William Collins, Sons & Co., publisher of the White Circle series of paperbacks, had its roots in Glasgow in the 19th Century as a printer of bibles. It moved into publishing, specialising to start with in religious and educational books, but it eventually found success in fiction and particularly in crime fiction. The Collins Crime Club was launched in 1930, publishing many of the most popular and most influential crime authors of the twentieth century, including Agatha Christie. The business still exists as part of the HarperCollins publishing group.
Collins was closely involved in the success of the continental Albatross Books, which stimulated the creation of Penguin Books in 1935, launching the paperback revolution in the UK. The White Circle series of UK paperbacks followed a few months later, in 1936, and over the next 20 years was one of the most persistent of Penguin’s competitors.
During the Second World War, Collins launched White Circle series in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Ceylon as well as a long series of Services Editions for the British armed forces. The blog explores various aspects of all these series, which are generally little known and little researched. Copies of the books are often rare, with only a handful of collectors interested in them, and in some cases there are no known copies remaining.
There are links below to some blog posts exploring the history of Collins and particularly the White Circle Editions: