We’ve looked at some of the great book covers from the New English Library’s collection in a previous post including G.F Newman’s compellingly titled ‘You Nice Bastard’ sequel to the perhaps even more impressively named (and best-selling at the time) ‘Sir, You Bastard’ and now the time has come to take a glance at the history of this cult imprint noted for its books on skinheads, Hell’s Angels and of course bent coppers.
New English Library was formed in 1961 with the acquisition of two smaller British paperback publishing companies, Ace Books Ltd and Four Square Books Ltd by the Los Angeles based Times Mirror Company (owners of the L.A. Times). The previous year they had set up the New American Library with its focus on affordable paperback reprints of classic works alongside popular and pulp fiction.
New English Library’s heyday was in the early 1970s when they were churning out what were deemed by some as low-brow, hack written novels but they have also published such luminaries as Stephen King, Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss and James Herbert. In 1981 NEL was sold to Hodder & Stoughton and then 12 years later became part of the newly merged Hodder Headline. They continued ploughing their popular pulp fiction paperback furrow until 2004 when their parent company became part of the Hachette Livre group and a single Hodder & Stoughton paperback brand was created and the New English Library name was confined to the annals of history.
New English Library may be no more but its memory still lives on and here we take a look at some of the less obvious titles from their time at the top of the paperback publishing world.