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Paul Renin ‘Sex’ (1928?)

1950s issue, Many
thanks John Fraser.

Here’s a bit of a puzzler. Coming from the archive of Peter Haining and bearing annotations by him, this is a photocopy of a blurb for a book 'in preparation' entitled Sex, which is described as 'Paul Renin’s Latest, Greatest and Most Courageous Novel !' Now here’s the thing. Such a novel by Paul Renin—the pseudonym of someone called Richard Goyne (1902 – 57), who also wrote crime novels—did not seemingly appear, according to Abebooks, until 1951.

The copies available on Abebooks are described as the first U. S. editions from the publisher Archer of a romance concerning a 'sixteen year old runaway Girl in the South Seas' . However, the blurb announcing the forthcoming appearance of Sex is clearly in a typeface of the 1920s, which Haining’s annotation identifies as dating from 1928. This, of course,  was the year in which Lady Chatterley’s Lover appeared, and the blurb writer seems keen to emphasise that Sex was, like Lawrence’s novel, a mould-breaking literary event.

What of the parents who—for reasons of “delicacy” or hectic pursuit of their own gay lives—allow their children to grow up in perilous ignorance?

What if those boys and girls who, so neglected, are lured from the fireside” by distant, seductive callings” to learn “romance“ and its moods for themselves in “the little corners of the city where night steals early and danger lingers always” ?

There are the human, poignant problems with which Paul Renin is most fitted to deal. In Sex he tells a daring and a wonderful story. Of romance, of passion, of weak lovers old and young. Of great emotions and greater need. In Sex PAUL RENIN SPEAKS OUT FEARLESSLY.

We have not examined a copy of the 1928 book, if indeed it was published in this year. If its publication was held back until 1951, it may have been because the censors –perhaps provoked by the blurb—took action to prevent its appearance.. [RR]

The 1928 issue may not have happened (i.e. the book was a 'ghost') - an extensive search through WorldCat, Copac and the might Karlsruhe database reveals no edition earlier than 1942. This was published by pulpmeister Gerald Swan who was discussed in an earlier jot on London's markets.

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Professor Alexandre Lacassagne – a real Sexton Blake

Found in the endless Haining archive, an article cut from The Union Jack Detective Supplement, undated but about 1925. Peter Haining was a collector of Sexton Blake books so this piece on the scientific / forensic detective Professor Alexandre Lacassagne (1843-1924) would have interested him.

A Real Sexton Blake

By Donald Campbell.

They read like improbabilities, the achievements of this real-life Sexton Blake. But we credit them when we see the working methods of Professor Lacassagne, who has recently died.

  A few weeks ago there died at Lyons one of the greatest scientists of his own kind in the world.
This was Professor Alexandre Lacassagne, honorary professor to the Faculty of Medicine, who passed away at the ripe old age of eighty-two. He was the first man in Europe to apply science to detective work. He served as an officer in the army of Napoleon III., and fought through the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.He was taken prisoner. When released he was attached to the Bataillons d’Afrique, then a species of depot for all the rough characters who came to do their military service, usually very much against their wills.
  First he merely studied characters, but afterwards the real criminals, and specialized offenders who came under his treatment.

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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.

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Jack Trevor Story / Sexton Blake

Two attractive British pulps from Jack Trevor Story. He wrote at least 20 Sexton Blakes -there are those who say he wasted his talent on them -having written the state of the nation novel Live Now Pay Later (1963) and also the story on which Alfred Hitchcock's black comedy The Trouble with Harry is based. The Nine O'Clock Shadow title from 1958 qualifies as a rock and roll novel and is quite early in the canon. The other novel belongs in the murder in the suburbs category and is set among the amateur dramatic community… The Jack Trevor Story website has much on this prolific writer and its main quotation from his works comes from a slightly later Sexton Blake Danger's Child (1961) --

There is a sadness which grows from the seeds of remembered happiness; there is a weariness which springs unrequested from the remembered fountains of youth; there is a nostalgia conjured from faraway places and gone people and moments which have long since ticked into the infinite fog.

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Vampires in Literature 2

The second and last part of this extract from The Vampire in Literature: a Critical Bibliography (edited by Margaret L. Carter, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.: Umi Research Press 1989.) The types of vampire literature are broken down into categories. An amazing and comprehensive work that will probably be much longer if they bring it up to date.

In - Inanimate object, e.g., a house or a car, acts as a a vampire.
Examples: Benson, Edward Frederic. 'The Room in the Tower'. 1912.
Bloch, Robert. 'The Hungry House'. 1951.

J - Juvenile fiction.
Examples: Schoder, J. 'The Bloody Suckers'. 1981.
Scott, R. C. 'Blood Sport'. 1984.

L - Character functions a s vampire while still living, without passing through any form of death.
Examples: Giles, Raymond. 'Night of the Vampire'. 1969.

MN - Movie novelization. I note this fact wherever I am aware of it.
Examples: Johnson, Ken. 'Hounds of Dracula'. 1977.
Burke, John. 'Dr. Terror's House of Horrors'. 1965.

