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Popular Authors of the 1920s and 1930s

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Showing 1-17 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 May 2012 12:36:42 BDT
lucyglitters says:
i love books published before ww2 (thank heaven for persephone and virago classics) and am trying to "discover" some not-so-literary authors - maybe writers of books for the "shop and mill girls" of the day? such as ethel m dell? something quite trashy anyway - just for a bit of fun - can anyone come up with any names? ps if anyone has similar tastes and hasn't yet discovered dorothea conyers, do give her a go!

Posted on 10 May 2012 13:42:47 BDT
Angular says:
Does Howard Spring fit the bill? There are quite a few suggestions on mid-brow female authors at

Posted on 10 May 2012 18:14:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 May 2012 18:22:11 BDT
E.M.Hull, author of "The Sheik", which became the Rudolph Valentino silent movie of the same name. That book and "The Shadow of The East" by the same author, both written in 1921, are available free from Project Gutenberg (just google for it.) You will find many other novels from the same period, listed by category and author, on the same website.
I hope you find some that you enjoy.

Posted on 10 May 2012 19:56:09 BDT
gille liath says:
In one of his novels, set in a bookshop, Orwell paired Dell - contemptuously - with someone called Deeping. 'Dukes and dogwhips!', he comments. I can tell ye nae mair...

Posted on 10 May 2012 22:23:12 BDT
Try Joan Butler. Mid war romantic comedy, which I still find funny now.

Not easy to find, though.

Posted on 11 May 2012 12:48:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 May 2012 12:49:04 BDT
lucyglitters says:
thanks for the suggestions - i'm probably looking for something more "low-brow"! but there's some good stuff to search for, i have no idea why i've never read "the sheik", as virago republished it and i've been meaning to for years

as for ethel m dell (rosie m banks, if you're a pg wodehouse fan) - i *love* the fact that she is reviled by other authors! molly keane (one of my favourite writers) has a similar dig at the wonderful dorothea conyers in "devoted ladies" - and of course, stella gibbons' "cold comfort farm" was written as a parody of the books of, among others, mary webb - another firm favourite

In reply to an earlier post on 11 May 2012 13:22:00 BDT
lucyglitters says:
ah - warwick deeping i suspect - probably worth looking into - thanks

In reply to an earlier post on 11 May 2012 13:28:58 BDT
gille liath says:
Aye, that rings a bell...

In reply to an earlier post on 11 May 2012 22:45:13 BDT
M. Dowden says:
Lindsey Brooks, thanks for the heads up on The Sheik. I have been meaning to get that for some time. Thanks. : )

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 17:17:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2012 18:21:06 BDT
LEP says:
Did you know that Ethel M Dell's books are now classified as 'modern classics'? If she were alive now, no doubt she'd be laughing up her sleeve as she is now categorised the same as her mockers.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 17:23:30 BDT
lucyglitters says:
and so they should be!

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 17:24:58 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2012 17:32:22 BDT
LEP says:
Apart from Ethel M Dell, the only ones I know of are Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer and the latter certainly is not trashy. There's Barbara Neels, but she may be later. In fact, you're after what used to be called "Penny Dreadfuls", apparently, according to my mother anyway. Although having looked the term up, it was used in Victorian times and after to describe cheap books aimed at adolescent readers e.g. Sweeney Todd etc.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 17:29:27 BDT
lucyglitters says:
well, more the sort of thing that was aimed at "mill girls" and "shop girls" - i believe, but i may be wrong, that molly keane's books were originally published by mills & boon - imagine!

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 17:33:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2012 18:22:43 BDT
LEP says:
According to that programme on M & B, one or two years ago, at least one of the original romance writers used was just ordinary i.e. a shop girl or typist. They realised that there was a market for cheap romantic books and ran a competition for new authors.

From a history of M & B I found, here's a few romance authors:
By 1929 best selling authors were:
Denise Robbins
Elizabeth Carfrae
Sophie Cole
Louise Gerard

Jan Tempest

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2012 13:10:31 BDT
lucyglitters says:
oh, that looks interesting - i'll look them up - thanks! i grew up reading my mother's novels (ethel m dell, georgette heyer and the jalna series) and i still hanker for pre-war books - much as i love the "good" stuff published by virago and persephone, i find stories of ordinary people in those days really fascinating (maurice walsh is another favourite and the williamsburg novels of elswyth thane get read over and over)

In reply to an earlier post on 25 May 2012 10:26:52 BDT
Andrew says:
James Hilton

Lost Horizon
Random Harvest
Goodbye Mr Chips

John Buchan

The 39 Steps

Robert Tressel

The Ragged Trouser-ed Philanthropists (once banned in the USA!)

D H Lawrence

Women in Love
Aaron s Rod
Lady Chatterley's Lover
The Girl and the Gypsy
The Rainbow

Posted on 25 May 2012 10:30:48 BDT
Andrew says:
Ernst Juenger

On the Marble Cliffs
Storm of Steel
The Glass Bee's

MIklhail Sholokov

'And Quiet Flows the Don'
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  8
Total posts:  17
Initial post:  10 May 2012
Latest post:  25 May 2012

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