Quick post this week again – sorry! I’ve just started at Erddig, a few miles across the Welsh border near Wrexham, for a six-week book cataloguing project. I hope to continue blogging about items in the Hatfield collection, but also to post a few images from this National Trust property in due course. Continue reading
Category Archives: Twentieth century
As I mentioned the last time, I had not come across a Mills & Boon to catalogue before, although if it were ever to be found in a historic library, it would have to be in Calke Abbey’s weird and wonderful collection of about 10,000[!] volumes.
Gerald Mills (1877-1928) and Charles Boon (1877-1943) met at Methuen, and set up their own publishing house in 1908. Although Mills & Boon is associated today with romantic fiction of a formulaic nature, the firm initially established itself as publishers of high-quality fiction and non-fiction. Mills had a background in education and focused on signing authors who could write text-books to be used in schools (and so ensure a wide distribution). Until the start of World War I, Mills and Boon were hugely successful in this field.
Joan Sutherland’s romantic fiction set in India may be an indication of the reversal of fortune for the firm in the 1920s. Because of its size, it was unable to compete in the field of literary fiction with larger power houses, such as Methuen and Macmillan, and in fact, Desborough also seems to have been published by Hodder and Stoughton. From the mid-1920s onwards, the firm focused more and more on romantic, escapist, fiction for women, issuing between two and four new titles every fortnight in the 1930s.
- Joseph McAleer, ‘Mills, Gerald Rusgrove (1877–1928)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/73895, accessed 3 Jan 2014]
- Joseph McAleer, ‘Boon, Charles (1877–1943)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/73896, accessed 3 Jan 2014]
Sometimes I come across an item which makes me look twice. On this occasion, there were two elements of this, otherwise boring, title page which caught my eye: first, the author: Joan Sutherland. Secondly, the publisher: Mills & Boon – the first one I ever catalogued!
Since this book was published in 1920, the author was unlikely to be the famous soprano 🙂 Instead, she was an author signed to Mills & Boon in the 1910s, and she published with them titles such as The edge of Empire (1916) and Wynnegate sahib (1918). Like these, Desborough is set in India during the British occupation.
- Haiti Trust digital library catalog (http://catalog.haititrust.org)
- Jay Dixon, The romance fiction of Mills & Boon, 1909-1990s. London: UCL Press, 1999.