Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Gresham, Myth and Legend series, 1912–24

Between 1912 and 1924 (or, possibly, 1930), Gresham published a beautiful series of books under the title "Myth and Legend in Literature and Art."

I have, and have had, a number of these Gresham volumes over the years, and have often idly wondered how many titles there were in the full series. When I recently went looking for an answer to this question, I found it harder than I expected to locate anything on the extent of the series; and so I have decided to collect some of the information I found here.

The Gresham series (and I specify the Gresham series to distinguish it from “The Myths Series” published by Harrap from 1907 to 1917) appears to have grown by fits and starts, but this appearance is deceptive. There was a regular progression in the publication of volumes in the series (as detailed below), but it was issued in two distinctive bindings: the first six volumes were issued in matching art nouveau bindings (1912–13); the series was later extended to eight volumes, which were issued (and re-issued) in a matching art deco bindings (1915–17); later still, the series was extended to ten volumes, in the same style of deco bindings (1923–24).

In 1930, another two volumes appeared; these volumes were not issued in series-matching cloth, although they are somewhat close in style, and they only appear in some of the publisher's (seemingly later) lists of volumes in the series. So, for instance, Myths from Myths from Melanesia and Indonesia (no.12) contained a list of "Myth and Legend in Literature and Art" volumes, but it stops with no.10; however, a later edition of Myths of China and Japan (no.9) includes nos. 11 and 12.

Although almost all volumes I have seen are undated, the sequence of volumes—as published and as listed in advertisements—is:

1. Charles Squire, Celtic Myth and Legend: Poetry and Romance ([1912]) [here].
2. A. R. Hope Moncrieff, Classic Myth and Legend ([1912]).
3. Donald A. Mackenzie, Teutonic Myth and Legend (1912) [here].
4. A. R. Hope Moncrieff, Romance and Legend of Chivalry ([1913]) [here].
5. Donald A. Mackenzie, Egyptian Myth and Legend ([1913]) [here].
6. Donald A. Mackenzie, Indian Myth and Legend (1913) [here].
7. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths of Babylonia and Assyria ([1915]) [here].
8. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths of Crete and pre-Hellenic Europe ([1917]) [here].
9. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths of China and Japan ([1923]) [here].
10. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths of Pre-Columbian America ([1924]) [here].
11. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths and Traditions of the South Sea Islands ([1930]) [here].
12. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths from Myths from Melanesia and Indonesia ([1930]) [here].

Below are some photos of these volumes in the earlier art nouveau bindings, and the later art deco bindings. Note, the volumes in these pictures are in no particular order and, in the case if the deco bindings, are not of all volumes; however, they should be sufficient to help readers differentiate the bindings and get an idea of the style of each.

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