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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Forgotten Authors Volume 5


More essays about long-forgotten authors whose work once entertained millions.

This new volume of Forgotten Authors follows in the footsteps of the previous series—the four volumes that made up fifty essays on long-forgotten or dimly-remembered writers—with eleven articles the writing careers of highwaymen biographer Alexander Smith in the early 18th century, to 20th century lama and mystic, T. Lobsang Rampa.

Available as both a Kindle e-book and a print volume via Amazon:

PRINT EDITION:
Available in the following territories:
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES | Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon PL | Amazon SE | Amazon JP | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

KINDLE EDITION:
Available in the following territories:
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES | Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon JP | Amazon BR | Amazon CA | Amazon MX | Amazon AU | Amazon IN


Contents

Before the Newgate Calendar
Today’s tabloids, with their daily diet of sensational and tawdry tales, are nothing new. Chapbooks and pamphlets, complete with grisly woodcuts, were common in the eighteenth century, when highwaymen still roamed the heaths and pirates ruled the waves. Two of the most influential books gathering the biographies of notorious criminals appeared in 1714 and 1726, and arguments over their authorship have raged for 300 years.

James Skipp Borlase
Accused of plagiarism in Australia, the former lawyer returned to England and a career as a penny-a-liner until he became one of the most successful writers of feuilletons.

John G. Brandon
Nowadays known only for his contributions to the Sexton Blake saga, Brandon was once a successful playwright and theatre actor, whose play The Silent House was a huge success on stage, screen and sold a quarter of a million copies in book form.

Alfred Duggan
A writer of historical novels who could count Bernard Cornwall and George R. R. Martin amongst his fans... but whose troubled personal and family background almost destroyed him before he turned to writing in his forties.

T. Lobsang Rampa
Few stories can be more bizarre than that of Cyril Hoskin, who claimed that his body was taken over by a lama from Tibet. The story was told through a series of best-selling books, beginning with The Third Eye, much to the disappointment of Tibetan scholars.

Donald Cresswell
Actor and novelist Donald Cresswell had once spent time in prison and on the run from the police when he broke out of Dartmoor… and then he went missing one night while taking a walk along the cliff tops around his Cornwall home…

Judith M. Berrisford
The creator of pony-mad Jackie filled her books with horses, dogs and cats and was inspired to write her first novel after watching a neighbour’s sheep dog.

Bryan Haven
Australian who fought in Korea before turning to journalism and fiction, penning a number of historically accurate western and spy novels, although success always seemed to elude him.

Michael Butterworth
From unsuccessful weighing machine salesman to hugely successful editor of teenage girls’ and women’s magazines, Butterworth turned his back on Fleet Street, retreated to a mansion in Sussex, and wrote psychological thrillers, blackly comic novels and gothic romances under pen-names.

H. J. Campbell
After training as a chemist and assisting in various hospitals and institutions, Campbell turned his writing sideline into a full-time job and wrote 23 novels in four years before returning to science.

Anthony Dyllington
Who was the mysterious Dyllington, author of The Unseen Thing, and what was his connection with the manor house at Knighton Gorges on the Isle of Wight.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Beyond the Void: The Remarkable History of Badger Books

Beyond the Void: The Remarkable History of Badger Books
Published: 25 March 2024
Format: A4, 172 pages, full colour with matte cover.


Currently available via my Ebay Shop. I'm signed up to the global shipping programme, so this option should be available to anyone wherever they live (warzones excluded).

Also available via Amazon.

If you want a signed copy, contact me at the address to the right.

BEYOND THE VOID
The Remarkable History of Badger Books

Badger Books was an imprint of British publishing company, John Spencer & Co., who were active between 1948 and 1967, during which time they published around 800 novels, short story collections and magazines. They were notoriously bad payers, 10 shilling a thousand words, so a 55,000-word novel would receive £27 ($75). That's not a bad deal if you can knock out a novel over a weekend, or over a few days in the evenings after work. Step forward John S. Glasby, a chemist at ICI, and the Rev. R. Lionel Fanthorpe, at the time a teacher, who, between them, wrote over 400 books for the company.

This is their story, and the story of other toilers in the field at Badger Books from John F. Watt, who wrote most of their science fiction magazines in the early 1950s, to Henry Fox, the imaginative cover artist of over 240 books. The book explores the history of John Spencer / Badger Books, and includes interviews and essays on many of the leading contributors, including a look at perhaps the worst SF author of all time, Barney Ward.
The book is 172 pages, full colour, and has around 520 cover illustrations.


Reviews
(to come)

Thursday, September 7, 2023

The Trials of Hank Janson [New Edition]


SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOLD DAGGER AWARD FOR NON-FICTION

The Trials of Hank Janson
Published: 6 September 2023.
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 318 pages of cream paper with matte cover. Also available as a casebound hardback and on Kindle. Please note that not all formats are available in all territories.

SOFTCOVER

Amazon UKAmazon US Amazon DE Amazon FR Amazon ES Amazon IT Amazon NL Amazon PL Amazon SE Amazon JP Amazon CA Amazon AU

HARDCOVER

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon DE Amazon FRAmazon ESAmazon IT
Amazon NL
Amazon PL


SIGNED COPIES

If you want signed copies of the book or a copy in hardback in territories where Amazon do not supply, contact me directly at the address below the photo (top right).

THE TRIALS OF HANK JANSON

A perfect storm of paper shortages and fly-by-night publishers in the years after World War II led to a boom in cheaply produced American-style hard-boiled crime fiction. Hank Janson, dubbed the ‘Best of Tough Gangster Authors’—in truth a south London former shipping clerk turned publisher—sold five million copies of his novels to a public who craved excitement and escapism in Hank’s violent, sexually charged world.

The courts took a more damning view, destroying hundreds of thousands of paperbacks and magazines that were judged obscene. Janson’s novels, with their voluptuous pin-up covers, were a regular target, but requests for guidance from authorities went unanswered. Then, Janson’s publisher and distributor were arrested, tried and jailed.

This is the story of Hank Janson, of his creator Stephen D Frances, and how, out of the ashes of destruction orders levelled at cheap gangster novels, the Obscene Publications Act was reformed.

THE TRIALS OF HANK JANSON was a runner-up for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Golden Dagger Award. This revised and expanded edition reveals more of the background and people behind the much-maligned  author whose books eventually sold twenty million copies, were translated widely, and who had an arrest warrant issued, should he dare to return to the UK from his home in Spain.

This new edition of the book reinstates a chapter missing from for the original edition, as well as adding information not available twenty years ago.


REVIEWS

"I always assumed Hank Janson was a tough ex cop turned writer living in the Bronx.Now I find he was a rather mild Englishman but still a great writer who's books sold in their millions. This is a very well researched bio with some great photos. The guy had a strange and hard life and worked hard at his craft.Literary snobs turn up their noses at the name Hank Janson but you can't argue with massive sales and this book confirms that he was one of the best modern day writer's. A great behind the scenes read."—Amazon. (5 stars)

"This fine book is several stories in one volume: a biography of Stephen Frances, author of pulp thrillers and other works of popular literature; an account of the "life" of Frances' best-known creation and occasional alter ego, Hank Janson; the tale of seat-of-the pants publishing in postwar England; and a chapter in the long 20th Century history of moral authority attempting to suppress books people want to read, the low rent district not far from Lady Chatterley's farm. Steve Holland's prose is clear and he sorts deftly through the sometimes complex accounts of who published whom under which names, sometimes with unclear attribution or authorship. The court cases are largely portrayed through transcripts, some of which reach Carrollian depths of assumed guilt before the trial even begins. Altogether, this book is mostly the story of a writer during the last great age of fictioneering, pumping out several books a month across multiple genres, successful enough and proud of his art even in the face of blue nosed persecution. It's a great story."—Bill Wallace, Goodreads (4 stars)

"Steve Holland has done a great job in presenting the facts how Hank Janson aka Stephen Frances was stitched up by the Justiciary under the all embracing Obscene Publications Act This is the definitive book that every Hank Janson fan will want to read."—Amazon. (4 stars)

"
What a fascinating book! A cracking read and so well written. Holland keeps our interest from start to finish. We follow a rough chronological order of the life and times and events in Stephen Frances / Hank Janson's life. Holland never lets go of his objective to focus on censorship and prosecutions in the 50s and also letting us behind the veil in seeing a man whose life was dedicating to writing."—Amazon (5 stars)

Sunday, March 26, 2023

On the Queen's Service by J. J. G. Bradley


On the Queen's Service by J. J. G. Borlase
Published: 26 March 2023.
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 404 pages of cream paper with matte cover. Also available as a casebound hardback and on Kindle. Please note that not all formats are available in all territories.

Amazon UK -- Amazon US -- Amazon DE -- Amazon FR -- Amazon ES -- Amazon IT -- Amazon NL -- Amazon PL -- Amazon SE -- Amazon JP -- Amazon CA -- Amazon AU

Also available on Kindle in the following territories:

Amazon BR -- Amazon MX --Amazon IN


ON THE QUEEN'S SERVICE
James Bond meets Indiana Jones in this fast-paced thriller set in part around the action of the Crimean War.

The year is 1855 and Harry Dunbar is sent by Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on a mission to deliver two messages to Istanbul. Before he has even left England, Harry finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun—and that's just the start of an adventure that will see him ambushed and trapped in the Alps, tracked by secret police, captured by Cossacks, tortured, attacked by wild animals and cannibals, and battling a madman in a hot-air balloon.
    Will Harry survive long enough to join the British troops as they march into the Valley of Death?

Originally serialised in The Boy's Standard in 1875-76, reprinted in Boy's Leisure Hour in 1884 and subsequently reissued in 12 penny parts by Hogarth House, On the Queen's Service has been out of print for over a century.

From the Introduction

"What may surprise the reader is that the story is told clearly and straightforwardly, with none of the florid prose often associated with Victorian literature. Borlase knew how to keep his readers happy and that was to pile incident upon incident to keep the story moving and, as such, it resembles the kind of thriller that remains popular in book and film to this day, with Harry Dunbar an early James Bond. The story has its outrageous moments, but no more than an Indiana Jones movie, which it also resembles in places."

About the Author

J. J. G. Bradley was the pen-name of James Skipp Borlase (1839-1909), Cornish-born solicitor, magazine editor and writer. He began selling stories at the age of 19, became infamous in Australia and returned to England where his stories and novels found a ready market in 'penny-dreadfuls'. After a decade writing for Sons of Britannia, Young Briton and Boy's Standard, he found far greater success penning serials for syndication in newspapers. His books, most notably The Night Fossickers, are highly collectable.

"The secret of Mr. Borlase's immense popularity as a romance writer seems to be that he dashes at once into the full interest and excitement of his subject, and doesn't allow that excitement and interest to flag for a single instant until he has reached the last line of the last chapter ... Heaping thrilling incident atop thrilling incident, keeps the reader's attention on a perpetual strain, and his excitement at perfect fever-pitch, until the startling climax is reached"—Ipswich Journal.

