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A book series is a sequence of
book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of v ...

book
s having certain characteristics in common that are formally identified together as a group. Book series can be organized in different ways, such as written by the same
author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or item ...

author
, or marketed as a group by their
publisher Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as book A ...

publisher
.


Publishers' reprint series

Reprint series of public domain fiction (and sometimes nonfiction) books appeared as early as the 18th century, with the series ''The Poets of Great Britain Complete from Chaucer to Churchill'' (founded by British publisher John Bell in 1777). In 1841 the German
Tauchnitz Tauchnitz was the name of a family of German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationali ...
publishing firm launched the ''Collection of British and American Authors'', a reprint series of inexpensive paperbound editions of both public domain and copyrighted fiction and nonfiction works. This book series was unique for paying living authors of the works published even though copyright protection did not exist between nations in the 19th century. Later British reprint series were to include the ''Routledge's Railway Library'' (
George Routledge George Routledge (23 September 1812 – 13 December 1888) was a British publisher, the founder of the publishing house Routledge. Early life He was born in Brampton, Carlisle, Cumbria, Brampton, Cumberland on 23 September 1812. Career Routledg ...
, 1848–99), the ''
Oxford World's Classics thumbnail, The cover of Giorgio Vasari's ''Lives of the Artists'' in the ''Oxford World's Classics'' series.">Lives_of_the_Artists.html" ;"title="Giorgio Vasari's ''Lives of the Artists">Giorgio Vasari's ''Lives of the Artists'' in the ''Oxford ...
'' (
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for fre ...

Oxford University Press
, from 1901), the ''
Everyman's Library Everyman's Library is a series of reprints of classic literature, primarily from the Western canon The Western canon is the body of high culture High may refer to: People with the name * High (surname)High is a surname. Notable people w ...
'' ( J. M. Dent, from 1906), the ''
Penguin Classics Penguin Classics is an imprint Imprint or imprinting may refer to: Entertainment * Imprint (TV series), ''Imprint'' (TV series), Canadian television series * Imprint (Masters of Horror), "Imprint" (''Masters of Horror''), episode of TV show ''Ma ...
'' (
Penguin Books Penguin Books was originally a British publishing house Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distr ...
, from 1945) and the '' Penguin English Library'' (from 1963). Reprint series were also published in the United States, including the ''
Modern Library The Modern Library is an American book publishing imprint Imprint or imprinting may refer to: Entertainment * Imprint (TV series), ''Imprint'' (TV series), Canadian television series * Imprint (Masters of Horror), "Imprint" (''Masters of Horror ...
'' (
Boni & Liveright Boni & Liveright (pronounced "BONE-eye" and "LIVE-right") is an American Publishing#Book publishing, trade book publisher established in 1917 in New York City by Albert Boni and Horace Liveright. Over the next sixteen years the firm, which cha ...
, from 1917), in Germany, including the ''Universal-Bibliothek'' (
Reclam Reclam Verlag is a Germany, German publishing house, established in Leipzig in 1828 by Anton Philipp Reclam (1807–1896).novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a written ...

novel
s which share common themes, characters, or settings, but where each novel has its own title and free-standing storyline, and can thus be read independently or out of sequence. A novel sequence contains story arcs or themes that cross over several books, rather than simply sharing one or more characters. Fictional series typically share a common
setting Setting may refer to: * A location (geography) where something is set * Set construction in theatrical scenery * Setting (narrative), the place and time in a work of narrative, especially fiction * Setting up to fail a manipulative technique to engi ...
,
story arc A story arc (also narrative arc) is an extended or continuing storyline in episodic storytelling media such as television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission ...
, set of
character Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Character'' (novel), a 1936 Dutch novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk * ''Characters'' (Theophrastus), a classical Greek set of character sketches attributed to Theophrastus M ...
s or
timeline A timeline is a display of a list of events in Chronology, chronological order. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with calendar date, dates paralleling it, and usually contemporaneous events. Timelines can use any ...
. They are common in
genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determi ...
, particularly
crime fiction Crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery, mystery novel, and police novel are terms used to describe narratives that centre on criminal acts and especially on the investigation, either by an amateur or a professional detective, of a seriou ...
,
adventure fiction Adventure An adventure is an exciting experience that is typically bold, sometimes risk In simple terms, risk is the possibility of something bad happening. Risk involves uncertainty Uncertainty refers to Epistemology, epistemic situatio ...
, and
speculative fiction Speculative fiction is a broad category of fiction encompassing genres with elements that do not exist in reality, recorded history, nature, or the present universe. Such fiction covers various themes in the context of supernatural The sup ...
, as well as in
children's literature Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are created for children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader. Children's ...

