Revised Version 2005

Gordon B. Neavill

Associate Professor

Library and Information Science Program

Wayne State University

106 Kresge Library

Detroit, MI 48202



Copyright © 2003-2005 by Gordon B. Neavill. All rights reserved.

Originally published in Modern Library Collector 46 (October 2003)


Permission is granted to individual collectors to reproduce single copies of the dating key for personal use only, as long as the copyright statement is included. The Modern Library Dating Key may not be reproduced for any other purpose, commercial or noncommercial, in any format (print, electronic, etc., including posting on web sites other than ModernLib), without written permission of the copyright holder. Linking from other web sites to the dating key on ModernLib is permissible.

Random House launched Modern Library Paperbacks in January 1955, nearly two years after Doubleday introduced Anchor Books, the first quality paperback series, in April 1953. It was not the paperback series that Cerf and Klopfer had hoped to publish. They had been engaged in extended negotiations with Allen Lane to acquire the American branch of Penguin Books. After negotiations broke down they slapped together a list of titles and put them out as quality paperbacks. The titles published in spring 1955 were drawn entirely from the regular Modern Library. Many of the later additions were taken from the Random House backlist. Modern Library Paperbacks never achieved the stature of Anchor Books or Knopf’s Vintage Books. The dream of publishing Penguin Books in the United States was never fully laid to rest until 1960 when Cerf and Klopfer acquired Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. At that point Modern Library Paperbacks was phased out and Vintage Books became the Random House quality paperback line.


The following checklist and dating key helps identify first printings of Modern Library Paperbacks. Titles published in 1955 had sewn bindings; subsequent titles (except P52) were perfect bound. Lists of titles in volumes published through spring 1959 (except P14 which has no list) are the easiest way to distinguish first printings from later printings. Titles published between fall 1959 and 1960, as far as I am aware, only had one Modern Library Paperback printing. Corrections and emendations are welcomed.


Spring 1955

Sewn binding; numerical list through P10; all titles published at 95 cents.


P1.       Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  Crime and Punishment.  Translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett; with an introduction by Ernest J. Simmons.  Pp. xix, 531.


P2.       Seven Famous Greek Plays.  Edited, with introductions, by Whitney J. Oates and Eugene O’Neill, Jr.  Pp. xxv, 446.


P3.       Dante.  The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri.  The Carlyle-Wicksteed translation; introduction by the late C. H. Grandgent; bibliography by Ernest H. Wilkins.  Pp. xxi, 625.


P4.       Great Modern Short Stories: An Anthology of Twelve Famous Stories and Novelettes.  Selected, and with a foreword and bibliographical notes, by Bennett A. Cerf.  Pp. viii, 480.


P5.       Plato.  Plato’s The Republic.  Translated into English by B. Jowett.  Pp. 397.


P6a.     William Faulkner.  The Sound and the Fury & As I Lay Dying.  With a new appendix as a foreword by the author.  Pp. 532.  Superseded spring 1959 by P6b.


P6b.     William Faulkner.  The Sound and the Fury.  With a new appendix as a foreword by the author.  Pp. 336.  Published spring 1959.


P7.       Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  The Brothers Karamazov.  Translated by Constance Garnett; introduction by Marc Slonim.  Pp. xxiv, 939.


P8.       Henry Fielding.  The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling.  Introduction by George Sherburn.  Pp. xvi, 885.


P9.       William Makepeace Thackerary.  Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero.  Introduction by Joseph Warren Beach.  Pp. xxx, 730.


P10a.   Jonathan Swift.  Gulliver’s Travels, A Tale of a Tub, The Battle of the Books.  Introduction by Robert B. Heilman. Pp. xxix, 550.  Superseded spring 1959 by P10b.


P10b.   Jonathan Swift.  Gulliver’s Travels and Other Writings.  With an introduction and commentaries by Ricardo Quintana.  Pp. xxv, 550.  Published spring 1959.


The back covers of the first 10 titles announced 18 forthcoming titles, all of which (like the first 10) were from the regular ML. Someone at Random House must have decided that putting regular ML titles into Modern Library Paperbacks would undermine sales of the regular series. The 18 titles announced as forthcoming never appeared in Modern Library Paperbacks. The only subsequently added title that was also in print in the regular ML was P16, Of Human Bondage, but the Modern Library Paperback had a substantial introduction and was designated as a “text edition.”


Fall 1955

Sewn binding; numerical list through P15; all titles published at 95 cents.


P11.     Sigmund Freud.  Leonardo da Vinci: A Study in Psychosexuality.  Authorized translation by A. A. Brill.  Pp. xxxviii, 122; 4 pp. of plates.


P12.     Gertrude Stein.  The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.  Pp. 252.