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Vampires in Literature 1

Found in the extensive Peter Haining book and ephemera collection - a xerox of The Vampire in Literature: a Critical Bibliography (edited by Margaret L. Carter, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.: Umi Research Press 1989.) Principally a bibliography of vampire fiction in English, but also covering drama, anthologies, nonfiction studies of vampires in literature, and including a checklist of non-English vampire stories readily available in translation. It follows Bleiler in using an alphabetical key to the different types of literature. The most disappointing is category H - '...Vampirism...explained away as a hoax, delusion, or misunderstanding.' Books with  'rationalised' plots are generally avoided by collectors of the supernatural. M.L. Carter does not seemed to have missed a trick, except possibly a genre that occurred more recently - the retelling of a classic story with vampires added…

Al - Vampire as member of a separate species, whether originating on Earth or not. Frequently the text leaves the point of origin unrevealed.
Examples: Baker, Scott. 'Nightchild'. 1983.
Dicks, Terrance. 'Doctor Who and the State of Decay'. 1981.

AlH - Alien, humanoid.
Examples: Asprin, Robert Lynn. 'Myth-ing Persons'. 1984.
Baker, Clive. 'Human Remains'. 1984.

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Pulp fiction art

This original artwork was one of three covers created for a number of 1940s pulp magazines published by a British company. The series was called the ‘Headline series’ because each story was built around a newspaper headline-- to be found sketchily depicted at the bottom left hand corner of each cover. The other two pieces of artwork were for Road to Nowhere and Road to Revenge—both stories by someone called Max Foster. There seem to have been at least 20 tales in this particular series.

In the ultimately futile three hundred year old debate that has raged regarding ‘high ‘ and ‘ low art’, such ‘ low’ art as these pulp fiction covers, is often derided for the poor quality of the  draughtsmanship, whereas the simple truth is that for pure draughtsmanship, as opposed to piercing originality or ‘ vision’, this art is often more impressive than that of many ‘ high’ artists. Next time you visit Tate Britain wander around the many rooms devoted to Turner and study the groups of figures that inhabit the foregrounds of his huge oil landscapes. You might be surprised at how inept our greatest painter could be at depicting the human figure.

Then return to the work of ‘low’ book illustrators and marvel at how well most of them could draw. [RMH]

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Tales from the Second Hand Book Trade 2

A bookseller specialist buys a large academic collection from an old professor--mostly sexology, sexual politics,folklore censorship and moral studies. He gets them for a reasonable sum, but part of the deal is that he takes 10,000 porno paperbacks stored in the outhouse. Reluctantly he hauls them all out and takes the paperbacks to the recycling where they are pulped. Pulp to pulp.

Painstakingly he lists the scholarly works and offers them to a University library that he has ties with. They reply that, sadly, they have most of these books and what they really need is actual porn paperback fiction, 'we have all the books on censorship' the librarian says 'what we need to work on is the material that was being censored - we need thousands of them, but I'm afraid we can only pay $10 each.'

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Horror in the Night by Richard Macgregor (aka MacGregor Urquhart )

A local dealer has this graphic artist's illustration for a lurid book cover. He thinks he may have bought it from someone selling a quantity of book cover illustrations on card (gouache, watercolour etc.,) by the railings on Bayswater Road about 30 years ago. Art (now mostly kitsch and worse) is still sold there every Sunday. Often these illustrations  have lettering so you can see the title, but not in this case, and no artist had signed either.

By sheer chance he found the actual book that had used the illustration - in a box of SF, fantasy and horror paperbacks.  The book was Horror in the Night, a short story collection by Richard Macgregor published by Digit in London in 1963. Not a lot is known about Macgregor, these were 5 short horror stories and he seems to have written 5 other books between 1963 and 1964 for Digit. Titles like The Deadly Sun, Creeping Plague, The Day a Village Died --- a category that came to be known as Doom Watch fiction, possibly post apocalyptic in content. A further book Taste of the Temptress came out in Sydney in the mid 1960s published by Eclipse, so he could have been Australian -this was also published by Digit so possibly not (also it seems he was from Essex - see the excellent Bear Alley.) As for the artist it could be one R.A. Osborne (1923 - 1973) art director of Digit at the time and responsible for many of their covers including Macgregor's Day a Village Died, the story of a village plagued by killer ants.

This piece first appeared at our old site Bookride and since then new information has come to light via dealer Cold Tonnage and the IMDB database. It seems that his real name was MacGregor Urquhart. IMDB's short biography says he 'was a writer and actor, known for The Powder Monkey (1951), John of the Fair (1951) and The Malory Secret (1951). He died on March 17, 1967.' His first work of fiction appeared in the early 1960s  so it seems that his writing career followed his spell in movies. Further investigation shows he was also a playwright with at least one published play Investigation. A Pay in Three Acts (Evans, London 1958.)

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An Ear for Murder

Found - a rare and sensational Australian pulp mystery/ thriller from the late 1940s. Unknown to online malls and the great bibliography of crime fiction by Allen J Hubin, although he lists other titles by Max Afford. It is titled An Ear for Murder (Frank Johnson, Sydney, no date). The inside cover reads:

This is a Magpie novel - read it now it will hold you to the end.
What manner of creature was this, to whom the slaying of his victim was not enough? What manner of foul beast was it whose bloody fingers must perform the further savagery of mutilation? What strange secrets lay behind the locked doors of the mysterious, corpse-guarded study? These are the questions answered by world-famous criminologist Jeffery Blackburn in this punch-packed story of murder on the loose. With thrills on every page, this grand story of crime and detection is a "must" for murder-fiction fans. You won't be able to put it down until you've turned the last page.

The book appears intelligent and well written , the sleuth's day job being a professor of higher mathematics. The claim on the cover 'No crime could be more horrifying in its ferocity' may be something of an exaggeration..the plot involves a crazed novelist, a millenarian sect and a titled British millionaire stockbroker. There are as many as 100 books in the Magpie series, not all thrillers or even fiction.