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Ernest Benn Limited

Ernest Benn Limited
FounderSir John Benn
Defunct1987 Edit this on Wikidata
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Publication typesBooks, magazines

Ernest Benn Limited was a British publishing house.

Sir John Benn

Founded by Sir John Benn as Benn Brothers in 1880, it started as the publisher of the trade journal, The Cabinet Maker.[1]

Ernest Benn

After Sir John was elected to Parliament in 1892, he passed control of the firm to his eldest son Ernest, who became managing director and started publishing more trade journals, such as Gas World, the Fruit Grower and the Electrician, as well as "technical books for each specialized public".[2] In 1923, Ernest changed the name of the firm to Ernest Benn Limited.[1] However, the name 'Benn Brothers' was subsequently revived with the formation of Benn Brothers plc.[3]

Benn hired Victor Gollancz in 1921.[4] Gollancz published a very successful series of art books. He later recruited the writers Edith Nesbit, Robert W. Service and H. G. Wells.[citation needed]

Thanks to Gollancz's gifts as a publisher, the company's turnover increased 100-fold in seven years. But Benn was unwilling to cede control of the company to him. Moreover, Benn had moved to the political right and Gollancz to the left. Gollancz left the firm in 1927 to form his own firm, Victor Gollancz Limited.[5]

The firm published a number of books for children and young people, including The Story of the Amulet (1927) by E. Nesbit, Moominsummer Madness (1955) by Tove Jansson, Donkey Days (1977) by Helen Cresswell, and Sybil and the Blue Rabbit (1979) by Jane Johnson.[6]

Book series

In addition to individual books, Ernest Benn Limited was known for a number of series:

  • Affirmations: God in the Modern World[7]
  • The American Library[8]
  • Benn's Augustan Books of Poetry[9]
  • Benn's Essex Library[10]
  • Benn's Fishing Handbooks
  • Benn's Twentieth Century Histories[11]
  • Benn's World Histories[12]
  • Benn's Yellow Books[13]
  • The Blue Guides – travel guides (previously published by Muirhead)
  • The Bouverie Library[14]
  • Chats Series: Practical Handbooks for Collectors[15] (originally published as Unwin's Chat Series)
  • Chemical Engineering Library[16]
  • Contemporary British Artists[17]
  • Contemporary British Dramatists[18]
  • Curiosities of Politics[19]
  • Drawings of the Great Masters[20]
  • A History of Seafaring
  • A History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century[21]
  • Inner Ring Books[22]
  • Inner Ring Hipsters[23]
  • Instruments of the Orchestra[24] (jointly published with W. W. Norton & Company, New York)
  • Kai Khosru Monographs on Eastern Art[25] (jointly published with Frederick A. Stokes Co., New York)
  • Leaders of Philosophy[26]
  • A Literary History of Spain (jointly published with Barnes & Noble)
  • The Little Library[27]
  • Mermaid Critical Commentaries[28]
  • Mermaid Series[29] – reprints of English Elizabethan, Jacobean and Restoration plays
  • Modern Finance Series[30]
  • The Modern Knowledge Library[31]
  • The Modern World: A Survey of Historical Forces[32]
  • Nations of the Modern World (jointly published with Frederick A. Praeger, Inc.)[33]
  • The New Mermaids – new version of Benn's Mermaid Series[34]
  • New Ninepenny Novels[35]
  • Oil & Colour Chemistry Monographs[36] (jointly published with D. Van Nostrand Company, New York)
  • The Players' Shakespeare[37]
  • The Resources of the Empire Series[38]
  • Self and Society Booklets[39]
  • Sixpenny Library[40] – early paperback educational series[41]
  • Sixpenny Poets[42][43]
  • Stead's Poets, begun by W. T. Stead in 1895 and re-issued by Benn from  ?–1926[44][45]
  • Stories of the Commonwealth Series[46]
  • Tolley Tax Guides[47]
  • Trout and Salmon Books[48]
  • University College, London: Monographs on English Mediæval Art[49]


Ernest Benn Ltd, along with Benn Brothers plc and the other members of the Benn Group of Companies, was taken over by the Extel Group in June 1983.[50][51] Extel was taken over by United Newspapers in 1987.[50][52]