P13.     Pär Lagerkvist.  Barabbas.  Translated by Alan Blair; with a preface by Lucien Maury and a letter by André Gide.  Pp. xii, 180.


P14.     Truman Capote.  Other Voices, Other Rooms.  Pp. 231.  Note: Halma photo of the author appears on the back cover instead of a list of titles. The first printing is sewn and has three blank pages at the end; subsequent printings are perfect bound and some or all of them include an American College Dictionary ad at the end.


P15.     André Malraux.  The Royal Way.  Translated by Stuart Gilbert.  Pp. 250.


Spring 1956

Perfect bound; numerical list through P19; all titles published at 95 cents except as noted.


P16.     W. Somerset Maugham.  Of Human Bondage. With an introduction by Richard A. Cordell.  Text ed.  Pp. xx, 760;4 pp. of plates.  $1.25.


P17.     James Gould Cozzens.  S.S. San Pedro and Castaway.  Pp. 182.


P18.     William Faulkner.  The Hamlet.  Pp. 373.


P19.     Christopher Isherwood.  Pater Violet.  Pp. 186.


Fall 1956

Perfect bound; numerical list through P24; all titles published at 95 cents.


P20.     H. M. Tomlinson.  The Sea and the Jungle.  Pp. 332.


P21.     Famous Ghost Stories.  Compiled and with an introductory note by Bennett Cerf.  Pp. xi, 361.


P22.     William Styron.  The Long March.  Pp. 120.  Note: Not a reprint; originally published in ML Paperbacks.  The first printing is the most valuable of all ML Paperbacks.


P23.     J. K. Huysmans. Against the Grain. Pp. xxiii, 230.


P24.     Leo Stein.  Appreciation: Painting, Poetry and Prose.  Pp. xiii, 175.


Spring 1957

Perfect bound; numerical list through P29; all titles published at 95 cents.


P25.     Geoffrey Chaucer.  Troilus and Cressida.  Rendered into modern English verse by George Philip Krapp.  Pp. 309.


P26.     St. Clair McKelway.  True Tales from the Annals of Crime and Rascality.  Pp. xii, 339.


P27.     Nancy Mitford.  The Pursuit of Love: A Novel.  Pp. 247.


P28.     Eugene O’Neill.  The Iceman Cometh: A Play.  Pp. viii, 260.


P29.     Leo Tolstoy.  The Kreutzer Sonata.  In a translation newly revised by Isai Kamen.  Pp. 119.


Fall 1957

Perfect bound; numerical list through P34; all titles published at 95 cents.


P30.     Robert Penn Warren.  Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South.  Pp. 115.


P31.     Walter Van Tilburg Clark.  The Ox-Bow Incident.  Pp. 309.


P32.     John O’Hara.  Butterfield 8: A Novel.  Pp. 310.


P33.     Alexander Pushkin.  The Captain’s Daughter and Other Great Stories.  Pp. 310.


P34.     André Gide.  If It Die: An Autobiography.  Translated by Dorothy Bussy.  Pp. 310.


Spring 1958

Perfect bound; alphabetical list through P39; all titles published at 95 cents.


P35.     Truman Capote.  The Muses Are Heard: An Account.  Pp. 182.  Note: List at end of volume instead of back cover.


P36.     William Faulkner.  Three Famous Short Novels: Spotted Horses, Old Man, The Bear.  Pp. 316.


P37.     Jonathan Norton Leonard.  Flight into Space: The Facts, Fancies and Philosophy.  [Rev. ed.]  Pp. vi, 306.  Note: The revised edition is original to ML Paperbacks.


P38.     Alfred Hooper.  Makers of Mathematics.  Pp. ix, 402.  Note: Reprinted spring 1959 at $1.25.


P39.     Herbert Kühn.  On the Track of Prehistoric Man.  Translated from the German by Alan Houghton Brodrick.  Pp. x, 211.


Fall 1958

Perfect bound; alphabetical list through P44; all titles published at 95 cents.


P40.     Leonid Andreyev.  The Seven That Were Hanged and Other Stories.  Pp. 249.


P41.     Evelyn Waugh.  The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy.  Pp. 164.


P42.     Gertrude Stein.  Three Lives.  Pp. 279.


P43.     Honor Tracy.  The Straight and Narrow Path.  Pp. 245.


P44.     Joseph Conrad.  Three Great Tales.  Pp. xi, 307.


Spring 1959

Perfect bound; alphabetical list through P50 and titles published at 95 cents except as noted.


P45.     James Joyce.  James Joyce’s Ulysses in Nighttown.  Dramatized and transposed by Marjorie Barkentin under the supervision of Padraic Colum.  Pp. 119.  Note: List through P44.


P46.     Flanders Dunbar, M.D.  Your Child’s Mind and Body: A Practical Guide for Parents.  Pp. xii, 324.


