This little book was the second to appear in the 'World's Story Tellers' series, edited by Arthur Ransome. In 1907, on impulse, he called at the office of the publishers T.C. & E.C. Jack, with whom he had a slight acquaintance, and proposed a new series to illustrate the art of storytelling, each volume to consist of stories selected, and with a general introduction, by Ransome. Jack liked the idea, and suggested the title "The World's Story Tellers". It was agreed that Ransome would be the editor, responsible for finding translations where necessary, and that he would be paid extra for any he did himself. Furthermore, it was agreed that Ransome's introductions should be written so as to serve eventually as chapters in a history of story telling. This volume contains two stories by Hoffman: "The Cremona Violin" and "Mademoiselle de Scudery".
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm (aka Amadeus) Hoffmann (1776–1822) was a Prussian Romantic author of fantasy and horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draughtsman and caricaturist. His stories form the basis of Offenbach's famous opera "The Tales of Hoffmann". He also wrote the novella "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King", on which the famous ballet "The Nutcracker" is based. The ballet "Coppélia" is based on another two of his stories, and Schumann's "Kreisleriana" is based on his character Johannes Kreisler. Hoffmann's stories were very popular during the 19th century, and he is considered one of the major authors of the Romantic movement.
The book is small, bound in very grubby yellow cloth with black titles to front and spine, but with only minor signs of shelf wear and use. The 151 pages have all been cut and the edges are darkened (particularly the top). The endpapers are browned and somewhat foxed, but only one spot of foxing appears on the first 3 or 4 pages (see photo). The stitched binding is generally firm, with slight weakness between the gatherings. A B/W frontispiece depicts Hoffman (presumably), but no artist is credited. An ink gift inscription dated 1908, and the signature of a subsequent owner - possibly the recipient? - adorn the front free endpaper.