Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Second Most Successful Harlequin

In March 1952 Harlequin Books published Health, Sex and Birth Control by Percy E. Ryberg, M.D. The book had originally been published in November 1942 by The Anchor Press of Toronto. Two revised editions followed in 1943 with a further three reprints through 1948 by The Anchor Press. The Harlequin edition went through nine printings up to 1962. Total sales had to have been more than 100,000.  Some time between the 4th and 8th printing Harlequin reset the book so at least the last two printings are technically a new edition. But the text was not changed.

By the last edition the text should have been revised. For example the birth control pill is not mentioned in Chapter IX - "Birth Control". After warning about the use of birth control leading to "race suicide", the chapter ends with:

"Therefore, if we have gone to the extent of describing birth control methods, at the same time we seriously warn against the dangers of this two-edged sword. Reliance on the instinctive love for children, the intelligence and moral fibre of our readers gives us the justification for this chapter. We do not doubt that those who practice birth control will abide by their duty to mankind."

This sort of pandering to organized religion (i.e.: Catholicism) might have been needed in the early forties but I wonder how it sounded to the reader of 1962.

The covers never changed. Below are the covers from the July 1962 8th printing. The "climacteric" (I've never heard this term) referred to on the cover is menopause.

Harlequin 161

Harlequin 161 back

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