Tuesday 28 June 2011

Harlequin-Pan Editions Part I

In 1947, two years before Harlequin Books began publishing, Pan Books of London started its paperback series. Coincidentally Pan published the same number of books as Harlequin in its first year, 25. In 1953 Harlequin started publishing books in association with Pan. There were 12 (but see below) by the time the series ended in 1957. With one exception Pan also published an edition. The second and third were The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Son of the Gods by Rex Beach. The Lost World has two variants, one with the phrase "A Harlequin Book" on the back cover and one with "A Harlequin-Pan Book". Son of the Gods also has both variants.

The Lost World Pan edition is 100. There isn't a Son of the Gods Pan edition. Son of the Gods is also unique in that the phrase "A Harlequin-Pan Book" is not on the front cover and no notice of the arrangement with Pan on the copyright page as there is with the other 11 books. I suspect that the variant of Son of the Gods with the Harlequin-Pan notice on the back cover is an error. The Lost World is 238, Son of the Gods 241. Covers with the preprinted phrase used for The Lost World may have been inadvertently used for Son of the Gods before the error was caught. At any rate here are the books.

Harlequin 238 - July 1953

Harlequin 238 back

Harlequin 238 back variant

Harlequin 241 - August 1953

Harlequin 241 back

Harlequin 241 back variant

Monday 27 June 2011

How Many? Part I

What is the population of books that are the subject of this blog? How many books were published by Canadian paperback publishers in the 1940s and 50s? A few conditions first:
  • excludes French language books,
  • includes all variants and reprints,
  • includes mass market paperbacks and digests but excludes pulps,
  • excludes editions from Canadian branches of American publishers.
I'm including variants and reprints because this is a bibliographic census. There is a question whether reprints after 1959 of books published through 1959 by Harlequin Books should be counted. I will count if the same series number is used on the reprint.

The number of titles is easier to count - 1300 +/- 25. The number of books including variants and reprints is 1825 +/- 75. Below are the first and last books in these counts.

Beaver nn - May 1941

Harlequin 497 - December 1959

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Harlequin and White Circle Twins Part III

Recently I discussed one of two sets of twins for Harlequin Books and Export Publishing Enterprises. Before talking about a set for Harlequin and Wm. Collins Sons & Co, Canada I'd like to correct that post.

A kind correspondent (thanks Ken) has cleared up the mystery (at least for me) when Outlaw Deputy was first published. The answer is New York's Julian Messner in 1936 as Black Sheep as by Will F. Jenkins. It was first published under the new author name and title by Star Guidance, Inc. (New York, 1950) as Star Books 5.

Harlequin and Collins Canada had five sets of twins. The third one in this series of posts is Nurse's Aid by Lucy Agnes Hancock, first published by Macrae-Smith in 1943. The editions have the same text.

White Circle 295 - 1947

White Circle 295 back

Harlequin 356 - March 1956

Harlequin 356 back

Sunday 19 June 2011

Harlequin and Export Twins Part I

Harlequin Books published 477 titles between 1949 and 1959. Export Publishing Enterprises, one of the other two large early Canadian paperback publishers, published 165 titles between late 1946 and early 1951. Two of the titles were shared by Export and Harlequin. Here is the first one - Outlaw Deputy by Murray Leinster. Leinster's real name was William Fitzgerald Jenkins (1896 - 1975). Many of his westerns were published as by Will Jenkins.

The book was first published by Julian Messner in 1936 under the title Black Sheep.
Typically the Export edition is abridged - about 30% shorter than the Harlequin. The back cover blurbs are nearly identical - both maybe lifted from the Star Guidance book.

News Stand Library 133 - September 1950

News Stand Library 133 back

Harlequin 281 - March 1954

Harlequin 281 back

Saturday 18 June 2011

Harlequin Authors Part X

There were 255 authors (477 titles) published by Harlequin Books between 1949 and 1959; 186 of whom had but one title among the 477. Here are two.