P47.     Loren Eiseley.  The Immense Journey.  Pp. 210.  c1957.


P48.     W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood.  Two Great Plays: The Dog beneath the Skin, The Ascent of F6.  Pp. 185.


P49.     S. N. Behrman.  Duveen.  Illustrations by Saul Steinberg.  Pp. 176.


P50.     Great Russian Stories.  Selected by Isai Kamen.  Pp. 311.  $1.25.


P6b.     William Faulkner.  The Sound and the Fury.  With a new appendix as a foreword by the author.  Pp. 336.


P10b.   Jonathan Swift.  Gulliver’s Travels and Other Writings.  With an introduction and commentaries by Ricardo Quintana.  Pp. xxv, 550.


Fall 1959

Perfect bound except as noted; no lists; published prices as noted.


P51.     Robert W. Buchheim and the Staff of the Rand Corporation.  Space Handbook: Astronautics and Its Applications.  Pp. xvi, 330.  $1.25.


P52.     Pablo Picasso.  A Suite of 180 Drawings: November, 28, 1952–February, 3, 1954.  Preface by Tériade.  Picasso and the Human Comedy by Michel Leiris.  With an appreciation by Rebecca West.  Spine title: Picasso and the Human Comedy.  Pp. xi, 30 pp.; [94] leaves of plates.  First Printing “The original of this book constituted the double number 29/30 of VERVE, published in Paris, France, September 15, 1954.”  $1.95; price scraped off cover in many copies examined.  Note: The first printing measures 7¼ x 5⅜ inches, is printed on excellent paper, and has a sewn binding.


[2nd printing]  Pp. xii, 35 pp.; [88] leaves if plates.  $1.45.  Note: The second printing measures 7¼ x 4⅜ inches (the standard Modern Library Paperback format), is printed on very poor paper, and is perfect bound.  The text is reset and the plates are reduced in size to fit the smaller format, but no plates are omitted.


P53.     E. M. W. Tillyard.  The Elizabethan World Picture.  Pp. ix, 116.  95 cents.


P54.     The Apocrypha.  An American translation by Edgar J. Goodspeed; with an introduction by Moses Hadas.  Pp. xxvi, 493.  $1.45.


P55.     Thomas S. Kuhn.  The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought.  Pp. xx, 297.  $1.25.


P56.     Eugene O’Neill.  Three Plays of Eugene O’Neill: Desire under the Elms, Strange Interlude, Mourning Becomes Electra.  Pp. 376.  $1.45.


P57.     Mai-mai Sze.  The Way of Chinese Painting: Its Ideas and Technique.  With Selections from the Seventeenth-Century Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting.  Pp. xxi, 456.  $1.45.  Note: The subtitle appears on the cover as Its Ideas and Techniques.


P58.     La Rochefoucauld.  The Maxims of La Rochefoucauld.  Translated by Louis Kronenberger.  Pp. 158.  “FIRST PRINTING”  95 cents.


P59.     J. Bronowski.  The Common Sense of Science.  Pp. 152.  “First Printing”  95 cents.


Spring 1960

Perfect bound; no lists; published prices as noted.


P60.     An Anthology of Russian Literature in the Soviet Period from Gorki to Pasternak.  Edited and translated by Bernard Guilbert Guerney.  Pp. xxv, 452.  “First Printing”  $1.45.


[P61]   Ivan Turgenev.  Fathers and Sons.  Note: Announced as ML Paperback P61 but published in Vintage Books.


P62.     Norman O. Brown.  Life against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History.  Pp. xiv, 366.  “First Printing”  $1.25.


P63.     Bernard Malamud.  The Magic Barrel.  Pp. 214.  “First Printing”  95 cents.


P64.     Patrick Cruttwell.  The Shakespearean Moment and Its Place in the Poetry of the 17th Century.  Pp. xiv, 262.  95 cents.


P65.     John Chadwick.  The Decipherment of Linear B.  Pp. xii, 157.  “First Printing”  95 cents.


P66.     Confucius. The Analects of Confucius.  Translated and annotated by Arthur Waley.  Pp. 257.  “First Printing”  95 cents.


P67.     Sigmund Freud.  Totem and Taboo: Resemblances between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics.  Authorized translation with an introduction by A. A. Brill.  Pp. xv, 207.  “First Printing”  95 cents.


P68.     W. I. B. Beveridge.  The Art of Scientific Investigation.  Rev. ed.  Pp. xiv, 239.  “First Printing”  95 cents.


[P69]   Vladimir Nabokov.  The Song of Igor’s Campaign.  Note: Announced as ML Paperback P69 but published in Vintage Books.


            John Reed.  Ten Days That Shook the World.  Note: Announced as a ML Paperback but published in Vintage Books.