children's literature
. Some works in a series can stand alone—they can be read in any order, as each book makes few, if any, reference to past events, and the characters seldom, if ever, change. Many of these series books may be published in a numbered series. Examples of such series are works like
The Hardy Boys The Hardy Boys, brothers Frank Frank may refer to: People As a name * Frank (given name) * Frank (surname) Groups of people * A member of the medieval Germanic people, the Franks * Crusaders in medieval Middle Eastern history * Levantin ...
,
Nancy Drew Nancy Drew is a fictional character, a sleuth in an American mystery fiction, mystery series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer as the female counterpart to his Hardy Boys series. The character first appeared in 1930. The books are ghostwr ...
, and Nick Carter. Some series do have their characters go through changes, and make references to past events. Typically such series are published in the order of their internal chronology, so that the next book published follows the previous book. How much these changes matter will vary from series to series (and reader to reader). For some, it may be minor—characters might get engaged, change jobs, etc., but it does not affect the main storyline. Examples of this type include
Tony Hillerman Anthony Grove Hillerman (May 27, 1925 – October 26, 2008) was an American author of detective novels and nonfiction works best known for his mystery novels featuring Navajo Tribal Police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Several of his works ...
's
Jim Chee Jim Chee is one of two Navajo Tribal Police detectives in a series of Mystery fiction, mystery novels by Tony Hillerman. Unlike his superior Joe Leaphorn, the "Legendary Lieutenant", Chee is a staunch believer in traditional Navajo culture; indeed, ...
and
Joe Leaphorn Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is a fictional character In , a character is a or other being in a (such as a , , , , or ). The character may be entirely fictional or based on a real-life person, in which case the distinction of a "fictional" versu ...
books. In other series, the changes are major and the books must be read in order to be fully enjoyed. Examples of this type include the
Harry Potter ''Harry Potter'' is a series of seven fantasy literature, fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young Magician (fantasy), wizard, Harry Potter (character), Harry Potter, and his friends H ...

Harry Potter
series. There are some book series that are not really proper series, but more of a single work so large that it must be published over two or more books. Examples of this type include ''
The Lord of the Rings ''The Lord of the Rings'' is an Epic (genre), epic high-fantasy novel by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in Middle-earth, intended to be Earth at some distant time in the past, the story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 ...
'' volumes or the '' Dark Tower'' series by Stephen King. Some authors make it difficult to list their books in a numerical order when they do not release each work in its 'proper' order by the story's internal chronology. They might 'jump' back in time to early adventures of the characters, writing works that must be placed before or between previously published works. Thus, the books in a series are sometimes enumerated according to the internal chronology rather than in publication order, depending on the intended purpose for the list. Examples of this series include works from the ''
Chronicles of Narnia ''The Chronicles of Narnia'' is a series of fantasy novels by British author C. S. Lewis. Written by Lewis, illustrated by Pauline Baynes Pauline Diana Baynes (9 September 1922 – 1 August 2008) was an English people, English ill ...
'', where the fifth book published, ''
The Horse and His Boy ''The Horse and His Boy'' is a novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles David Geoffrey Bles (1886–1957) was a British publisher, with a reputation for spotting new talent. He started his eponymous publishing firm in Lond ...
'', is actually set during the time of the first book, and the sixth book published, ''
The Magician's Nephew ''The Magician's Nephew'' is a fantasy children's novel by C. S. Lewis, published in 1955 by The Bodley Head The Bodley Head is an English publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and ...
'' is actually set long before the first book. This was done intentionally by C. S. Lewis, a scholar of medieval literature. Medieval literature did not always tell a story chronologically.