Reviews

"I would highly recommend On the Queen’s Service, a Tale of Many Lands. As far as penny dreadfuls go it was the perfect choice for a reprint, a classic example of the genre, authored by one of the best of the penny parts novelists of the 1870s. All the Boy’s Standard/Hogarth House titles by J.J.G. Bradley are well worth the reading. It leaves me wanting more of the same, particularly when they are presented as attractively as this title, with the care and attention that they deserve." - John Adcock, Yesterday's Papers.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Andrew Forrester, Jun. — The Private Detective, Secret Service, The Female Detective


In April 2008, interest in Andrew Forrester, Jun., leapt with the publication of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher; or, The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale, although his mention was only in a footnote relating to the publication of a pamphlet about a Victorian murder case know as the Road Hill Murder. A brief essay on the author J. Redding Ware appeared on Bear Alley on 6 May 2008, which also further established the links between journalist and author Ware and the pseudonymous Forrester.

Forrester's The Female Detective (1864) was reprinted in 2012 as part of the British Library's Crime Classics series, cementing the notion that its heroine, Miss Gladden, was "the first female detective", although whether that is the case is challenged in the essay on Ware and his career published in this new edition of the collection — published now in a uniform edition with Forrester's two earlier collections, The Revelations of a Private Detective (1863) and Secret Service; or, Recollections of a City Detective (1864), reprinted for the first time in 150 years.


THE REVELATIONS OF A PRIVATE DETECTIVE

I MAY as well say, at once, that this statement never could have been made had I not been, as I remain, an admirer of Edgar Allan Poe; and if ever I have time, I hope to show that his acts were the result, not so much of a bad, as a diseased mind. For one thing, I believe his eyes were affected with an inequality of sight, which, in itself, was enough to overbalance a very exciteable brain.
    But Poe has nothing to do with my statement, except as its prompter. My name is John Pendrath (Cornish man, as I dare say you see in a moment), my age. is twenty-eight, and I live with my sister Annie. We are all that are left of our family, which you must see by the name was equally good and old. I need not say what I am; because, though I feel no shame for my work, I do not care about it, and hope, some day, when the Lord Chancellor wakes up, to be able to go back to Cornwall.
    However, it seems I am writing about myself, and that is not my intention; which, indeed, is to show how much individual good such a writer as even the condemned Edgar Poe can do, and even on this side of the Atlantic.
So begins “Arrested on Suspicion” a tale of false arrest as Pendrath tries to prove that his sister has been falsely arrested on suspicion of shoplifting. Using his knowledge of  Poe, he first discovers the hiding place of a fragment of paper, then uses his skills at solving a doubly-encrypted cipher — an early use of cryptography in British fiction.

The Revelations of a Private Detective contains 13 tales of mystery and crime, ranging from the fleecing of a dying man of his savings, the stealing of precious jewellery during a railway journey, and a scam to defraud a life insurance policy, to stories of reluctant divorcees and witnesses, forgery, conmen, and kleptomania.


SECRET SERVICE; OR, THE RECOLLECTIONS OF A CITY DETECTIVE
A coroner’s inquest sat upon the body of the deceased, and returned an open verdict of “Found drowned.” Some people in the town and neighbourhood, among whom were the Newtons, professed much grief at the calamity . . . How, or for what reason, they could not tell; but here was the death, it might be by accident, or it might be by suicide, in a state of drunkenness, of their predecessor, not long after they had lost every thing (as they in the freedom of their language said they had) through a fire on the premises.
    The insurance company heard of the death of Mr. Paterson, and the secretary got it into his head that the Newtons were incendiaries and murderers—that they had killed this man for some evil reason best known to themselves. He consulted the solicitors of the company, and they employed me to sift the mystery, and, if it turned out that the secretary’s suspicions were justifiable, to spare no trouble or expense in obtaining evidence upon which to prosecute the alleged miscreants.
    I went down secretly, and investigated all the circumstances as far as I could. I collected a variety of little scraps of fact, which left no doubt in my mind that the secretary was right. I came, indeed, to the conclusion that these Newtons were the vilest wretches who had for a long time been permitted to escape the hangman.
The follow-up to “The Private Detective” features 17 stories in very much the same style as its predecessor. The anonymous narrator reveals how he introduces a fake candidate in order to “spin” a local election; how a “plant” is used in the snatching of wages; how financial frauds are enacted; how an innocent servant was accused of theft; and how an incendiary gang was used in an insurance fraud.


THE FEMALE DETECTIVE
I am aware that the female detective may be regarded with even more aversion than her brother in profession. But still it cannot be disproved that if there is a demand for men detectives there must also be one for female detective police spies. Criminals are both masculine and feminine—indeed, my experience tells me that when a woman becomes a criminal she is far worse than the average of her male companions, and therefore it follows that the necessary detectives should be of both sexes.
    Let it suffice, once for all, that I know my trade is a despised one, but that being a necessary calling I am not ashamed of it. I know I have done good during my career, I have yet to learn that I have achieved much harm, and I therefore think that the balance of the work of my life is in my favour. . .
    I may also point out, while engaged upon these opening lines, that in a very great many cases women detectives are those who can only be used to arrive at certain discoveries. The nature of these discoveries I need here only hint at, many of them being of too marked a character to admit of their being referred to in detail in a work of this character, and in a book published in the present age. But without going into particulars, the reader will comprehend that the woman detective has far greater opportunities than a man of intimate watching, and of keeping her eyes upon matters near which a man could not conveniently play the eavesdropper.
A key text for researchers and readers of mystery and crime stories, The Female Detective features one of the earliest appearances of a woman police detective, the mysterious “G”—also known as Miss Gladden—who narrates her adventures among the criminal classes in a rational, realistic manner. The collection contains stories based upon two horrific real-life cases: the Thames Carpet Bag Mystery and the Road Murder, the latter the inspiration for Kate Summerscale’s award-winning book, which became the TV series The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

All three books include the essay "J. Redding Ware: The Man Behind Andrew Forrester, Jun." by Steve Holland, exploring the three Forrester books and Ware's career as a writer, journalist, translator and editor. It also answers the question: which came first — The Female Detective or Revelations of a Lady Detective?