The Harlequin edition of The Lady Lost Her Head (New York: Phoenix Press, 1950) by Manning Lee Stokes (1911 - 1976) is the only paperback and the last English edition of the book.

Jerrard Tickell's (1905 - 1966) Appointment with Venus was first published in 1951 by London's Hodder & Stoughton.

Harlequin 370 - October 1956

Harlequin 370 back

Harlequin 432 - July 1958

Harlequin 432 back

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Harlequin History Part II

The Romancing of the Harlequin, 1955-1959

The Company

After Palmer died Bonnycastle’s wife became editor, approving books that Palmour found through corresponding with publishers. Bonnycastle’s wife disliked crime/thriller books and we can see the effect of this change in editorial focus as romances went from 11% of the titles in 1954 to 40% in 1955. There was also a business reason for the move to romance as it became clear it sold better than the other genres. In 1957 Harlequin contacted the English publishing firm Mills & Boon which specialized in romance fiction and secured the rights to reprint their books in Canada. Harlequin’s first Mills & Boon book was 407, The Hospital in Buwando by Anne Vinton, in late 1957. Three romances later in early 1958 the first book with “A Harlequin Romance” on the cover appears, Doctor Lucy by Barbara Allen.

The Books

In 1955 the number of books published dropped to 25, less than half the average of the previous five years. The next three years numbers increased slowly to 38 in 1958 and then 51 in 1959.

The shift to romance is clear when looking at the statistics from these years. Of the 175 books published 12 were reprints leaving 163 titles (four PBOs), 53% of which were romances, 27% crime/thriller, 7% western and 13% non fiction and other fiction. The last western was published in 1958 and the last crime/thriller in 1959. In 1959, for the first time, more than half of the books were romances, 34 of 51 (67%), 30 of which were by Mills & Boons authors.

During these five years 77 different authors were published, 51 (66%) with a single title, 6 (8%) with two titles and 20 (26%) with three or more titles. Edgar Wallace was the most published author with 17 titles but the shift to romance is also evident here as fifteen of the authors with three or more books wrote romances. The number of cover artists also dropped to half-a-dozen or so who signed their work. The Harlequin cover “look” also evolved quickly during this period as romances dominated. The covers now were much tamer with duller colouring and design.

Harlequin 327 - February 1955

Harlequin 327 back

Harlequin 407 - December 1957

Harlequin 407 back

Harlequin 497 - December 1959

Harlequin 497 back

Sunday 12 June 2011

Harlequin Reprints Part VII

Eighteen of Harlequin's 477 titles published between 1949 and 1959 were published with two numbers in the series, and one with three numbers. Here are two of the three RCMP novels with two numbers. Royce of the Royal Mounted is a second printing but The River's End is a new edition as the pages are reset.

Harlequin 66 - August 1950

Harlequin 66 back

Harlequin 399 - August 1957

Harlequin 399 back

Harlequin 162 - April 1952

Harlequin 162 back

Harlequin 380 - April 1957

Harlequin 380 back

Friday 10 June 2011

Harlequin Nurses Part I

To my mind one of the oddest publishing phenomena is the nurse romance. Specifically the Harlequin nurse romance which, in the early to mid sixties, dominated their book list. Here are some statistics:

                   nurse titles   total titles

1953-1959           81           477        17%

1960-1965          268          479        56%

There were no nurse romances from 1949 to 1952, three in 1953, an average of 10 per year for the next 5 years, 25 in 1959, an average of 45 from 1960 to 1965, then 25 in 1966 and dropping off from there. The most amazing statistic is that 56% of all Harlequin titles for six years (1960 - 1965) were nurse romances. All but 10 of the rest were non-nurse romances.

Here are three with "Nurse" in the title.

Harlequin 362 - May 1956

Harlequin 362 back

Harlequin 384 - April 1957

Harlequin 384 back

Harlequin 423 - May 1958

Harlequin 423 back 

Thursday 9 June 2011

Harlequin History Part I

Here's an article of mine that was published in Paperback Parade 75. This is the first of three parts.

