Tuesday 23 April 2024

Star Weekly Novel Part IX

So far I've found 21 US newspapers that had Sunday editions with complete novel inserts. The range of years is 1919 to 1967. Nine of those newspapers used the Canadian Star Weekly novel, just changing the name of the newspaper on the front page. Here are the nine:

Akron Beacon Journal
Bangor Daily News
Bangor Sunday Commercial
Chicago Sun, The
Long Island Sunday Press
Newark Star-Ledger
Philadelphia Record
Sunday Patriot News [Harrisburg, PA]
Washington Post

Note all are in six Northeastern and Midwestern states - New York, New Jersey, Maine, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington DC. The other twelve newspapers are also in these states plus Michigan. Odd that none of the newspapers in the other 41 states appear to have published novel inserts.

Here are three Star Weekly novels.

June 2, 1945 - Angel Without Wings by Martha Ellen Wright (Doubleday, Doran, 1943)

October 21, 1944 - Captain Millett's Island by Katherine Newlin Burt (McCrae Smith, 1944)

October 10, 1953 - The Case of the Hesitant Hostess by Erle Stanley Gardner (W. Morrow, 1953)

Star Weekly Novel - October 21, 1944

Star Weekly Novel - June 2, 1945

Star Weekly Novel - October 10, 1953

Sunday 14 April 2024

Star Weekly Novel Part VIII

The Star Weekly's fiction editor was responsible for the Star Weekly Novel published every Saturday for 35 years. For a significant part of that range the editor was Gwen Cowley. In addition to the novel the Star Weekly published short stories and serials. A 1946 rejection letter to an author describes what she looked for in choosing a work for publishing.

"We like our stories to be full of action and colour, and also to have good strong plots. Our most urgent need at the moment is for good romances, sports, humor and adventure type of story. Our best length for short stories is around 3,500 words. We also use a novel a week, which must condense to around 46,000 words in length and also serials which run from 18,000 to 30,000 words."

Here are three of the novels.

August 1, 1953 - That Girl in Nice by Maysie Greig (Wm. Collins, 1954)

November 8, 1952 - Brave Interval by Elizabeth Yates (Coward, McCann, 1952)

February 23, 1946 - Java Orchid by Helen Eva Yates (first and only publication, not published in book form)

Star Weekly Novel - February 23, 1946

Star Weekly Novel - November 3, 1952

Star Weekly Novel - August 1, 1953

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Star Weekly Novel Part VII

From the earliest Star Weekly Novel that I've seen (May 1938) until October 1956 the art work on the front cover was virtually identical. A young, impossibly perfect Anglo-Saxon woman is always on the cover. For most of that period she is the only person shown. Doesn't matter what the genre - romance, western, historical, crime or thriller. 

Finally in November 1956 the style changed and the scene matched the novel. The other change is the length is reduced from 15 1/2" to 14". Here are two examples, both Agatha Christie novels. The earlier cover is a perfect example - a young woman holding a kitten illustrating a story called "Blood Will Tell".

Star Weekly - December 25, 1954

Star Weekly - December 28, 1957

Friday 5 April 2024

Newspaper Novels Part VII

The three front covers in my last post are from The Philadelphia Inquirer's Sunday novel insert. They share three characteristics: a man and a woman, the woman is looking away and the man is looking at the woman. Tension in the air. The woman has doubts and the man is concerned. What about the rest of the Inquirers that I own? Here is an inventory.

  • one woman, no man       6
  • more than one woman, no man     4
  • one woman and one man     19
  • one woman, two or more men      7    
  • more than one woman, one or more men      3

Thirty-two have one woman. All the rest have at least two women including four where the women have equal status and three with the focus on one woman. The message is clear. Women were the likely readers of the inserts. Further evidence is Book of the Month Club 1947 readership which was 65% women, 35% men. This remains the case today generally although there is not as large a difference.

Here are three women only covers.

January 24, 1943 - Ladies in Boxes by Gelett Burgess (Alliance Book, 1942)

November 28, 1943 - The Quiet Lady by Norman Collins (Wm. Collins, 1942 as Anna)

May 23, 1943 - Air Force Girl by Renee Shann (Carlton House, 1942)

                 The Philadelphia Inquirer - January 24, 1943

The Philadelphia Inquirer - November 28, 1943

The Philadelphia Inquirer - May 23, 1943

Monday 1 April 2024

Newspaper Novels Part VI

In 1940 the population of the US was 131.7 million in 34.9 million households (1940 census). Pennsylvania's population was 9.9 million, second in the country after New York and the estimated number of households was 2.67 million using an average of 3.7 people per household. Based on 1938 and 1944 data I estimate Sunday circulation of The Philadelphia Inquirer was around 1.05 million in 1940 for a yearly total of 54.6 million. Some of that circulation was likely in other states like New Jersey and New York but, assuming all in Pennsylvania, an amazing 40% of households received the Sunday edition.

In 1940 the Book-of-the-Month Club (BOTMC) sold 3.79 million books to 404.5 thousand subscribers. BOTMC had 67% of the book club market (in 1947) so the total book club sales was close to 5.65 million books.

This means that the Inquirer Sunday insert "Gold Seal Novel" in 1940 reached 10 times as many Pennsylvania households as the book clubs' entire US sales. How many more were actually read is anyone's guess. Here are three more from 1941.

July 27, 1941 - Only Love Lasts by Rosamond Du Jardin (first published ?)

May 4, 1941 - Women Will Be Doctors by Hannah Lees (Random House, 1940)

October 5, 1941 - A Star For Susan by Frances Shelley Wees (Macrae-Smith, 1940)

The Philadelphia Inquirer - July 27, 1941

The Philadelphia Inquirer - May 4, 1941

The Philadelphia Inquirer - October 5, 1941