Order Now
(Please note: prices may vary because of the way Amazon calculates postage & packing rates and its fees. Orders via Lulu's bookstore may appear priced in US dollars — it's an American company — but payment in UK sterling will not incur any fees.)

The Revelations of a Private Detective — order from Lulu - order from Amazon (to follow)
Published: September 2021
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 196 pages of cream paper with matte cover.

Secret Service; or, Recollections of a City Detective order from Lulu - order from Amazon (to follow)
Published: September 2021
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 198 pages of cream paper with matte cover.

The Female Detective order from Lulu - order from Amazon (to follow)
Published: September 2021
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 198 pages of cream paper with matte cover.

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Bill Kellaway quartet by Gwyn Evans


“You have heard of a man who, for a wager, offered to sell genuine sovereigns—in the days of sovereigns—at sixpence a time on London Bridge, and not a soul would buy them.”
    “Yes,” said Kellaway. “But you don’t surely mean that—that your offer is on a par with that?”
    Dr. Lenoir nodded.
    “My question is perfectly genuine,” he answered.
    “Would you like a million pounds—and if so, are you prepared to fulfil the necessary conditions?”
    Kellaway glanced sharply at his companion’s pale, impassive face. It was as expressionless as the bronze Sphinx itself.
    “Of course I could do with a million quid—who couldn’t?” he said. “The point is, who’s going to give it me, and what have I got to do to get it?”

“Hercules, Esq.” by Gwyn Evans introduces Bill Kellaway, a brash, bright young ex-reporter who had spent years in Africa, returning to England when Egypt regained its sovereignty. When readers first meet Bill he is at his lowest. Penniless, he stands by Cleopatra's Needle on Victoria Embankment, wondering where he can find the money to pay for a cigarette... and then he feels a hand touch his sleeve and a voice asks: "Would you like a million pounds, my friend?"

A born venturer, Kellaway follows the stranger and finds himself at the whim of a group of millionaires who challenge him to complete six tasks that will acquaint him well with the underworld. On condition that his agreement remains a secret and that he makes no attempt to identify his employers, or seek their help if arrested, Kellaway receives the first of his six "labours" in a note attached to a dead body.

Following his first adventure, Kellaway surfaced again in The Homicide Club to face the strange, exclusive Q Club, its membership limited to five, all millionaires and men of vicious character. To relieve the tedium of their wealth, they devise a contest in which each attempts to commit the perfect crime. Symphony Sam becomes their unwilling agent and Bill Kellaway a potential member. Bill joins, but on learning of their criminal activities, determines to wage a secret war against them…


In Satan Ltd., Quentin Steele, the leader of the Shadow Club, is on the verge of collapse through an overstrained heart, when Bill Kellaway finds him and takes him to his rooms. Here he is urged to take the place of Steele as leader of the Club. Partly because of his love of adventure, and partly because of his whole-hearted approval of the aims of the Club, Kellaway agrees. His adventures thereafter make absorbing reading.

And, finally, in The Return of "Hercules, Esq.", Sam Hicks, better known as ‘Symphony Sam’ has turned detective and stars in three thrilling stories—“The Man from Abyssinia,” “The Secret of All Baba's Jars,” and “The Man with the Diamond Mask.” With the aid of ex-Fleet Street newspaperman and eccentric millionaire Bill Kellaway, the pluperfect Henry Henry, and the calmly efficient Miss Candy Lee, he sets up the S.S. Detective Bureau and opens its office directly opposite Scotland Yard—to the intense fury of Detective-Inspector Barker, who wants nothing more than to put Sam back in clink.

Created in 1928, the first Bill Kellaway novel, Hercules, Esq., was a great success, serialised in teh pages of Union Jack before appearing in hardcovers in both UK and USA. Even as a sequel appeared, the film rights to the debut novel sold for a then-staggering £3,000 —the equivalent of over £130,000 today. Evans reputedly spent his share within a fortnight, hosting some of the brightest, booziest parties Chelsea had ever seen, and not one of his creditors saw a penny from his payout.

About the author

Gwyn Evans (1898-1938) was born in Bangor, North Wales, the son of a Weslyan minister. He turned to writing fiction after a brief career as a journalist in Egypt. He is best known for his tales of Sexton Blake, written in the Golden Age of the detective. His slick, racy style, colourful characters and bizarre plots led one editor to exclaim: “He turned out stuff like a factory, nearly all of it superlatively clever.”

The mercurial Evans lived in the heart of Bohemia and was a heavy smoker and a heavy drinker, which eventually led to his early death at the age of 39.

For much more on Evans, read Gwyn Evans: The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poete, written by Steve Holland, which is now available in a similar 6" x 9" format to the four Bill Kellaway novels, with a portrait of Evans on the front cover. The earlier, larger (A4), heavily illustrated version is also still available from Bear Alley Books.

Details

Hercules, Esq. by Gwyn Evans
Published: 25 January 2021
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 244 pages on cream paper with matte cover.

The Homicide Club by Gwyn Evans
Published: 25 January 2021
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 208 pages on cream paper with matte cover.

