Thursday, 11 July 2019

Harrap, The Myths Series, 1907–17

Between 1907 and 1917, George G. Harrap published a series of a dozen books, later titled "The Myths Series"—a series imitated by Gresham, who published at least ten volumes under the title "Myth and Legend in Literature and Art" between 1912 and 1924. (For my post on the Gresham series, see here.)

Just as with the Gresham series, I have, and have had, a number of the Harrap volumes over the years, often wondered how many titles there were in the full series and, when I went looking for an answer to this question, found very little on the subject; and so I have decided to collect some of the information I found here.

A 1919 reprint of no.2 in the series (see below) explains, in an advertisement, that "Each volume" is in "Demy 8vo, about 400 pages, with from 32 to 64 Plates and Full Index"; the price for "Cloth extra, 12s. 6d. net"; readers are also informed that a “Special Prospectus of this Important Series will be sent to any address.” Sadly, I have not found a copy of this Prospectus, but I found other printings of this advertisement online (here, for example).

The twelve volumes in the series are:

1. Hélène A. Guerber, The Myths of Greece and Rome (1907). [1909]
2. Hélène A. Guerber, Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas (1908). [1909; 1919]
3. Hélène A. Guerber, Myths and Legends of the Middle Ages (September 1909). [1909; 1911]
4. Maud Isabel Ebbutt, Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race (1910). [1918]
5. T. W. Rolleston, Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race (1912, 2nd ed. rev.) [1929]
6. F. Hadland Davis, The Myths and Legends of Japan (1912). [1928]
7. Lewis Spence, The Myths of Mexico and Peru (1913). [1913]
8. Lewis Spence, The Myths of the North American Indians (1914). [1914]
9. Lewis Spence, Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt (1915). [1925]
10. Sister Nivedita and A. Coomaraswamy, Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists (1913). [1913]
11. Lewis Spence, The Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria (1916). [1920]
12. Woislav M. Petrovitch, Hero Tales and Legends of the Serbians (1917). [1921]

Harrap issued a number of similar works under related series titles. By 1909, there were nineteen volumes appeared in the "Told Through the Ages" series (advertised in no.2); in 1919 there were eleven volumes in the "Folk-Lore and Fairy Tales" series (advertised here). Four volumes more clearly related to the "Myths series" are:

13. Thomas Bulfinch, The Golden Age of Myth and Legend (1915).
14. Hélène A. Guerber, The Book of the Epic (1916).
15. Lewis Spence, Legends and Romances of Spain (1920).
16. E. T. C. Werner, Myths and Legends of China (1920).

Although they are uniformly gaudy, the Harrap volumes were not issued in a consistent series-style bindings. And not only do the bindings differ quite a bit from each other in style, each volume was offered in a variety of bindings. This is probably because they were marketed as Christmas gift books. An advertisement in The Publishers' Circular (5 October 1907): 381, explains "Our bindings are even more attractive than last year," being "The most handsome and attractive Gift-books of the 1907 Season." We get more details in The Bookman (December 1912), Christmas Supplement, p.141, which advertises no.6 as available in the following bindings: “Gilt-top, 7s. 6d. net; or Velvet Persian Yapp, 10s. 6d. net; also in choice bindings, Boxed, Full Morocco, 21s. net; Half Vellum, 15s. net; Half Morocco, 15s. net.”

In price order, these various bindings are

(a) cloth, gilt-top ("cloth extra") [in a dustwrapper]: 7s 6d
(b) full soft cowhide ("Velvet Persian Yapp"): 10s 6d
(c) "Half Morocco": 15s
(d) "Half Vellum": 15s
(e) "Full Morocco": 21s

Although I cannot find an advertisement for it, it appears likely that (narrow) quarter Morocco was also available, since my copy of no.14 is bound thus. So, we can probably add:

(f) quarter leather: [price?]

Not long after the initial release of the volumes in this series, they were re-issued in a uniform, plain, binding: at first a boring blue (1911–12), then an even-more boring green (1916–27). I have found pictures online of most of the initial binding styles, a few in cloth with dustwrappers; plus I also have a few pictures of multiple volumes in the boring series bindings. The selection of images below is intended to cover a range of titles and bindings.













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