Definitions

There is no useful, formal demarcation between novel sequences and multi-part novels. Novels that are related may or may not fall into a clear sequence. It is also debatable whether a
trilogy A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected and can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is ...
is long enough and whether its parts are discrete enough to qualify as a novel sequence. For example, the
Barchester Barsetshire is a fictional English county created by Anthony Trollope in the series of novels known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire. The county town and cathedral city is Barchester. Other towns in the novels include Silverbridge, Hogglestock and ...
novels of
Anthony Trollope Anthony Trollope (; 24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882) was an English novelist and civil servant of the Victorian era. Among his best-known works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, which revolves around th ...

Anthony Trollope
are only loosely related, although they contain a recurring cast of characters; his political novels about the Pallisers have a tighter connection and dynamic. A strict definition might exclude both.


History

The novel sequence was a product of the nineteenth century, with
James Fenimore Cooper James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851) was an American writer of the first half of the 19th century. His historical romances depicting colonist and Indigenous characters from the 17th to the 19th centuries created a ...

James Fenimore Cooper
's works appearing in the 1820s, and
Anthony Trollope Anthony Trollope (; 24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882) was an English novelist and civil servant of the Victorian era. Among his best-known works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, which revolves around th ...

Anthony Trollope
's Barchester books in the 1850s. In
French literature French literature () generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France Of the language ...
,
Honoré de Balzac Honoré de Balzac ( , more commonly , ; born Honoré Balzac;Jean-Louis Dega, La vie prodigieuse de Bernard-François Balssa, père d'Honoré de Balzac : Aux sources historiques de La Comédie humaine, Rodez, Subervie, 1998, 665 p. 20 May 1799& ...

Honoré de Balzac
's ambitious ''
La Comédie humaine ''La Comédie humaine'' (; English: ''The Human Comedy'') is Honoré de Balzac's 1829–48 roman-fleuve, multi-volume collection of interlinked novels and stories depicting French society in the period of the Bourbon Restoration in France, Rest ...
,'' a set of nearly 100 novels, novellas and short stories with some recurring characters, started to come together during the 1830s.
Émile Zola Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola (, also , ; 2 April 184029 September 1902) was a French novelist, journalist, playwright, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of Naturalism (literature), naturalism, and an important contributo ...

Émile Zola
's '' Rougon-Macquart'' cycle is a
family saga The family saga is a genre of literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. I ...
, a format that later became a popular fictional form, going beyond the conventional
three-volume novel The three-volume novel (sometimes three-decker or triple decker) was a standard form of publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. ...
. A ''roman-fleuve'' (French, literally "river-novel") is an extended sequence of novels of which the whole acts as a commentary for a society or an epoch, and which continually deals with a central character, community or a saga within a family. The river metaphor implies a steady, broad dynamic lending itself to a perspective. Each volume makes up a complete novel by itself, but the entire cycle exhibits unifying characteristics. The metaphor of the roman-fleuve was coined by
Romain Rolland Romain Rolland (; 29 January 1866 – 30 December 1944) was a French dramatist, novelist, essayist, art historian and mystic who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915 "as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production a ...

Romain Rolland
to describe his 10-volume cycle '' Jean-Christophe''. In the preface to the seventh volume, ''Dans la maison'' (1908/1909) he wrote: "When you see a man, do you ask yourself whether he is a novel or a poem? ... Jean-Christophe has always seemed to me to flow like a river; I have said as much from the first pages." The term has subsequently been applied to other French novel sequences, particularly of the years between the world wars, notably: *
Marcel Proust Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (; ; 10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) was a French novelist A novelist is an author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a ...

