Sunday, August 9, 2015

Canadian Hardboiled America Part I

Geoffrey O'Brien's Hardboiled America (New York: Van Nostrand, 1981) is the best introduction to vintage paperbacks of the 1940s and 50s. Not so much a history it places these paperbacks in the world for which they were created. Hardboiled for O'Brien means "... naturalistic novels, political novels, spy thrillers, conventional whodunits - all those books that seem to orbit near the undefinable quality I have referred to as the hardboiled novel."

Not surprisingly American editions of the paperbacks are used to illustrate the book. There is a checklist of 334 titles (1929 - 1958) at the end of the book, of which 13 had early Canadian paperback editions. Here are two.

Howard Hunt's Maelstrom was first published in 1948 (New York, Farrar, Straus). The Harlequin edition beat the first (Signet 768 - 1950, retitled Dark Encounter) American paperback version to market.

Harlequin's edition of Night and the City (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1946) by Gerald Kersh came out the same year as the first American paperback - Dell 374.

Harlequin 3 - May 1949

Harlequin 3 back
Harlequin 45 - May 1950
Harlequin 45 back

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Early Harlequin Name Changes Part I

If you believe some book dealers' listings for the first 500 books published by Harlequin Books many are PBOs. In fact only 25 of the 480 titles (20 of the books are renumbered reprints) are PBOs. I suspect that one of the reasons is that almost one-fifth (87) of the 455 titles originally published by other publishers were retitled by Harlequin. Here are three examples.

Hoodlum Alley was originally titled At Your Service and published in 1932 by New York's Macaulay Company.

People of the Night was originally titled A Kingdom by Night and published in 1953 by London's Andrew Melrose.

Out of the Night was originally titled The Black Dark Murders and published in 1949 by New York's Quinn Publishing. This is a PBO.

Harlequin did not acknowledge the changes in name.

Harlequin 305 - July 1954
Harlequin 305 back
Harlequin 329 - February 1955
Harlequin 329 back
Harlequin 335 - April 1955
Harlequin 335 back

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Harlequin Artists Part XXXV - ATR

The first 500 books published by Canadian Harlequin Books from mid 1949 to early 1960 had 489 different covers. Of these eight were either all type or photographs leaving 481 illustrated covers with 294 having identifiable signatures. Another 18 have initials that are not associated with known artists or illegible signatures. I think I have a good guess for three of those books.

Three books in 1953 were signed by "ATR". A likely candidate is Aileen Tyrrell Richardson (1916-2005). She was a graduate of the Ontario College of Art, lived in Toronto and was an active mid-century illustrator for Canadian magazines, including Chatelaine, and books.
Signature - Harlequin 216
Harlequin 216 - February 1953
Harlequin 230 - May 1953
Harlequin 234 - June 1953

148 and Counting

The British North American Act, enacted March 29, 1867 by the British Parliament, provided for Confederation of the three British North American colonies, Canada (Upper and Lower), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Now much amended as the Constitution Act, 1867, it was proclaimed into law on July 1, 1867 and Canada was born. The first official birthday celebration was in 1868, July 1 being named Dominion Day in 1879 and Canada Day in 1982.

I work at an institution that was founded in one of the BNA colonies, Nova Scotia, 78 years before Confederation - the University of King's College. One of our early graduates (1815) was Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-1865) whose The Clockmaker was published in 1836 by Joseph Howe later a premier of Nova Scotia. Still in print the latest edition is from Peterborough's Broadview Press. Joining Sam Slick is Canadian author Hugh MacLennan's Barometer Rising which takes place in 1917 Halifax. 
White Circle C.D. 529 - 1952
White Circle C.D. 529 - back

Saturday, April 18, 2015

White Circle Twins Part II

Surprising or not publishers of early paperbacks often chose the same scene from the book for the cover. Here is one example crossing the "longest undefended border in the world' (is it still?). The Canadian is from Wm. Collins Sons and Co. Canada Ltd and the American from Avon Publishing Co., Ltd.
White Circle 215 - 1945
White Circle 215 back
Avon 165 - 1948
Avon 165 back