Satan Ltd by Gwyn Evans
Published: 25 January 2021
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 150 pages on cream paper with matte cover.

The Return of "Hercules, Esq." by Gwyn Evans
Published: 25 January 2021
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 182 pages on cream paper with matte cover.

Gwyn Evans: The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet by Steve Holland
Published: 25 January 2021
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 92 pages on cream paper with matte cover.

Reviews

"Bill Kellaway is admirably resourceful in a number of criminally compromising situations. The challenges or labours (a device Evans anticipates ahead of Christie’s own short story collection), build up in complexity, until the final one (which somewhat crystallises the comedic quality of the book) ... The narrative is packed with action and I think readers will have a lot of fun with [Hercules, Esq.] and there are some genuine moments of laugh out loud humour. I can understand why the film rights for this book were snapped up and even today I could envisage it being a very enjoyable one-off TV series." — Cross Examining Crime.

"What a hook! Perform six tasks and get a million pounds — and this appeared first in the 1930!! The story drives along really well. Each task is easy to understand (one being slightly cryptic) but the execution of each may not be so easy! ... This reminded me of The Thirty-Nine Steps but only in terms of entertainment. The story appears similar at first but Hercules Esq. is a singularly exciting and intriguing novel... and there are more in this reprint series!" — Goodreads, 5 stars!

"
Although there’s some criminous stuff going on and Bill often finds himself vying against or working with various lawbreakers, the stakes are never really life and death in this book ... There is some slam-bang action, though, as well as a smart, really likable protagonist and a lot of really clever plot twists, but what really makes HERCULES ESQ. work is Evans’s style, which is consistently breezy, fast-paced, and funny." — James Reasoner, Rough Edges.

Order Now
(please note: orders via Lulu's bookstore may appear priced in US dollars — it's an American company — but payment in UK sterling will not incur any fees.)

Click on the pictures to order:


All five books are also available via Amazon
(please note: price may vary because of the way Amazon calculates postage & packing rates and its fees)

Hercules Esq. —  Amazon.
The Homicide ClubAmazon.
Satan Ltd.Amazon.
The Return of "Hercules Esq."Amazon.
Gwyn Evans: The Lunatic, the Lover and the PoetAmazon.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Longbow — Volumes 1 & 2


Doctor Jim Bennett had a strange secret -- he was also Longbow the last of the Cheyenne -- a white man who had been brought up as the son of a Cheyenne chief. In moments of danger, he would quietly steal out of Powder Creek and head for a hidden grove of giant redwood trees which lay beyond Cheyenne Crest. Before the mightiest of the redwood trees -- the tree of the Great Spirit which bore the sacred mark of the Cheyenne and which was guarded by Longbow's magnificent stallion, Flying Star...

Longbow, the last of the Cheyenne, is the latest character to be resurrected by Bear Alley Books, his over seventy adventures collected in two volumes filled with the amazing artwork of Don Lawrence, Geoff Campion, Jesus Blasco, Juan Gonzalez Alacreu, Keith Shone, R. Charles Roylance, Frank Humphris, Gerry Haylock, Rodney Sutton, Francisco Cueto, Cesar Lopez and Martin Salvador. 

Volume One includes a history of the character revealing his origins a decade earlier in the shape of Strongbow the Mohawk, how the strip mixed old and new stories by Mike (Trigan Empire) Butterworth and how his adventures were to continue following a merger. There are extensive biographies of five of Longbow's artists (Campion, Lawrence, Shone, Roylance and Blasco), plus a bonus feature, 'Along Indian Trails' introduced by Longbow.

Volume Two continues the story as Steve Winders delves into the history of Blackbow the Cheyenne in the pages of Eagle and how the character changed under the pen of Ted (Robot Archie, The Spider) Cowan and brush of artist Frank Humphris.

Humphris is one of the artists contributing to this volume, which also contains extensive biographies not only of Blackbow's long-time artist, but the remaining six who contributed to the Longbow saga: Francisco Cueto, Juan Gonzalez Alacreu, Gerald Haylock, Martin Salvador, Rodney Sutton and Cesar Lopez. This volume continues the bonus feature 'Along Indian Trails', introduced by Longbow.

Hoka-hey!

Details

Longbow Volume 1
by Mike Butterworth (author), Don Lawrence, Geoff Campion, Keith Shone, R. Charles Roylance, Jesus Blasco (artists)
Published: 21 August 2020
Format: A4 perfect bound, 134 b/w pages, with a full-colour cover by Don Lawrence

Longbow Volume 2 by Mike Butterworth (author), Don Lawrence, Geoff Campion, Keith Shone, R. Charles Roylance, Jesus Blasco, Francisco Cueto, Juan Gonzalez Alacreu, Gerry Haylock, Martin Salvador, Frank Humphris, Rodney Sutton, Cesar Lopez (artists)
Published: 21 August 2020
Format: A4 perfect bound, 140 b/w pages, with a full-colour cover by Don Lawrence

Order now
(please note: orders via Lulu's bookstore are priced in US dollars — it's an American company — but payment in UK sterling will not incur any fees.)

Click on the pictures to order:


Monday, April 6, 2020

Rocket: The First Space-Age Weekly


Although the “space-age” truly began in the autumn of 1957 when Sputnik beep-beeped around the globe for three weeks, the race to create a rocket that could propel a satellite into low Earth orbit had been underway for over a decade. Advances made during the Second World War led to the development of the rocket propulsion systems that would launch cosmonauts and astronauts into space in the early 1960s. Rocket was, some might say, ahead of its time. With its features on missiles and descriptions of three-stage rocketry, it mapped out a blueprint of how we might break the bonds of gravity and seek adventures beyond the stratosphere. Colourful comic strips gave its readers glimpses of the kinds of world that could be discovered in our solar system and in other galaxies—but it lasted a mere 32 weeks and was long gone by the time ham radio operators tuned in to hear the Russian satellite’s signal as it orbited 15 times a day, or citizens heard recordings of it on their regular news broadcasts.

