Books & Myself – John A. Hammerton (1944) (1st ed)


Books & Myself – John A. Hammerton (1944) (1st ed)


Title: Books and Myself

Author: John Alexander Hamilton

Publisher: Macdonald & Co., London. No date, but most likely the 1st edition of 1944.

Condition: Hardcover, fair. Fading to spine, especially severe at the edges. Some foxing, inscription to ffep. Attached to the endpaper is a letter from the author to a reader, dated 1944. With photographic plates. Binding tight, text unmarked. 343pp., app 8″ by 5.5″.

The memoirs of John Alexander Hammerton, and influential figure in the early 20th century UK publishing scene.

About the author (from Wikipedia):

Sir John Alexander Hammerton (1871-1949) is described by the Dictionary of National Biography as “the most successful creator of large-scale works of reference that Britain has known”.

Hammerton’s first posts in journalism included a period in Nottingham, where he first met his lifelong collaborator and friend, Arthur Mee. In 1905, Hammerton joined Alfred Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press. He and Mee produced the Harmsworth Self-Educator.

Hammerton contributed to the first edition of Mee’s Children’s Encyclopædia, which was a fortnightly series from 1908 till 1910 before being published in eight large volumes. Hammerton’s contribution consisted of compiling articles on ‘Famous Books’ and ‘Poetry’.

Hammerton’s greatest achievement was Harmsworth’s Universal Encyclopædia. It was published first as a fortnightly series from 1920 to 1922. The Encyclopaedia sold 12 million copies throughout the English-speaking world.

In 1933, Hammerton’s A Popular History of the Great War (in six volumes) was published. In his introduction to volume 1, Hammerton discusses the previous World War I series: ‘Although it remains a storehouse of information for future students of the period, “The Great War”, as that set of thirteen massive volumes was called, would now require to be largely re-written in light of later knowledge’.

Hammerton later edited a biography of J. M. Barrie and studies of Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson. He also wrote Other Things than War: Musings and Memories (1943), and an autobiography, Books and Myself.