading (a copy of the Wayfarers’ Library, no doubt). The price is indicated on the jacket spine, 1/ net (F. 1.50 also indicated). The series number for the title (21) is also printed on the spine.


The rear of the jacket lists titles in the Wayfarers’ Library and the rear flap advertises Everyman’s Library.


Bindings are cloth, in varying colors. Gold stamping.


Endpapers are decorated with miscellaneous fairies.


An illustrated frontispiece faces the title page. The reverse of the title page is blank. Dent had a tendency to not indicated dates on first printings, only on reprints.


A catalog in the back repeats the titles listed on the back of the jacket.


E.P. Dutton published Everyman’s Library in the U.S. and also published the Wayfarers’ Library.

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Advertisement for the U.S., Dutton published Wayfarers’ Library from The Outlook, Vol. 110, 1915.

This copy of Daudet’s Kings in Exile is undated but probably from the first year of the series (1914). The jackets are common to the series, different from the U.K. versions. The price, .40 cents, is indicated on the spine. The Everyman Encyclopedia in its variant bindings is advertised on the front jacket flap.


The reverse of the jacket advertises the new series, as well as the Dent & Dutton French series, Collection Gallia.


Cloth bindings are the same as the U.K. versions.


The same frontispiece illustration and title page design, except that Dutton is added as co-publisher.


Shaw’s Love Among the Artists and Sheldon’s Bubble Fortune are two 1914 Dutton U.S. books in the Wayfarers’ Library.


Dent, like other publishers, was apt to rebind series titles for gift and holiday sales. In this case, a 1917 printing of Stackpool’s The Blue Lagoon sports a suede binding and is packed in a box with the book’s title on the edge (shown at the top in the image below). The design of the suede binding was probably offered on better selling titles in the series and was common for each title.


Dent would have printed copies of the Wayfarers’ Library and kept them unbound until needed. In this case, the book was bound in suede.


Dent typically indicated printings after the first: in this case, a 1919 copy (reprinted in 1917 and 1918) from an initial 1914 printing in the series.


Bennett’s The City of Pleasure is a 1920 2nd printing (first 1914). The price on the jacket spine is overprinted with a price increase to 1/6 net. Gardiner’s The War Lords is undated, but 1915-1917.


H.B. Marriott Watson’s Rosalind in Arden is a 1922 reprint (first printing in series, 1914). Belloc’s The Historic Thames is also a 1922 reprint (first printing in series, 1914).


A 1927 first printing in the series copy of Many Furrows by the illustrious ‘Alpha of the Plough’ reveals a simpler design on the jacket front and spine. The jacket flaps are blank. A full list of titles in the series, 98 in all, are listed on the back of the jacket. Bindings remain the same. No series number is included on the spine, as it had been previously.


The title page has also been simplified.


Sanger’s Seventy Years a Showman in a 1927 printing in the series. Prices are gone from the jacket spine, and the series number is included.


A 1934 copy of Quiller-Couch’s The Astonishing History of Troy Town shows more refinements in the jacket design. A full list of titles is on the back of the jacket, the flaps are blank. The title page and binding continues without change.


Two Conrad titles, The Shadow Line and Within the Tides are undated but possibly the mid-1930s as the series was waning. The catalog on the back of the jacket is replaced by advertisements for Swan pens. Jacket flaps are blank.