These were the days when Dan Dare of Eagle and Captain Condor of Lion commanded a readership of over a million children between them, and dozens of other comics—and adult newspapers—had space heroes whose names still echo down the years: Jeff Hawke, Rick Random, JetAce Logan, Don Conquest, Space Kingley and Jet Morgan to name but a few. Capt. W. E. Johns and Patrick Moore were penning intergalactic adventures and Journey Into Space was the last evening radio show to attract a bigger audience than the television shows it was broadcast against.

With science fiction proving so popular, the question has to be asked: Why was Rocket such a failure? Hopefully Rocket: The First Space-Age Weekly will answer that question, looking at the strips and features that made up Rocket’s contents, the creators behind them, and revealing how the weekly paper was doomed from almost the moment the first issue hit the newsstands.

 
 
 

Hurricane and Champion: The Companion Papers to Valiant


Hurricane and Champion: The Companion Papers to Valiant

Bear Alley Books is proud to announce a new edition of Hurricane and Champion: The Companion Papers to Valiant. This updated index details the histories of both papers and reveals—some for the first time—the names of many of the creators behind the classic comic strips that filled their pages. It now includes information on the twelve associated annuals.

Heavily illustrated throughout, the new edition of Hurricane and Champion also includes an expanded creators' indexes covering both papers and annuals, and a new full-colour cover by Jordi Penalva.

In his introduction, Steve Holland describes how Hurricane (1964-65) went through four phases during its lifetime and reveals the many problems faced by Champion (1966) during its brief 15-issue run.


Reviews of the first edition:
  • "It's no easy feat to produce these accounts and Steve deserves praise for his hard work. The many changes of ownership that befell the Amalgamated Press titles, many finally coming to rest at Egmont (who now own almost every character first published by Fleetway Editions after 1st January 1970), means any documentation listing contributors and sales figures is scant ... Steve has nevertheless assembled a fascinating account of both titles."—John Freeman, Down the Tubes.
  • "Steve's feature article in this Hurricane and Champion book takes up 25 of its 48 pages and it, like the rest of the book, is heavily illustrated. The book is well worth the money."—Jeremy Briggs, Down the Tubes
  • "I can appreciate Hurricane and Champion far more now from a mature perspective, and even though I only have a couple of issues in my collection I found Steve's history of those comics a fascinating read. If I enjoyed it I'm sure that actual fans of those titles will be over the moon with this book."—Lew Stringer, Blimey!.

The Complete Eagles Over the Western Front

Eagles Over the Western Front
The complete story in one volume

Bear Alley Books is proud to announce the release of a collected volume containing all 116 episodes of Eagles Over the Western Front, the classic story of aerial warfare set during the days of the R.F.C. Created by Mike Butterworth and Bill Lacey and serialised in the pages of Look and Learn in 1971-73, Eagles was previously available in three volumes.

Bill Lacey's stunning artwork—with two-thirds of the story scanned from surviving original art boards—captures every terrifying moment as Harry Hawkes, the hero of Eagles Over the Western Front, joins the only recently founded Royal Flying Corps and, with only a few weeks training, is sent to France to fly scouting and observation missions over the enemy lines at Ypres.

By the time Harry arrives on the front, the British B.E.2c scouting planes have become "Fokker fodder" thanks to the German development of an interrupter gear that synchronized machine guns with the aircraft's propeller, which allows German pilots to fly their planes straight towards their target, firing through the propeller arc.

Harry eventually joins a squadron flying the Airco DH.2 in the era of aerial dogfights and faces some of his most challenging months as German ace Max Immelmann scores victory after victory against British pilots on his way to earning Germany's highest honour, the Pour le Mérite—the 'Blue Max'.

Author Mike Butterworth is better known for writing 'The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire', but his career began many years before as a scriptwriter and editor for the Amalgamated Press's Sun, where penned dozens of stories featuring historical characters (Billy the Kid, Dick Turpin, Robin Hood) as well as creating 'Max Bravo, the Happy Hussar' and 'Battler Britton'.  For Comet he wrote authentic historical dramas as well as creating the science fiction adventurer 'Jet-Ace Logan'. Editorially he created the innovative Playhour Pictures, Valentine and the teenage magazine Honey. A prolific novelist, he wrote crime thrillers, bodice-rippers and historicals under a variety of pen-names.

Bill Lacey's first strips appeared in 1951, although the best of his early work appeared in the pages of Super Detective Library, where he was the original artist for Rick Random and Blackshirt. Lacey's work appeared in dozens of comics in the 1950s and 1960s, including Mickey Mouse Weekly, Cowboy Picture Library, Knockout, Express Weekly, Thriller Picture Library, Princess, Film Fun, Valiant, Buster, Tiger and Lion; during this time his strips ranged from adaptations of western novels such as 'The Covered Wagon' to weird fantasy classics like 'Mytek the Mighty'. In the 1970s he drew extensively for Look and Learn and for a number of D. C. Thomson's boys' papers, Bullet, Crunch and Buddy.

