Saturday, 21 November 2009

Harlequin no. 1

In May 2009 Harlequin Enterprises published number 4093 in the Harlequin Romance series, Adopted: Family in a Million by Barbara McMahon. One of some 60 series published by Harlequin, Harlequin Romance is distinguished as being the direct descendant of the first Harlequins.

Adopted was published 4092 issues and 60 years after Harlequin no. 1 - The Manatee by Nancy Bruff.  Published by E.P. Dutton in 1945, The Manatee was Bruff's first novel. It earned her an article in Time but would be one of thousands of forgotten novels if it hadn't been reprinted as the first Harlequin.

The Harlequin edition has undistinguished anonymous art. The British hardcover edition's cover could easily have been on one of the paperbacks of the era and is similar to the US 1950 paperback version.

Harlequin 1

British edition front and back

Pyramid 24


  1. I'd never before seen Harlequin's The Manatee, though I had read of its intriguing pitch line: "Strange loves of a seaman". Overall, it seems such a disappointing cover, especially when compared to the second Harlequin.

  2. I have the second Harlequin and you're right, this is more like it. One of the classics. Wonder why Harlequin passed on reprinting this one last month?

  3. It would be interesting to know why they picked the titles they did. My own thought is that cover image played a part. All feature beautiful women, none of whom appear particularly threatening (unlike, say, the psychotic figures on the covers of Crazy to Kill or The World's Worst Women). Sad to think that they shut the whole series down without giving it a chance. I saw no ads or press, and the series page on the Harlequin site was pretty much hidden.

    A missed opportunity. One would think that as a Canadian company they would have brought back at least a couple of Canadian titles.

  4. Harlequin made a couple of other efforts to reach back. One was reprinting novels from 80s and 90s with new covers. The old cover was shown on the inside. A calendar with early book covers was sent to Harlequin authors. I found a copy on Ebay. But, as you say, a missed opportunity - lost among all their other 60th anniversary stuff.