Perhaps the best thing about OneWorld's books is the extensive supplementary material provided within each book. Most editions contain photographs, notes, short pieces on the author’s life and works, and other relevant commentary. For poetry translations, all of OneWorld’s editions are bilingual.
Curious about OneWorld Classics, I recently picked up James Hanley’s Boy, a OneWorld edition published in 2007. Boy was first published in England in 1931, but, shortly after publication, the book was denounced as obscene and removed from circulation for more than 50 years. Like all OneWorld titles, this new edition of Boy includes useful supplementary material, including photographs of the author and his family, a history of Hanley’s life and works, and an excellent introduction by Anthony Burgess, whose concise synopsis of the book captures Boy’s bleakness:
A boy escapes from a tyrannical father by stowing away on a merchant vessel bound for Alexandria. He is ill-treated and sneered at by the crew, undergoes his sexual initiation in an Egyptian hotel, and then, writhing in the shame of syphilis, is put down like a sick dog by the ship's captain.During his life, Hanley boasted he wrote the first draft of Boy in just ten days. Though other sources claim that may be an exaggeration, the book retains the immediacy and rough edges one would expect from a quick draft. What Boy lacks in literary graces, however, it makes up for in social significance. Boy revealed the horrible circumstances faced by many children from working class homes forced into the workforce at a young age. Hanley was prosecuted for obscenity for Boy, but, while the book addresses themes of sexuality, it's far from obscene. Rather, it reveals what many wished would remain hidden, and, for that crime, it was unavailable for decades. We are fortunate OneWorld is returning to life (and general availability) classics like this one.