Reviews
"While you would expect a comic strip about a fighter pilot to involve our hero jumping in his plane and flying off to shoot down many of the enemy before returning safely home, in Eagles, especially in the early stories, the reason for our hero not to make it back to base is more often because of mechanical failure of the aircraft he is flying rather than any enemy action against him. As for shooting down the enemy, it is a plot point in at least two of the stories in Volume 1 that Harry has not actually shot down a single German plane despite be considered a good pilot. It all makes for an ongoing story that is interesting in its non-conformity to the expected rules of an aviation comic strip and it certainly makes the reader think about the frailty of the planes that RFC pilots were flying back then without the safety of parachutes...
    __"Eagles Over The Western Front ... makes for an interesting and sometimes thoughtful read without missing out on the excitement or entertainment that one would expect of a good comic strip of its era. With more than half of all the pages in this book and its two sequels being scanned from the original art boards, the artwork quality is as good as it can possibly get and shows that Bear Alley Books can give well established companies, that are also reprinting similar B&W British comic strips from the era, a run for their money."—Jeremy Briggs, Down the Tubes

    Thursday, September 12, 2019

    And The Wheels Went Round by John Chisnall & Anthony Davis

    “On the last lap Bill takes a chance. With Rogliardo edging alongside as they enter the ultra-fast Malmédy bend, Beevers leaves his braking late to keep his opponent at bay but drifts slightly off-line and gets onto the marbles. The bike spins out of control allowing the Frenchman to sneak through to bag second place. Worse, the centrifugal force of the gyrating outfit throws Bill off leaving John heading for potential disaster with a trackside post looming up...”

    And the Wheels Went Round is a book of anecdotes and reminiscences about riding in the TT and throughout continental Europe where John Chisnall had the hair-raising job of dangling over the side of a bike doing 100 mph.

    Monday, December 3, 2018

    Forgotten Authors Volume 4

    More essays about long-forgotten authors whose work once entertained millions.

    J Redding Ware
    Creator of one of the first female detectives, a popular playwright, philologist and writer connected with cheap and popular literature who took umbrage at being described as an author of ‘mischievous literature.’

    William Nicholas Willis
    Controversial politician, horse dealer and land owner who kept the Australian courts busy before moving to the UK to write and publish books about slave trafficking, prostitution and sex education.

    M. Lehane Willis
    The mysterious author who, as Bree Narran, wrote candid novels and freely translated the works of Guy de Maupassant and Paul de Kock, but whose career ended in criminality.

    Charles McDonald Lindsay
    A former soldier, Lindsay wrote a book warning of what might happen if Germany invaded Britain and another about a man accused of murdering his business partner’s wife, and what happens when he meets the same man’s second wife.

    James Edward Crabtree
    Writer and journalist who penned the adventures of Gripton Court for boys in the early years of the 20th century.

    Randal Charlton
    A charismatic dandy married to a popular actress, Charlton was a Liberal journalist with a promising career and a couple of well-liked novels under his belt. But debts started to pile up…

    Eardley Beswick
    His first novels was acclaimed by Compton Mackenzie as “the most irresistibly absorbing novel,” but Beswick’s seemingly promising career as an author lasted only a matter of years before he left it behind.

    Olga Katzin
    Described as a “Russian writer and actress”, Olga was, in fact, born in London. An actress who ran the Katzin-Miller Repertory Company, who was also an accomplished playwright and poet.

    Donald Sinderby (Donald Ryder Stephens)
    Author of novels based on his experiences in India, including Mother-in-Law India, published in 1930 and set twenty years in the future when inter-caste conflict ravage the country after the end of the Raj.

    The case of the two Hazel Adairs
    Not to be confused—as this author did in the past—are Hazel Iris Addis, née Wilson, and Hazel Joyce Marriott, formerly Mackenzie, formerly Hamblin, née Willett, who both enjoyed careers under the name Hazel Adair.

    Eileen Owbridge
    For some years Owbridge ran a village bookshop, learning precisely what the romance-reading public wanted and turning that knowledge into sixty novels for Mills & Boon.

    Alan Melville (W. Allan Caverhill)
    Crime writer, well-reviewed by Dorothy L. Sayers and Sydney Horler, who turned to writing plays and revues, as well as becoming a popular broadcaster on, and writer for, TV and radio.

    Enid Florence Brockies
    Author—as Countess Helene Magriska—of romantic novels that found a steady readership in the 1930s and 1940s but whose career was cut short by her early death.

    Anita Hewett
    A teacher and radio producer, Hewett was also a writer of children’s short stories for radio and in print. Her animal tales were very popular and her book Mrs Mopple’s Washing Line was adapted on TV several times.

    Friday, August 24, 2018

    Iron Mask:Harry Bensley's "Walking Round the World" Hoax

    On 1 January 1908, in London's Trafalgar Square, a man in an old-fashioned iron helmet began an adventure that was to take him to 172 towns and cities in the United Kingdom before heading overseas to visit another 118 cities in Canada, USA, South America, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Japan, China, India, Egypt and seven European countries.

    Although independently wealthy, the man in the iron mask was allowed to finance his trip only through the sale of postcards and pamphlets relating to his journey from a pram that he was to push for the duration of the journey and at no point was he allowed to reveal his identity. The final challenge was that, despite keeping his face hidden, he had to find a wife.

    This astonishing journey was the result of a $100,000 (£21,000) bet between the Earl of Lonsdale and steel and banking magnate J. P. Morgan and the daring masked man had almost completed the round the world trip six years later and was on the point of collecting what would today be the equivalent of £2,250,000 when the bet was cancelled.

    This is the story of that journey.