Marcel Proust
, '' À la recherche du temps perdu'' (1908–22) *
Georges Duhamel Georges Duhamel (; ; 30 June 1884 – 13 April 1966) was a French author, born in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated po ...
, '' Vie et aventures de Salavin'' (1920–32) and '' Chronique des Pasquier'' (1933–45) *
Roger Martin du Gard Roger Martin du Gard (; 23 March 1881 – 22 August 1958) was a French novelist, winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature. Biography Trained as a paleographer and archivist, he brought to his works a spirit of objectivity and a scrupulous r ...
, '' The Thibaults'' (1922–40) *
Jules Romains Jules Romains, born Louis Henri Jean Farigoule (26 August 1885 – 14 August 1972), was a French poet and writer and the founder of the Unanimism literary movement. His works include the play '' Knock ou le Triomphe de la médecine'', and a cycle ...

Jules Romains
, '' Les Hommes de bonne volonté'' (1932–47) *
Louis Aragon Louis Aragon (, , 3 October 1897 – 24 December 1982) was a French poet who was one of the leading voices of the surrealist Surrealism was a cultural movement A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines appro ...
, '' Cycle du monde réel'' (1933–51) *Jacques Chardonne, ''Les Destinées sentimentales'' (1934–36) The 19th-century predecessors may be distinguished as being rather "family sagas", as their stories are from the perspective of a single family, rather than society as a whole.
Marcel Proust Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (; ; 10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) was a French novelist A novelist is an author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a ...

Marcel Proust
's ''In Search of Lost Time, À la recherche du temps perdu'' has come to be regarded as a definitive ''roman fleuve''. Today, however, its seven volumes are generally considered to be a single novel. Proust's work was immensely influential, particularly on British novelists of the middle of the twentieth century who did not favour modernism. Some of those follow the example of Anthony Powell, a Proust disciple, but consciously adapting the technique to depict social change, rather than change in high society. This was a step beyond the realist novels of Arnold Bennett (the ''The Clayhanger Family, Clayhanger'' books) or John Galsworthy.


Twentieth century

The twenty-novel Aubrey-Maturin series by the English author Patrick O'Brian has been called perhaps the best-loved ''roman fleuve'' of the twentieth century: "[an] epic of two heroic yet believably realistic men that would in some ways define a generation".


Development of the novel sequence

Although sequences of
genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determi ...
are sometimes not considered to be ''romans-fleuves'', novel sequences are particularly common in science fiction and epic fantasy genres. The introduction of the preconstructed novel sequence is often attributed to E. E. Doc Smith, with his ''Lensman'' books. Such sequences, from contemporary authors, tend to be more clearly defined than earlier examples. Authors are now more likely to announce an overall series title, or write in round numbers such as 12 volumes. These characteristics are not those of the classical model forms, and become more like the Media franchise, franchises of the film industry.


Other examples

*
Louis Aragon Louis Aragon (, , 3 October 1897 – 24 December 1982) was a French poet who was one of the leading voices of the surrealist Surrealism was a cultural movement A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines appro ...
's ''Cycle du Monde Réel'' *A. S. Byatt's "Frederica Potter" quartet *Jacques Chardonne's ''Les Destinées sentimentales'' *
James Fenimore Cooper James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851) was an American writer of the first half of the 19th century. His historical romances depicting colonist and Indigenous characters from the 17th to the 19th centuries created a ...

