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The Nelson Lee Library

The Nelson Lee library launched on 12th June 1915 and Brooks immediately submitted stories for this publication and within a short period of time found himself writing all the stories. In issue 112 Nelson lee investigated a case at St Frank's school (Named after his wife to be Frances) and the action moved there when he stayed on as a Housemaster. The Nelson Lee Library ran until 1933 before being amalgamated with the Gem.

For the 1952 Collectors Digest annual Bob Blythe produced an article listing all the stories from the Nelson Lee series 1 and 2 together with a brief description of the various series. You can read it here.

Series 1 (More commonly referred to as the "old Series") ran from 12th June 1915 until 24th April 1926, a total of 568 issues. A number of issues are available for download, click here for details and download links.

Series 2 (More commonly referred to as the "new series") ran from 1st May 1926 until 18th January 1930, a total of 194 issues. A number of issues are available for download, click here for details and download links.

Series 3 (More commonly known as the "second new series") ran from 25th January 1930 until 18th February 1933, a total of 161 issues. A number of issues are available for download, click here for details and download links.

Series 4 (More commonly known as the "third new series") ran from 25th February 1933 until 12th August 1933. In this series the AP reprinted a number of issues from the old series hoping to emulate the success of the Gem when they followed the same reprint policy. Unfortunately this wasn't to be and the Nelson Lee Library merged with the Gem after only 33 issues. You can find the list of stories here.  A number of issues are available for download from the Nelson Lee section of the Greyfriars Index.

The Nelson Lee Library lists are taken from The Nelson Lee Library and Bibliography of the Writings of Brooks, Edwy Searles by Robert C. Blythe, revised by Mark Caldicott in 1995. My thanks to Mark for allowing me to reproduce data from his website.


The Nelson Lee Preservation Project

The Nelson Lee lending library was set up in the 1950s by the late Bob Blyth and operated by him during meetings of the London Old Boys Book Club. There was also a postal service. After Bobs death the service was taken over by Bill Bradford who continued to run the library from his home in Ealing and at LOBBC meetings at various venues in the London area. Ill health and the loss of Thelma eventually caused Bill to pass the library on to Roy Parsons - who moved the library to his home. After this, the library passed onto the current librarian Phil Griffiths.

Interest in the library had been falling away progressively but the postal library was still busy. But with an ageing collection, rising postal charges and items going missing, the idea of transferring the library to an electronic format by photographing the pages and storing the results on computer, was explored. The results were variable but it was possible to print out some issues and send them to borrowers in place of the original volumes since the print-outs were easier to read, they were very happy!  We strongly believe that the Nelson Lee library MUST be preserved but after such a long time the volumes will simply fall apart if they continue to be lent out.

The photographing and storing of so many issues is a lengthy process. We have started upon the process of preservation and will place the copies produced on the Friardale site. The aim is to keep on until the whole collection is archived. In the first instance we will produce a copy of the scanned image as a pdf document, but hope eventually to convert each of the stories to a Word document using an OCR process.

The London Old Boys Book Club has a website of their own. You can access it here.

Phil Griffiths ESB librarian London Old Boys Book Club


Keith Hatton