    This is also the story of how Harry Bensley, released from jail for fraud and bigamy, dreamed up an astonishing hoax. Disguised behind his iron mask, Bensley trekked south from London, along the southern counties and into the west country, visiting towns, attracting crowds and selling his postcards. He claimed to have met and married a woman, although she was already known to him. He was even tried in a court of law without once giving his real name.

    Iron Mask is the story of that journey, too!

    This book takes a look behind the legend of the "Walking Round the World" hoax, revealing the impoverished origins of Bensley and his family and documenting a criminal path that was the lead to his most audacious deception.


    REVIEWS

    Amazon - 5 stars
    The story sounds like an implausible Hollywood film but it was true! Who was the Man in the Iron Mask (no, not the French novel by Dumas!)? He set off from Trafalgar Square to push a pram around the world in January 1908 to win a £20,000 bet! he seems to have been a lovable rogue and this was not the first time he had hoodwinked people! I won't say more so I don't spoil the story as it's wilder than even this!
        Steve Holland has preserved a wonderful British eccentric's story for us all to enjoy. Give it as a Birthday or Christmas present to anyone who's curious about people in any way!


    Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Forgotten Authors Volume 3

    More essays about long-forgotten authors whose work once entertained millions.

    Mysteries of the House of Harrison & Viles
    The story of Edward Harrison, publisher of the first ‘penny dreadful’ for boys and the first upmarket magazine for women, and his partner Edward Viles, the author of Black Bess, at 2¼ million words the longest-running penny dreadful of them all.

    Walter Viles
    The tragic career of the prolific, popular, inebriated brother of Edward Viles.

    Dempster Heming
    The first in a pair of essays about the younger brothers of Bracebridge Hemyng who were also writers. After years in Myanmar and India, Dempster Heming created the Munchausen-esque Colonel Bowlong for a series of tall tales.

    Philip Heming
    Following in his brother’s footsteps, Philip Heming struggled as a writer and, later, as editor of the infamous London Life, was prosecuted for publishing indecent material.

    Mrs. Frances Campbell
    A successful Edwardian journalist and novelist before she lost her husband to suicide and become involved in some curious work on behalf of W. T. Stead.

    Phyllis Campbell and the Angels of Mons
    The daughter of Mrs. Frances Campbell whose article in Occult Review and subsequent book about her time on the Front during the Great War helped spread the myth of the Angels of Mons.

    W. Keppel Honnywill
    Author of The Master Sinner who leapt to his death in the heart of London.

    J. Weedon Birch
    Author of stories about a schoolboy named Billy Bunter before Frank Richards created Greyfriars School.

    Michael Storm (A. Ernest Hinshelwood)
    The most enigmatic of all Sexton Blake authors—and one of the best—who died tragically young and left behind a legacy of mystery that baffled fans and collectors for decades.

    Michael Storm (Charles Ignatius Sempill)
    The mystery of ‘Michael Storm’ continued… who was the author—seemingly related to the mysterious long-dead writer of Sexton Blake—who resurrected his most famous pen-name?

    George Hamilton Teed
    To many he was Sexton Blake’s finest author, but George Hamilton Teed began his career in dead man’s shoes… as the ghost of Michael Storm.

    Michael Storme (George H. A. Dawson)
    Author of Unlucky Virgin, Kiss The Corpse Goodbye and Hot Dames on Cold Slabs accused by an M.P. of writing pornography.

    Friday, February 2, 2018

    Forgotten Authors Volume 2

    More essays about authors whose work entertained millions but who are now almost wholly forgotten.
    Amazon review of Volume 1:
    An excellent book on thirteen forgotten British authors. It covers authors who wrote in the Victorian to the post World War II eras. Some of the authors featured are Morley Adams, Dail Ambler, Gerald Biss, Stella M. During, and Alexander Wilson. Recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of books, book publishing, obscure authors or even researching family history. Looking forward to Volume 2
    Bracebridge Hemyng: The rise and fall of the Heming family was mirrored by the career of the most famous of the writing dynasty that emerged from it—the creator of Jack Harkaway, enticed to America with the promise of $10,000 a year but who returned with nothing to show for his success.

    Philip Richards: Who was the author behind the continuation of Bracebridge Hemyng’s most famous creation, Jack Harkaway?

    Frank Barrett (Frank Davis): Writer of novels that ranged from crime, historical to romance and science fiction, earning their author comparison (although not always favourably) to Wilkie Collins and Robert Louis Stevenson.

    Ernest Protheroe: A former teacher and incredibly prolific writer for boys and girls under a variety of names who was probably more successful with his non-fiction than his novels.

    Charles Granville (Charles Hosken): Publisher, editor, novelist, poet, businessman, bankrupt, bigamist, thief… the extraordinary life of Charles Hosken, who wrote crusading novels as he defrauded all around him.

    Louise Heilgers: Her literary gifts were highly praised, but her writing career was overshadowed by tragedy, a succession of failed businesses and a headline-grabbing escape abroad with her “husband”…

    C. E. Vulliamy: Historian, biographer and satirist, a writer of memoirs of imaginary Victorians who also penned crime novels under his own name and as Anthony Rolls.

    Evelyn Winch: Author of the popular but now forgotten The Girl in the Flat, Winch was queen of the “thriller-romance” in the 1930s before her life ended in tragedy.

    Frederick Foden: Author who churned out 75 violent and sexually-charged tough-guy gangster yarns in four years, while he himself was a bachelor who lived with his mother.

    David Roberts: Writer behind the weekly adventures of world travelling Gulliver guinea-pig and fairy tale heroine Princess Marigold, Roberts helped entertain and shape the minds of millions of youngsters as both a scriptwriter and creator of children’s magazines.