James Fenimore Cooper
's ''Leatherstocking Tales'' *Hirohiko Araki's ''JoJo's Bizarre Adventure'' *John Crowley (author), John Crowley's ''Ægypt'' Cycle *Lawrence Durrell's ''Alexandria Quartet'' and other sequences *Ford Madox Ford's ''Parade's End'' *C. S. Forester's "Horatio Hornblower" series *John Galsworthy's ''The Forsyte Saga'' *Doris Lessing's ''Children of Violence'' *Thomas Mann's ''Joseph and His Brothers'' *
Roger Martin du Gard Roger Martin du Gard (; 23 March 1881 – 22 August 1958) was a French novelist, winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature. Biography Trained as a paleographer and archivist, he brought to his works a spirit of objectivity and a scrupulous r ...
's ''The Thibaults, Les Thibault'' *Yukio Mishima's ''The Sea of Fertility'' *Benito Pérez Galdós's ''Episodios nacionales'' *Anthony Powell's ''A Dance to the Music of Time'' *Dorothy Richardson's ''Pilgrimage (novel sequence), Pilgrimage'' *
Romain Rolland Romain Rolland (; 29 January 1866 – 30 December 1944) was a French dramatist, novelist, essayist, art historian and mystic who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915 "as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production a ...

Romain Rolland
's '' Jean-Christophe'' *John Roman Baker's "The Nick & Greg Books" *Philip Roth's "Zuckerman" novels *Paul Mark Scott, Paul Scott's ''Raj Quartet'' *C. P. Snow's ''Strangers and Brothers'' *
Anthony Trollope Anthony Trollope (; 24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882) was an English novelist and civil servant of the Victorian era. Among his best-known works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, which revolves around th ...

Anthony Trollope
's ''Chronicles of Barsetshire'' and Palliser novels *John Updike's "Rabbit Angstrom" books *Henry Williamson's ''Chronicles of Ancient Sunlight'' *A. N. Wilson's ''Lampitt Papers'' *Naguib Mahfouz's ''Cairo Trilogy, The Cairo Trilogy'' *Anais Nin's ''Cities of the Interior'' *Carolyn Keene's "Nancy Drew Mystery Stories"


Publishers' nonfiction series

Notable nonfiction book series for the general public have included: * Architecture: ''Pevsner Architectural Guides'' * Biography: ''The Republic of Letters''; ''Great Lives'' * History: ''History of the Great War'' * Science: ''New Naturalist, New Naturalist Library'' * Self Instruction: ''Teach Yourself''Teach Yourself (E.U.P./Hodder & Stoughton; Teach Yourself Books) - Book Series List
publishinghistory.com. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
* Sport: ''Badminton Library'' * Travel: ''Murray's Handbooks for Travellers''; ''Blue Guides''


Academic and scholarly publications

In scholarly and academic publishing, scientific and non-fiction books that are released Serial (literature), serially (in successive parts) once a year, or less often, are also called a series. (Publications that are released more often than once a year are known as periodicals.) The connection among books belonging to such a series can be by discipline, focus, approach, type of work, or geographic location. Examples of such series include the "Antwerp Working Papers in Linguistics", "Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile", "Garland Reference Library", "Canterbury Tales Project", "Early English Text Society", and "List of Cambridge Companions to Music, Cambridge Companions to Music".


See also

*List of children's book series *Trilogy *Sequel *Monographic series *Collection (publishing)


References


Further reading

* Peter Harris. ''International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature''. London: Taylor & Francis, 2014. * Frank Arthur Mumby. ''Publishing and Bookselling: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present Day''. London: Jonathan Cape, 1930. Revised edition, 1949. * Frank L. Schick. ''The Paperbound Book in America: The History of Paperbacks and Their European Background''. New York: R. R. Bowker, 1958. * John Spiers, ed. ''The Culture of the Publisher’s Series''. 2 vols. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. * Jack David Zipes, ed. ''The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature''. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2006. 4 volumes.


External links


PublishingHistory.com
- List of hardback and paperback book series with titles listed in each series
A Series of Series
- List of hardback publisher’s book series with detailed historical commentary on each
FantasticFiction.com

FictFact.com

FictionDB.com

OrderOfBooks.com

StopYoureKillingMe.com

Vintage Series Books for Girls . . . and a Few for Boys
{{Authority control Series of books, Novel series,