  1. ^ a b "John Benn", Spartacus Educational
  2. ^ Ruth Dudley Edwards, Victor Gollancz: A Biography, Faber & Faber, 2012 (Faber Finds) (ebook edition), chapter 7. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  3. ^ Benn Group of Companies Staff Handbook (1984)
  4. ^ Ruth Dudley Edwards, Victor Gollancz: A Biography, Faber & Faber, 2012 (Faber Finds) (ebook edition), chapter 6. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  5. ^ Rubin, Merle. "The story of Britain's colorful, contradictory publisher Gollancz". The Christian Science Monitor.
  6. ^ Ernest Benn Limited (London and Tonbridge), Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  7. ^ Affirmations. God in the modern world. (A series edited by Dr. P. Dearmer.), Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  8. ^ The American Library, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  9. ^ se:The Augustan Books of Poetry, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  10. ^ Essex Library (Ernest Benn), Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  11. ^ se:Benn's Twentieth Century Histories, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  12. ^ Benn's World Histories, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  13. ^ se: Benn's Yellow Books, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  14. ^ se:The Bouverie Library, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  15. ^ "Chats Series" + Ernest Benn, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  16. ^ The Chemical engineering library : second series, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  17. ^ "Contemporary Artists", The Queenslander, 26 July 1924, p. 3. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Contemporary British Dramatists" Ernest Benn, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  19. ^ Curiosities of politics : a series of monographs on remarkable personalities of the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  20. ^ "Drawings of the Great Masters" Ernest Benn, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  21. ^ se:A History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  22. ^ se:Inner Ring Books, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  23. ^ se:Inner Ring Hipsters, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  24. ^ Instruments of the Orchestra, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  25. ^ se:Kai Khosru Monographs on Eastern Art, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  26. ^ Leaders of Philosophy (Ernest Benn) - Book Series List, Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  27. ^ "The Little Library" Ernest Benn, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  28. ^ Mermaid Critical Commentaries, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  29. ^ Mermaid Series, Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  30. ^ Karl Hellferich and Louis Infield; edited by T. E. Gregory, Money, London: Ernest Benn, 1927 (Modern Finance Series), Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  31. ^ "Modern knowledge library" + Benn, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  32. ^ The Modern World: A Survey of Historical Forces, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  33. ^ se:Nations of the Modern World, Retrieved 15 October 2023.
  34. ^ The New Mermaids (Ernest Benn) – Book Series List, Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  35. ^ "New Ninepenny Novels" Benn, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  36. ^ "Oil & Colour Chemistry Monographs" Benn, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  37. ^ The Player's Shakespeare, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  38. ^ The Resources of the Empire Series, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  39. ^ "Self and Society Booklets" (review), The Spectator, 2 February 1929, pp. 23-24. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  40. ^ Benn's Sixpenny Library (Ernest Benn Limited) – Book Series List, Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  41. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Web edition, 20 December 2012, s.v. Ernest John Pickstone Benn, 2nd Baronet
  42. ^ D. H. Lawrence, The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Cambridge University Press, 1989 (2002 paperback reprint), p. 626. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  43. ^ Sir Ernest John Pickstone Benn, 2nd Baronet, British publisher, Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  44. ^ "The Penny Poets (The Masterpiece Library: Series I) ("Review of Reviews Office"; Stead's Publishing House) – Book Series List". Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  45. ^ "Sally Wood-Lamont, "W.T. Stead's Books for the Bairns" | W.T. Stead Resource Site". Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  46. ^ "Stories of the Commonwealth Series" Benn, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  47. ^ Tingley, Kenneth Raymond (1989). Tolley's retirement relief. p. i. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  48. ^ Trout and Salmon Books, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  49. ^ se:University College, London. Monographs on English mediæval art, Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  50. ^ a b Eric L Harvey, A Short History of Tolley, p 4
  51. ^ "United leaves Benn to Extel". The Glasgow Herald. 20 May 1983. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  52. ^ Watts, Robert. "How family money embarrassed Hilary Benn". The Daily Telegraph.

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Ernest Benn Limited
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