In May 2009 Harlequin Enterprises published number 4093 in the Harlequin Romance series: Adopted: Family in a Million by Barbara McMahon. The publishing of this book marks the 60th anniversary of the publishing of “A Harlequin Book” number 1, The Manatee by Nancy Bruff, in May 1949. The Romance series is one of 17 series under the Harlequin imprint and is the direct descendant of the first books, making an unbroken 60 year numbering sequence. The anniversary is a good excuse for an article about Canada’s most successful publisher. Harlequin is a very well documented company, so I’ll give a brief history of the company and focus on the books and the Canadian context.

The Birthing of the Harlequin 1949-1954

The Company

Since The Manatee Harlequin has shipped approximately 5.8 billion books through 2008 and is the global leader in series romance with 10 imprints encompassing 51 different series. When Richard Bonnycastle started the company in 1949 he couldn’t have imagined this success. Bonnycastle was the manager and part-owner of Winnipeg’s Advocate Printers, owned by Bryant Press of Toronto, both of whom printed the White Circle Pocket Library imprint for Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada Ltd. Bonnycastle saw an opportunity to use excess capacity at Advocate and suggested to investors that they start a paperback publisher. In late 1949 or early 1950 Bonnycastle hired Jack Palmer, then Sales Director at Collins, as Managing Director. He became responsible for choosing the books, arranging for cover art and marketing. Ruth Palmour, Bonnycastle’s secretary at Advocate, dealt “with Palmer [in Toronto] by letter and phone, getting the books printed and delivered to the wholesale distributors.” A few years into the new venture Palmer died and his shares were transferred to Bonnycastle.

It isn’t surprising that Bonnycastle had the idea to start a paperback company in mid 1949. That year some 12 to 15 million paperbacks were sold in Canada through 9,000 to 10,000 outlets by American, British and large Canadian publishers such as Harlequin, Collins and Export Publishing Enterprises Ltd. with their News Stand Library imprint. There were also short-lived companies such as Alval Publishing’s Crow imprint (started the same month as Harlequin, May 1949), Derby Publishing (last half of 1949) and Arrow Publishing (November 1949). All were trying to gain traction in the paperback market after the war during what has been described by Piet Schreuders as the “sex war” period. By mid 1952 the News Stands, White Circles, Crows and others were gone leaving Harlequin as the only Canadian paperback publisher.

The Books

From May 1949 until the end of 1954 Harlequin published 322 books. The number of books in the first full five years averaged approximately 60, from a low of 56 in 1952 to a high of 65 in 1950. Eight of the 322 were reprints of earlier Harlequins leaving 314 titles, of which only 14 were PBOs. During these early years all genres were published with 41% crime/thriller, 20% western, 12% romance, 22% other (primarily historical) and 5% non fiction.

In the first five and half years 210 different authors were published, 163 (77%) with a single title, 29 (14%) with two titles and 18 (8%) with three or more titles. James Hadley Chase had the most books with 13.

Another way to look at the variety in this period is the cover art. There were at least 15 signed cover artists and many unsigned ones, all of whom provided provocative covers with strong primary colours.

Harlequin 42 - April 1950

Harlequin 42 back

Harlequin 103 - May 1951

Harlequin 103 back

Harlequin 151 - January 1952

Harlequin 151 back

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Un Roman Harlequin Part I

In 1960 Harlequin Books published Patricia et le Noveau Medecin, the French version of an earlier English edition of one of the nurse romances that were so popular well into the sixties. Pat Whitney R. N. had been published in December 1955 and reprinted in February 1957 and February 1959.

My guess is that there are others but this is the only example of an early Harlequin roman that I've seen.

Harlequin 347 - December 1955

Harlequin 347 back

Harlequin 347f - 1960

Harlequin 347f back