The series has been considered a high-water mark in fantasy publishing. Envisioned by the husband-and-wife team of Ian and Betty Ballantine, it was produced under the editorship of Lin Carter. It also featured cover art by illustrators such as Gervasio Gallardo, Bob Pepper, Robert LoGrippo, and David McCall Johnston. The agreement signed between the Ballantines and Carter on November 22, 1968 launched the project. In addition to the reprints making up the bulk of the series, some new fantasy works were published, as well as a number of original collections and anthologies put together by Carter, and Imaginary Worlds, his general history of the modern fantasy genre.
The series was never considered a money-maker for Ballantine, although the re-issue of several of its titles both before and after the series' demise shows that a number of individual works were considered successful. The Ballantines supported the series as long as they remained the publishers of Ballantine Books, but with their sale of the company to Random House in 1973 support from the top was no longer forthcoming, and in 1974, with the end of the Ballantines' involvement in the company they had founded, the series was terminated.
After the termination of the Adult Fantasy series, Ballantine continued to publish fantasy, but concentrated primarily on new titles, with the older works it continued to issue being those with proven track records. In 1977 both its fantasy and science fiction lines were relaunched under the Del Rey Books imprint, under the editorship of Lester and Judy-Lynn del Rey. Carter continued his promotion of the fantasy genre in a new line of annual anthologies from DAW Books, The Year's Best Fantasy Stories, also beginning in 1975. Meanwhile, the series' lapsed mission of restoring classic works of fantasy to print had been taken up on a more limited basis by the Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library, launched in 1973.
All books in the "series proper" bore a distinctive Unicorn's Head colophon on the cover and included an introduction by Carter.
=Precursors, August 1965 to April 1969=Edit
Ballantine published these fantasies and fantasy criticism before hiring Carter as consultant.
Some were labeled "A Ballantine Adult Fantasy" on the first Ballantine cover. Later reprints of some bore the Unicorn's Head colophon.
The Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien (October 1965)#
The Two Towers, J. R. R. Tolkien (October 1965)#
The Return of the King, J. R. R. Tolkien (December 1965)#
The Tolkien Reader, J. R. R. Tolkien (September 1966)#
Mistress of Mistresses, E. R. Eddison (August 1967)#
A Fish Dinner in Memison, E. R. Eddison (February 1968)#
Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake (October 1968; later reprinted (5th) with colophon)#
Titus Alone, Mervyn Peake (October 1968; later reprinted (4th & 5th) with colophon)#
The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle (February 1969, with "A Ballantine Adult Fantasy" on the cover; later reprinted with colophon)# A Fine and Private Place, Peter S. Beagle (February 1969, with "A Ballantine Adult Fantasy" on the cover of the first two printings)# Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham, J. R. R. Tolkien (March 1969)# Tolkien: A Look Behind "The Lord of the Rings", Lin Carter (March 1969)# The Mezentian Gate, E. R. Eddison (April 1969, with "A Ballantine Adult Fantasy" on the cover)
The series proper, May 1969 to April 1974Edit
Volumes published as part of the series, based on a listing by Lin Carter in Imaginary Worlds: the Art of Fantasy with the addition of books new to Ballantine published under the Unicorn's Head colophon thereafter.
Inexplicably, Carter's study Lovecraft: A Look Behind the "Cthulhu Mythos" (1972) is never listed in the series, though published by Ballantine. (It is inserted in the below listing where it would naturally fall.) # The Blue Star, Fletcher Pratt (May 1969) (#01602)# The King of Elfland's Daughter, Lord Dunsany (June 1969) (#01628)# The Wood Beyond the World, William Morris (July 1969) (#01652)# The Silver Stallion, James Branch Cabell (August 1969) (#01678)# Lilith, George MacDonald (September 1969) (#01711)# Dragons, Elves, and Heroes, Lin Carter, ed. (October 1969) (#01731)# The Young Magicians, Lin Carter, ed. (October 1969) (#01730)# Figures of Earth, James Branch Cabell (November 1969) (#01763)# The Sorcerer's Ship, Hannes Bok (December 1969) (#01795)# Land of Unreason, Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp (January 1970) (#01814)# The High Place, James Branch Cabell (February 1970) (#01855-9)# Lud-in-the-Mist, Hope Mirrlees (March 1970) (#01880-X)# At the Edge of the World, Lord Dunsany (March 1970) (#01879-6)# Phantastes, George MacDonald (April 1970) (#01902-4)# The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, H. P. Lovecraft (May 1970) (#01923-7)# Zothique, Clark Ashton Smith (June 1970) (#01938-5)# The Shaving of Shagpat, George Meredith (July 1970) (#01958-X)# The Island of the Mighty, Evangeline Walton (July 1970) (#01959-8)# Deryni Rising, Katherine Kurtz (August 1970) (#01981-4)# The Well at the World's End, Vol. 1, William Morris (August 1970) (#01982-2)# The Well at the World's End, Vol. 2, William Morris (September 1970) (#02015-4)# Golden Cities, Far, Lin Carter, ed. (October 1970) (#02045-6)# Beyond the Golden Stair, Hannes Bok (November 1970) (#02093-6)# The Broken Sword, Poul Anderson (January 1971) (#02107-X)# The Boats of the "Glen Carrig", William Hope Hodgson (February 1971) (#02145-2)# The Doom that Came to Sarnath and Other Stories, H. P. Lovecraft (February 1971) (#02146)# Something About Eve, James Branch Cabell (March 1971) (#02067-7)# Red Moon and Black Mountain, Joy Chant (March 1971) (#02178-9)# Hyperborea, Clark Ashton Smith (April 1971) (#02206-8)# Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley, Lord Dunsany (May 1971) (#02244-0)# Vathek, William Beckford (June 1971) (#02279-3)# The Man Who Was Thursday, G. K. Chesterton (July 1971) (#02305-6)# The Children of Llyr, Evangeline Walton (August 1971) (#02332-3)# The Cream of the Jest, James Branch Cabell (September 1971) (#02364-1)# New Worlds for Old, Lin Carter, ed. (September 1971) (#02365-X)# The Spawn of Cthulhu, Lin Carter, ed. (October 1971) (#02394-3)# Double Phoenix, Edmund Cooper and Roger Lancelyn Green (November 1971) (#02420-6)# The Water of the Wondrous Isles, William Morris (November 1971) (#02421-4)# Khaled, F. Marion Crawford (December 1971) (#02446-X)# The World's Desire, H. Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang (January 1972) (#02467-2)
[Lovecraft: A Look Behind the "Cthulhu Mythos", Lin Carter (February 1972) (#02427-3)]# Xiccarph, Clark Ashton Smith (February 1972) (#02501-6)# The Lost Continent, C. J. Cutcliffe Hyne (February 1972) (#02502-4)# Discoveries in Fantasy, Lin Carter, ed. (March 1972) (#02546-6)# Domnei: A Comedy of Woman-Worship, James Branch Cabell (March 1972) (#02545-8)# Kai Lung's Golden Hours, Ernest Bramah (April 1972) (#02574-1)# Deryni Checkmate, Katherine Kurtz (May 1972) (#02598-9)
- The Three Impostors, Arthur Machen (June 1972) (#02643-8)# The Night Land, Vol. 1, William Hope Hodgson (July 1972) (#02669-1)# The Night Land, Vol. 2, William Hope Hodgson (July 1972) (#02670-5)# The Song of Rhiannon, Evangeline Walton (August 1972) (#02773-6)# Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy I, Lin Carter, ed. (September 1972) (#02789-2)# Evenor, George MacDonald (November 1972) (#02874)
- Orlando Furioso: The Ring of Angelica, Volume 1, Ludovico Ariosto, translated by Richard Hodgens (January 1973) (#03057-5)# The Charwoman's Shadow, Lord Dunsany (February 1973) (#03085-0)# Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy Volume II, Lin Carter, ed. (March 1973) (#03162-8)# The Sundering Flood, William Morris (May 1973) (#03261-6)# Imaginary Worlds: the Art of Fantasy, Lin Carter (June 1973) (#03309-4)# Poseidonis, Clark Ashton Smith (July 1973) (#03353-1)
=Leftovers, June to November 1974=Edit
Two volumes published after retirement of the Unicorn's Head colophon were evidently intended for the series. The first has a Carter introduction and the second completes a set of four begun under his editorship.
Other works considered by Carter for inclusion in the seriesEdit
Carter intended to reissue or compile these books for the series, according to statements in his introductions to other books in the series and lists discovered among his effects after his death or elsewhere.
- Short Stories, Donald Corley
- Thaïs, Anatole France
- Short Stories, David H. Keller
- The Roots of the Mountains, William Morris
- The Story of the Glittering Plain, William Morris
- Circe's Island, Eden Phillpotts
- Evander, Eden Phillpotts
- Living Prophets, Eden Phillpotts
- Lycanthrope, Eden Phillpotts
- One Thing and Another, Eden Phillpotts
- Saurus, Eden Phillpotts
- The Thing at Their Heels, Eden Phillpotts
- The Treasure of Typhon, Eden Phillpotts
- Malneant, Clark Ashton Smith
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Science Fiction Encyclopedia entry for Lin Carter.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Carter, Lin. Imaginary Worlds: the Art of Fantasy. Ballantine Books, 1973.
- ↑ ISFDB publisher page for the series
- ↑ Apostle of Letters: The Life and Work of Lin Carter, ed. Stephen Sebvello, Wild Cat Books.
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