There Were No Asper Ladies by Eugene Ascher, Mitre Press, 1944

Post-war British pulps

Found - part of a letter to Peter Haining from W.O.G. ('Bill') Lofts about an intended book on post-war British pulps. Neither WorldCat or Copac show such a book among Lofts's oeuvre.The manuscript could possibly be among Haining's papers which we are still sifting through. Almost all  of the authors mentioned can be found at the Sf Encyclopaedia site but even there details can be quite scant. Some of these pulps are now quite valuable - There Were No Asper Ladies, for example, features an occult detective (Lucian Carolus) and is a full blown vampire novel.

Dear Peter,

Many thanks for your list of fifties books. An interesting little list as well. As I said, I'll return the favour at the top of the list and work my way down (so expect some jumping about!).

I don't; know anything about David Scott-Moncrieff, apart from the act that he had a second collection of horror stories. They were published in 1948 and 1949.

I'm a bit stronger on the next one - good old John Spencer. This was one of their earliest publications, in 1948, one of four pulp size magazines - two more crime and one western mostly written by N. Westley Firth, about whom little is known. He died very young in 1949 of TB, having written for four years, but managed to produce something like four and a half to five million words of material for all all sorts of publications, and used about 100 different names - I'm probably the biggest authority of Firth amongst old gangster collectors, and I don't even know two thirds of them! One I do know is Leslie Halward, author of "Arrest Ace Lannigan", published by Bear, Hudson in 1946. 'Ace' Lannigan was one of Firth's characters, although his most regular was the 'Professional Killer' who appeared in a few novels and lots of short stories. And here's the first of many connections amongst the publishers: Bear Hudson was run by Albert and Ellie Assael, Spencers was co-directed by Sol Assael (and his brother Henry ran Hamilton & co.,)

Hyman Kaner was a Welsh writer who published a number of collections and  couple of SF hardbacks under his own imprint. He also published a couple of other authors under the Kaner imprint, but I don't know anything else about him, apart from those books.

Eugene Ascher on the other hand I do know, and this is a bit of information very few people know about yet (I was saving it for the book, but don't mind telling other researchers - I mean, we're all in this together!). Ascher was the pseudonym of Harold Ernest Kelly, better known as Darcy Glinto. Kelly died in 1969 but this brother Hector is still alive, or was the last time I was in touch with him and gave me a little background to his publishing companies (Robin Hood press and Hector Kelly) which he ran in the late forties until around 1952 when they were summonsed on two occasions for publishing obscene books in the form of Harold's Glinto novels. They were never jailed or anything like that, although many publishers were... Kelly was so disgusted by the whole set-up that he gave up publishing and went into other business, importing and distribution, and acting as his brothers agent, which is how the book There Were No Asper Ladies came to be reprinted by the Robin Hood Press, and later still re-sold to World Distributors Ltd. 

(He also wrote as Preston Yorke, and under the house name Hank Janson). 

R. Thurston Hopkins was a noted ghost-hunter whom you probably know about anyway - the Mitre Press was a prolific publisher in the War and immediate post-War period. They produced many short novels and collections in paperback format, and acted as printers and distributors for many other small companies. They survived the bad times and ended up publishing many technical manuals and other hardbacks. 

Gerald Swan is one of my favourite, sadly he died a couple of years ago, and I ended up doing a short piece for Denis Gifford and the Association of Comics Enthusiasts last year about his many publications. Weird and Occult Library was amongst his last ever publications, as he sold out his business in 1962. The mags date from 1960. Swan published many great juvenile magazines and annuals, and many adult magazines and kept going during the war whilst other publishers floundered with the paper shortage. And the bad thing is that Swan published many of the best contemporary authors (printing stories that the authors couldn't sell to anyone else) and nobody has ever produced any sort of Index to the Swan publications, and that is one of the projects I''m working on in my spare time, with some extensive lists of publications already worked out, but still a long way to go. I'm also trying to contact many of the authors as I can, and all done at the same time as I work on the gangster/fifties publishers book!

Denis Hughes is a mystery chap whom none of his contemporaries ever heard of. Full name was Dennis Talbot Hughes, but no further biography known, except that he was very prolific for the publishers Curtis Warren, for whom he wrote about 50 SF novels under under many pen-names and also romance, western, and crime stories. He was one of the new breed of authors that appeared after the War, capable of churning out any style of story in any field at high speeds. You had to do that because the markets were so small, you had to be able to turn out what the publishers were after. It's the British equivalent to the American 'pulp' era, and there are many similarities - not surprising since many…[ends]

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4 thoughts on “Post-war British pulps

  1. Dr Donald Hopkins

    Mr Ascher states categorically that there are no Asper ladies, which may be true, but I can assure him that living within the Autism spectrum there are certainly Aspie ladies.

    Reply
  2. The Pulp Fiction Reader

    I'd love to hook up with Peter on such a project. I have tons of Mitre, Everybody's, Bear Hudson, Gerald G. Swan, etc on my shelves. Be great to get such a volume published, complete with colour photos, etc.

    Reply
  3. admin Post author

    Sadly Peter Haining died 8 years ago. You might have to go it alone or find a collaborator, there are many enthusiasts.

    Reply

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