Everyman's Library: The Ravilious Era, 1935-1952

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The typical Everyman's Library book bound and jacketed during the "Ravilious Era" from 1935 to 1952 is characterized by a solid color dust jacket over a book with an undecorated spine. The book is radically modified from the bindings and jacket designs used prior to 1935, with new design elements by Eric Ravilious. Binding and jacket colors and interior details vary among the thirteen sections of the library: Biography, Classical, Essays and Belles Lettres, Fiction, History, Oratory, Poetry & Drama, Reference, Romance, Science, Theology & Philosophy, Travel & Topography, and Young People.

New collectors of Everyman's Library are often confused by books that have mismatched dates, bindings, and jackets. Such mismatches are common and are due to the way Dent manufactured Everyman's titles. Books were printed in batches of about 10,000 and stored, unbound, until orders were received. Jackets were also printed and stored. Because of this, slower-selling titles often have mismatched dates, bindings, and jackets: a slow selling title printed in the Flatback Era could be bound late in the Shield Era, but not jacketed until the Ravilious Era.

In order to give a basic overview of the series in the Ravilious Era, two typical Everyman's titles from this era are illustrated first in detail below, followed by examples from each of the thirteen sections. Unless otherwise noted, all images on this page are from the collection of John B. Krygier.

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Small series number on spine (1935-38)

Large series number on spine (1938-52)

Scallop design replaces abstract knot (1945-52)

Dust Jackets

In 1935 Everyman's dust jackets were redesigned to look simpler and more contemporary, with an abstract woodcut knot on the front of the jacket. Between 1935 and 1938, a small series number was used on the spine, as with Kingsley's Madam How and Lady Why, No. 777 (1926). After 1938 the series number was significantly larger, as on Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo, No. 393 (1938).

Beginning in 1945, the abstract knot was replaced on some volumes with a scallop-like design overlaid with an 'EL', as with Wells' The Time Machine & The Wheels of Chance, No. 915 (1949). The scallop design was used on all jackets starting in 1951.

Occasionally a blurb for the book is found on the front dust jacket flap; otherwise advertisements for other books in the series are featured on the jacket flaps and rear panel. The top of the jacket spine indicates the section of the Library to which the book belongs. In some cases, only one part of the dual categories (Belles-Lettres & Essays, Philosophy & Theology, and Poetry & Drama) is indicated on the jacket spine.

Pictorial Jackets

A few illustrated jackets were issued during the Ravilious era. The spines, however, followed the format of the regular jackets of this period. Beginning in 1940, five titles were issued with title-specific jackets:

  • Modern Humour (No. 957, 1st 1940)

  • The Grossmiths' Diary of a Nobody (No. 963, 1st 1940)

  • France's At the Sign of the Reine Pedauque, etc. (No. 967, 1st 1941)

  • Synge's Plays, Poems, and Prose (No. 968, 1st 1941)

  • Gilchrist's Life of William Blake (No. 971, 1st 1942)

Beginning in 1949, twenty-four titles in the Young People section titles were also issued in pictorial jackets, including Aesop's Fables, (No. 657), Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (No. 59) and the Lambs' Tales from Shakespeare (No. 8).


In the Ravilious era, the binding was changed to a woven cloth material, with a simplified spine with no decoration. A new Ravilious-designed icon was embossed on the cover. The color of the binding continued to indicate the section.

Scallop design (1935)

Repeating pattern design (1936-52)


Newly designed endpapers replaced the Reginald Knowles design used for Everyman's books since 1906. In 1935, the endpapers consist of and 'E' and 'L' over a scallop-like design (top). In 1936, the endpapers were again redesigned to use an abstract repeating pattern (bottom), which persisted until the larger format redesign of 1953.

Advertisement & Half-title Pages

Following the flyleaf page with the Everyman's motto ("Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide, in thy most need to go by thy side"), each volume has the series number of the book, with a brief series advertisment, facing the half-title page, which indicates the section of the book, the title, and the author.

Half-title Page Verso & Title Page

The reverse side (verso) of the half-title page now contains a brief biography of the author (blank for edited works) and a newly designed title page with a Ravilious-designed abstract woodcut specific to the section to which the title belongs.

Copyright Page

A redesigned copyright page is on the verso of the title page. First printings are indicated as such. As with all previous Everyman books, printings subsequent to the first are indicated. Titles with numerous reprints sometimes omit all but the date of first and last printing.

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Biography: Yellow Jacket

Lord Byron

Number 931
1936 (1st pr.)

Biography: Magenta or Rose Binding

Biography: Icon

Classical: Light Grey Jacket

Selected Works

Number 955
1948 (1st 1939)

Classical: Apple Green Binding

Classical: Icon

Essays & Belles-Lettres: Light Blue Jacket

Mary Russell Mitford
Our Village

Number 927
1951 (1st 1936)

Essays & Belles-Lettres: Orange Binding

Essays & Belles-Lettres: Icon

Fiction: Red Jacket

Nikolai E. Shchedrin
The Golovlyov Family

Number 908
1932 (1st pr., later binding & jacket)

Fiction: Carmine Binding

Fiction: Icon

History: Dark Grey Jacket

Count Franz von Lutzow
Bohemia: An Historical Sketch

Number 432
1939 (rev. ed., 1st 1910)

History: Scarlet Binding

History: Icon

Oratory: Red Jacket

Edmund Burke
Speeches & Letters on American Affairs

Number 340

Oratory: Brown Binding

Oratory: Icon

Poetry & Drama: Green Jacket

Heinrich Heine
Prose & Poetry: A Selection

Number 911
1932 (1st pr., later binding and jacket)

Poetry & Drama: Olive Binding

Poetry & Drama: Icon

Reference: Magenta Jacket

R. Farquharson Sharp, ed.
A Short Biographical Dictionary of Foreign Literature

Number 900
1929 (1st ed., later binding & jacket)

Reference: Maroon Binding

Reference: Icon

Romance: Orange Jacket

Lady Charlotte Guest (translator)
The Mabinogion

Number 97

Romance: Light Blue Binding

Romance: Icon

Science: Grey Blue Jacket

Hugh Miller
The Old Red Sandstone

Number 103
1922 (3rd pr., later binding & jacket)

Science: Fawn Binding

Science: Icon

Theology & Philosophy: Yellow Jacket

Robert Burton
The Anatomy of Melancholy, Vol. 2

Number 887

Theology & Philosophy: Deep Blue Binding

Theology & Philosophy: Icon

Travel & Topography: Green Jacket

Richard Hakluyt
Voyages, Vol. 2

Number 265

Travel & Topography: Dark Green Binding

Travel & Topography: Icon

Young People: Bright Blue Jacket

Mother Goose's Book of Nursery Rhymes & Songs

Number 473

Young People: Blue Binding

Young People: Icon

Copyright © 2007, John B. Krygier
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