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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Rylee Ltd.

A recent post on Norman Pett's Jane listed a Birmingham company called Rylee Ltd. amongst his publishers. A little investigating turns up the fact that Rylee Ltd. began as a commericial photographers, possibly in around 1932-33, based at Sheepcote Street, Edgbaston, Birmingham 15.

Shortly after the end of World War II, they expanded their business into publicity, printing and publishing. As well as publishing Norman Pett's Jane's Journal in 1946, their main early endevour appears to be the magazine New Plays Quarterly, which ran from 1947 to 1965. Other early titles include The Thesis Library series of non-fiction books, which included:

A Handbook of Self-Analysis by Theodore Faithfull. London, Rylee, 1948.
Letters to Margaret: A Simple Introduction to Psychology by Theodore Faithfull. London, Rylee, 1948.
The Value of Neurosis by C. Wilfred Wall. London, Rylee, 1948.
Religion and Psychotherapy: A Plea for Co-operation [3rd edition] by A. Graham Ikin. London, Rylee [Published for the British Federation of Psychologists], Dec 1948.
A Handbook of Sex Education by Theodore Faithfull. London & Birmingham, Rylee, 1950 [1951].

Rylee (who maintained an office in London, hence the given place of publication for many of their books) also published slim illustrated books such as Modern Locomotives (1948) and Objects to Paint and Trace (c.1949), alongside various plays by Denis Ogden, Gordon Glennon, Eardley Wedlake, Caswell Garth, Ivan Butler, William Dinner & William Morum, Muriel Box (and one with Sydney Box), Darrell Wilde, I. O. Evans, etc.

They also began publishing novels with Angela Darling by Gordon Grinstead (1949), but were primarily children's book publishers, authors in the early 1950s including W. Lindsay Cable, Rita Coatts, Leslie Frewin and A. Harcourt Burrage.

The company then seems to run out of steam , but continued publishing books for young children. In the mid-1960s, they published a range of classics (Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, What Katy Did, What Katy Did Next, Black Beauty, etc.).

Rylee Ltd. moved to 27 Augustus Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham 15 around 1948 anda a second company, Rylee & Willington Ltd., of the same address, was launched as advertising and publicity consultants around 1953, which became Rylee (Advertising) Ltd. in around 1955 but had disappeared by 1957. Another company, Rylee Photography sprang up in around 1961 and ran alongside Rylee Ltd. at the same address in Augustus Road until 1968.

I believe the business was then sold as, in 1969, the Pageant Books series — published by Rylee at 161 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4 — was launched, featuring translations of Italian books such as Animals of the Forest by Mina Ripani, The Living Sea by Giuseppe Zanini, Legends from the South Seas by Elena S. Tessadri and Far West by Pacifico Fiori — mostly translated from titles published by Milan-based publisher Signorelli.

Their last traced title, Switzerland and Liechenstein by John & Moira Hawkes, was published in 1973.

(* More an excuse to run some more Janeiana  than serious research! Still, someone might find it useful. My thanks to Derek Wilson for the scans of the Jane Calendar advert. The 1947 calendar was published by Rylee, but I believe the 1948 calendar wasn't, but was distributed by Pett to friends at Christmas.)


  1. Hello, I see you have my original photo of the 1948 Jane Calendar, this was a photo I sent to the Daily Mirror, I have the very original 1948 calendar that was given to me in the early 1980's by a friend who was a very good friend of Norman Pett and his wife, the calendar is signed by Norman and his wife, the calendar was given to their friend in 1948.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Were you employed by Rylee? It would be interesting to learn more about them... I'm guessing there must have been a Mr. Rylee involved somewhere.