Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Harlequin turns 60!

Let me tell you a story…or, how a small Canadian publishing company became one of the world’s most renowned publisher of romance novels.

Harlequin Enterprises was founded in Toronto, Canada in 1949 and began publishing reprints of British novels for Americans, including detective stories by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Mills and Boon was a British company founded in 1908 by Charles Boon and Gerald Mills. They began by publishing British authors, such as P. F. Wodehouse, but soon discovered there was a need for books written “for women, by women, from a woman’s perspective.” These types of books (or genre) were to become incredibly popular during the Great Depression when women needed something to make their lives a bit more bearable.

In 1957 Harlequin took over the rights to publish romance novels originally published by Mills and Boon. Harlequin would re-edit these romances for the American market, making them a bit more “racy” than their British counterparts. And Harlequin continued to re-issue British titles until in 1975 they published their first American author who wrote “about American characters for an American audience.” This author was Janet Dailey.

Today Harlequin, one of the largest publishers of romance novels and series, encompasses many divisions including Silhouette, Spice, Mira, Steeple Hill, Red Dress Ink and Luna. All of these divisions publish different flavors of romance for a total publishing record of over 500 titles per month.

The library has a large paperback Romance novel collection and many of these titles are published by Harlequin or one of its divisions. Some titles include:

Moonstruck by Susan Grant (a HQN paranormal romance)
An Accidental Hero by Loree Lough (a Steeple Hill inspirational romance)
Dying for You by Beverly Barton (a HQN romantic suspense title)
The Italian by Elaine Coffman (a Mira historical romance). Meg



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