Oxford World's Classics

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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 Classics and the Modern Library. There are over 700 titles in the series.[citation needed]


The Oxford World's Classics were classed as “the most famous works of the English Language”[1] and many volumes contain introductions by distinguished authors. The books were marketed as a cheap and accessible series for the general public to read some of the greatest literature works:

“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.”[2]

Like its main competitor Penguin, all titles come with scholarly addendum - that is, an introduction, a chronology, further reading, explanatory notes, and a glossary in some titles.


Until the late 1990s, they were issued as 'The World's Classics'; they were then reissued under the new imprint. Most titles were reissued with the new design in the 2000s and 2010s (typically 10 years after their first publication date in the Oxford World's Classics imprint). The basic red and white scheme from the 1990s rebranding has been retained.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dust Jacket Leaflet (Robbery Under Arms (1949) Oxford University Press: London).
  2. ^ Dust Jacket Leaflet (Rolf, Boldrewood (1949) Robbery Under Arms Oxford University Press: London).

External links[edit]