Oxford World's Classics

Three different cover designs of the Oxford World's Classics series. From left to right: 1987, 1993, 2009.
The cover of Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists in the Oxford World's Classics series.

Oxford World's Classics is an imprint of Oxford University Press. First established in 1901 by Grant Richards and purchased by the Oxford University Press in 1906, this imprint publishes primarily dramatic and classic literature for students and the general public. Its competitors include Penguin Classics, Everyman's Library and the Modern Library. Most titles include critical apparatus - usually, an introduction, bibliography, chronology, and explanatory notes - as is the case with Penguin Classics.[1]


Grant Richards

The World's Classics imprint was created by London publisher Grant Richards in 1901.[2] Richards had an 'ambitious publishing programme',[2] and this ambition led to the liquidation of Grant Richards in 1905. Henry Frowde, manager of the Oxford University Press, purchased the series in October 1905.

The Oxford World's Classics were classed as “the most famous works of the English Language”[3] and many volumes containdc introductions by distinguished authors, viz. T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf, amongst others.[4] The books were marketed as a cheap and accessible series for the general public to read some of the greatest works of literature:

“Cheaply and in little shelf space, the general reader can build up a library of those books, which, having become part of himself, he wishes now to make a part of his home.”[5]


World's Classics were first published as 'pocket-sized hardbacks'.[4] Currently, they are published in paperback, with selected titles in hardback.

Oxford World's Classics

The World's Classics series was relaunched in 1998 as Oxford World's Classics.[6] A decade later, a second relaunch followed with a new design for all titles, which retained the basic red and white design scheme.[7]

See also


  1. "Oxford World's Classics". Oxford University Press. Oxford University Press.
  2. 1 2 Louis, William (2013). History of Oxford University Press: Volume III: 1896 to 1970. Oxford University Press. p. 141. ISBN 9780199568406.
  3. Dust Jacket Leaflet (Robbery Under Arms (1949) Oxford University Press: London).
  4. 1 2 Oxford World's Classics blurb
  5. Dust Jacket Leaflet (Rolf, Boldrewood (1949) Robbery Under Arms Oxford University Press: London).
  6. Drabble, Margaret (2000). The Oxford Companion to English Literature (6th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 1117.
  7. "Relaunching the Oxford World's Classics". OUP Blog.

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