All Sorts and Conditions of Men: An Impossible Story





de Beer Eb 1886 B


London: Chatto & Windus


The striking cover to the Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott has a stamped centrepiece decoration containing an enamelled image of a vase and flowers. The use of cover designs like this diminished as publishers adopted the cheaper plain cloth covered boards and relied more heavily on the eye-catching components of the book jacket. Ward and Lock began publishing in 1854, and they developed a strong poetry line, reprinting old favourites such as William Cowper in uniform, easily recognisable, gilt-edged, colourful case-bound bindings. These two elaborate publisher’s bindings sit beside a Yellowback, the nickname for cheap, commercial paperbacks published by firms such as Routledge and Ward and Lock, and sold through W. H. Smith’s railway station bookstalls. Created by Edmund Evans about 1849, they featured a basic colour (usually yellow) as the background for the illustration. Yellowbacks also included hardbacks, like Besant’s All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1886).


Cab 16 All Sorts  back cover.jpg


Walter Besant, “All Sorts and Conditions of Men: An Impossible Story,” | OUR Heritage, accessed February 4, 2023,