Friday, October 11, 2019

Possibly Furrowed Middlebrow?

Two things to mention in brief.

We're in the final preparations for heading out on our holiday, and I am happy to report that, after having my nose to the grindstone for the past several weeks, I did FINALLY manage to finish a new update of my main list (see here). This was an enormous amount of work, going on over the past several months, with in one sense very little payoff, so I'm terribly relieved that it's done and I can head off on vacay without it looming over me! 

I was making dozens and dozens of corrections or revisions that had accumulated over the past couple of years (from friends or relatives of authors emailing to provide information, or kindly folks noticing errors, or simply things I realized needed revising or updating). I added links to reviews from the past couple of years, mentioned Furrowed Middlebrow reprints where applicable, and, very sadly, had to add death dates to a number of authors (including Jane Hervey, Emma Smith, Rosamunde Pilcher, and Gillian Freeman)always a melancholy moment. I also, after several months of searching Ancestry and, was able to make edits in hundreds of entries to add more detailed life and death dates, married names, etc. On a happy note, in the process I also was able, often in coordination with the incomparable John Herrington, to identify several previously unidentified authors.

The reason I said the payoff was in one sense rather small is that I realize that for most of you, details of life and death dates and marriages and such are not of riveting interest, so the bulk of the work involved in this update won't matter much to you. Still, as I started the list not particularly focusing on those details, and relying on sources that weren't always very accurate, I felt that a thorough revisiting of many of the authors was necessary, particularly since the list now includes the only significant online information about hundreds of lesser-known authors. It had better be correct then!

On the other hand, the new version of the list does include well over a hundred new authors, some of them quite intriguing. After our return from holiday, I'll be putting together some posts to highlight those authors, and indeed I will share my experiences in reading a number of them (the update has been in-process for quite a long time, so I have lots of reading to report on here somewhere along the line). 

And before moving on to the second thing, I have to say a thousand apologies to all the people who have emailed me or commented on the blog or reviewed new Furrowed Middlebrow titles and have received a deathly silence in return. My guilt about that is the only dark cloud still hanging over our vacation, and I am really sorry to have been so out of touch. Rest assured, however, that I have read your emails/comments and enjoyed them, and I'm grateful to all of you. Now that the update is finished, I hope to begin resurfacing from my more or less subterranean existence!

In fact, believe it or not, the second thing I want to mention is actually a request for readers to get in touch with me! (Please don't let my abysmal record as an email correspondent discourage you from doing so...) 

I've always been envious of the lucky readers who have been able to attend one of Persephone's lovely "Possibly Persephone" events, whereat folks can make a case for the books they think Persephone should reprint in the future. Being so green with envy, you would think the sluggish synapses in my brain would have led me to this before now, but suddenly the other day I thought, "Why can't I do something similar?" I mean, I can't very well host a gathering and serve tea and cakes, but I can at least use the forum of this blog to make an appeal to my brilliant, eclectic, well-read followers.

So here it is: What out of print book or books do you think we should consider reprinting as Furrowed Middlebrow titles?

Please do bear in mind the overarching focus of our imprint: 

  • primarily early to mid-20th century British women writers
  • generally novels, though exceptional memoirs certainly fit
  • often humorous in tone
  • often domestic in theme, focused on ordinary people and day-to-day life
  • strong characters and great storytelling
  • often featuring World War II home front settings
  • generally aimed at adult readers, though we have flirted with the idea of some very strong titles originally marketed for teens or young adults, if adult readers today are likely to enjoy them
  • out of print in any editions in both the U.K. and U.S.

Obviously, not all of these characteristics fit everything we've published (though the last is pretty much a must), but they can serve as general guidelines. And of course, if a book is exceptional enough and likely to be enjoyed by our readers, exceptions might be made (for example, if Persephone hadn't published R. C. Sherriff's The Fortnight in September, you can bet I'd have one male author on my list by now!). 

Please leave your suggestions in the comments below if you are able to do so, or if not feel free to email them to me (address at bottom of page) and I'll share them in the comments myself. And please feel free to share this post widely with friends, bloggers, and any other book-y types who may have interesting suggestions. (Note that since I'll be on holiday, I might be checking email only once or twice per day, and since I have to moderate comments or the blog would be deluged with spam, there could be a bit of a delay between you leaving your comment and it actually appearing online—don't let that discourage you!)

This post will have pride of place here until we return (at which time I'll be previewing the covers of January's new Furrowed Middlebrow titles...).

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!


