I’m lucky to be a member of Legend 100 with Legend Press and so I get to find out all about, and read, a range of brilliant new books from this publisher. Today, however, I’m delighted to be going back in time with Legend and revisiting some fabulous classics that they have just released with stunning new covers.
The first seven titles were launched on 1st June 2017, with further titles to be released in an expanded list in 2018 and 2019. The first collection comprises: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, The Railway Children by E Nesbit and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
You’ll find more details about these classics and buy links here.
Not only am I reviewing two of the seven in the series, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, but I was lucky enough to be able to interview Legend Press’s MD Tom Chalmers all about the series.
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on the wild Dartmouth Moors with the footprints of a giant hound nearby and the murder is blamed on a family curse. It is left to Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson to solve the mystery of the legend of the supernatural and gruesome hound before Sir Charles’s heir comes to similarly painful end.
Widely considered the finest Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles has become the defining book of the great detective and millions have read with enjoyment and horror the story of Holmes, Watson and the infamous hound.
The Importance of Being Ernest
The final comic or dramatic work from undisputed genius Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is his most enduring popular play and a must-read for any Wilde fan.
A farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personæ to escape burdensome social obligations, the play is an unforgettable satire of Victorian ways.
Wilde’s notoriety caused the play, despite its early success, to be closed after 86 performances. This latest edition allows you to discover or enjoy once again the writing of one of history’s great comedy and drama writers.
My Review of Legend Classics
I’m not going to say anything much about the stories themselves in The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Importance of Being Ernest because everyone knows them well, although I have to admit I hadn’t actually read the play script of The Importance of Being Ernest before and I found it just as funny on the page as I have on the screen.
What I do want to comment on is the lovely quality of these books. Both books have absolutely stunning colours that are vibrant and eye catching so that they would grace any bookshelf. The flyleaf of each has an evocative pen and ink drawing that relates to the story and there are potted and accessible biographies of the authors.
The books are printed on cream paper with print that I found perfect for someone like me with sight difficulties, making them comfortable to read. I really liked the way in which there is no blurb in the conventional sense – as I say, we all know the stories – but just a couple of brief quotations on the back covers that convey the essence of the stories.
I think these editions of well loved stories will make perfect gifts for those adults who already know them well and for a whole generation of new readers. I recommend getting them all!
An Interview with MD Tom Chalmers
Thanks so much for agreeing to tell me more about this exciting series Tom. I normally associate Legend Press with a wide range of new authors. What made you decide to return to these famous classics?
We ran a promotion several years ago with Virgin Trains, giving away books across their stations, called ‘Lose Yourself in a Book’. Then last year we discussed how books have always been a great escape and came up with the idea of beautifully repackaging some of the modern classics and bringing them to readers for the first time or to enjoy them once again.
The series begins with seven quite eclectic books. Why this particular selection?
We researched the market to find books that haven’t recently been included in mainstream classic series or some that may have been overlooked – for instance there are hundreds of editions of The Portrait of Dorian Gray but far fewer of The Importance of Being Ernest. It was originally going to be adult fiction only but as we came across some classic children’s novels we couldn’t help but include them in as well to give the series as diverse range as possible.
You’re marketing the books as recapturing an exciting nostalgia. However, the cover images are very modern and almost impressionistic. How do you reconcile modernity and nostalgia?
Nostalgia may be remembering the past but it is a feeling in the present and we felt passionately that these books would be as enjoyable and rewarding to today’s reader as they would for a reader at any moment since they were originally published. We therefore wanted to give a modern feel to a classic book to emphasise its timeless nature as well as its appeal and relevance today.
How did you come to work with Anna Morrison on the cover designs?
Anna is a fantastic designer and she has designed the covers of a number of our recent novels and we have been delighted with what she has produced. We were therefore really pleased that she produced the covers for this series and believe she has done a fantastic job – in fact the stunning books currently have pride of place across our office bookshelves!
You’re having a big high street campaign. Where can readers buy these books?
They full series is currently being promoted by WHSmith at their travel branches – with travellers looking for a book to lose themselves in on their journey we thought it would be a perfect fit for the fantastic books. They are also available widely at other outlets and online.
What plans have you to extend the series in the future?
We are delighted with the initial reaction to Legend Classics and already plans are underway to extend the series next year, possibly to ten books. No doubt there will be a long debate over the selection but with so many fantastic modern classic novels, some of which haven’t been included in recent classic series, we are looking forward to bringing many more to today’s reader.
I wish you every success with these Legend Classics – I think they are collectables for the future.
About Legend Press
Legend Press is an independent publishing company set-up in 2005 by then 25-year-old Tom Chalmers and has been shortlisted for numerous awards. Backed by an international sales, licensing and acquisitions network, it now publishes around 30 titles per year focused on literary, women’s, historical and crime fiction.
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