  1. So glad to hear that you have been busy, I had been worried about your silence since the January New Furrowed Middlebrow post. I hope you have a great holiday and are going somewhere fun. I'll have to think about a book or two to propose for future Furrowed Middlebrow publications.


  2. You two guys have lots of fun, and - dare I even say it - try to relax and just enjoy!

  3. The English Air by D.E. Stevenson. Would love to have it on my Kindle and perhaps even an audio book!

  4. Hello, I'd like to see some of Denis MacKail's novels reprinted as I loved Greenery Street and his other novels are hard to find. I know you'd have to make an exception for a male author but hope you will consider him. Also, I'd like to see E M Delafield's less well known work published by Dean Street Press. Enjoy your vacation! Grier

  5. Have a lovely holiday, both of you! You didn't happen to mention where you are going - are we allowed to know?

  6. I heartily second Grier's request for more Dennis Mackail novels!

    I'd also love to see more D.E. Stevenson. I know a few other publishers have been reprinting her in recent years but there are a few gems that haven't been reissued yet:
    -Sarah Morris Remembers
    -Green Money
    -The Blue Sapphire
    -The House on the Cliff
    -Amberwell and it's sequel Summerhills

    Also, what about Helen Ashton's books? I'd love to be able to easily buy a copy of The Half-Crown House.

  7. Nominating Alida Baxter, I can see 2 of her books have kindle editions, but some of her other writing is genuinely better I think, I'm sure I remember one book called 'Life with Granma'...

  8. I'll get back to you on that, Scott.

    Meanwhile, I'll just mention Dean Street Press's new home page. I like it. More lively and informative. And a blog.

  9. I just want to thank you for all your valuable work in gathering all this information together. It is not nothing. It is not an insignificant task. It is a truly worthwhile gift to all of us. Thank you, Scott.

  10. Have you considered A Child in the Theatre by Rachel Ferguson? Def. out of print, first published 1932, features the first world war and has a feminist bent, but is also, true to Ferguson, humorous. I'm pretty sure you have read this Ferguson title; I think it is extremely good, but then I am biased.I think A Stroll Before Sunset and her final novel Seafront might also be possibles. Incidentally, RC Sheriff's book is about Bognor Regis - my home - and we have a Blue Plaque here for him here.

    1. This post is from Gillian Ide - I have also emailed you as unsure whether this post had been successful

  11. Hi, First I must say I love reading your posts, its just great, to see others who love old books specially older childrens books . I would love to see Highland Holiday by the wonderful Jane Shaw, reprinted or at least available at an affordable price . It was published in 1942 with references to the war and as far as I know was never republished . Also Sheila Stuarts Alison's Yacht Adventure another hard to find title, as you can see I love Scottish authors :)Tracey

  12. Hi Scott – here's a disorderly list it would be great to see back in print – a lot I learned about from your blog, tracked them down, read and enjoyed:

    1943 Ding dong dell by Joan Morgan
    1944 The seed was kind by Dorothy Macardle
    1940 The gentlewoman by Norah James
    1930 Jam today by Marjorie Firminger
    1931 Children, be happy! by Rosalind Wade
    1943 Long division by Hester Chapman
    1941 Blitz kids by Elinor Mordaunt
    1938 Half o'clock in Mayfair by Marie Troubetzkoy
    1944 Enter - a land girl by Constance M Evans
    1944 City without sentinel by Shirley Darbyshire
    1943 Home Fires Burning by Barbara Kaye
    1941 Spies at Candover by Norah Mylrea
    1943 Tea and hot bombs by Lorna Lewis
    1942 Have your cake by Ursula Orange
    1943 Birds on the wing by Dorothy Lambert
    1939 There needs no ghost by Ruth Adam
    1951 Death has ten thousand doors by Bridget Chetwynd
    1941 Jade earrings by Berta Ruck
    1944 Judy Ashbane, police decoy by Constance M Evans
    1944 Enduring adventure by Norah C James
    1952 Rubies, emeralds and diamonds by Bridget Chetwynd
    1942 Murder in the home guard by Ruth Adam
    1931 Gin and bitters by Elinor Mordaunt
    1945 Four steps upwards by Constance M Evans (Judy Ashbane redux)

    (3 by male authors)
    1940 These, our strangers by Adrian Alington
    1945 Huddleston house by Denis Mackail
    1943 The squad goes out by Robert Greenwood

    Grant Hurlock

  13. I would second Highland Holiday by Jane Shaw.


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