Friday, November 8, 2019

Possibly Furrowed Middlebrow: the results

Well, this has taken far longer than it should have as it's been a busy couple of weeks since our return from vacation (among other things, a dying computer has many repercussions, not all of them expected, and adapting to a new one has a few as well). But at long last, here are the results of my first ever Possibly FM query. Thanks so much to those who replied for the lovely suggestions and a lot of food for thought. Obviously, we can't publish everything, even everything that I love and would like to publish, but it's helpful to know what you would like to see.

Here, in no particular order (except that authors suggested more than once are being mentioned first) are the compiled responses, with in most cases at least a brief comment.


There were several mentions of DES, but I have some good/bad news about this. The bad news side is that we were actually hoping to publish more of DES's work in addition to the three we're releasing in January, but unfortunately, between the release of our first set of DES titles early this year and our queries about doing more, the rights to all the remaining titles were apparently granted to Endeavour, who have released a number of her books already. I wish we had had a chance to make our case for doing some of the others—I did particularly have my eye on The English Air and a few other favorites—but alas these things happen. The good news, at least for readers of e-books, is that presumably most or all of DES's remaining titles will be coming along the pipeline before too long.


Several mentions here too, and very interesting to me because I've only ever read Greenery Street. It looks like Another Part of the Wood is already available in e-book in the UK, and a few of his earliest titles are public domain in the US and therefore available for free online, but there are a number of others that look intriguing. Recommendations of favorite titles would be welcome. I have some reading to do!


Love love love her, but many of her books are available electronically, and in the UK there's even a Delphi Classics edition of her more or less complete works, as well as Bloomsbury Reader editions of some of the most famous titles.


Several mentions of Young. Definitely under consideration…


I wrote about her other three "contemporary" novels here. I have a bit of a dilemma about the last, Fair Stood the Wind, because of one passage of disturbing racism (why, Carola, why?!), and it's a bit weaker overall than the other two anyway, but the others are certainly on the "possible" list.


Orange did write six novels in all, and we did only publish three of them. Which I would find completely maddening as a reader. But we chose those three because both I and the author's daughter, author Gillian Tindall, felt they were her best work. I'll have another look at the other three and see if my own feelings have changed at all.


A couple of suggestions for Adam, and she is certainly under consideration.

HELEN ASHTON (especially The Half-Crown House)

I'm not a huge Ashton fan, especially after reading Joanna at Littfold (see here), but I did quite like Half-Crown House


This from a commenter using the marvelous name "raddledoldtart". I confess I had never heard of Baxter, but she looks interesting, and there's a slightly harrowing bio of her here. Two of her memoirs have already been released in e-book (with extraordinarily inappropriate covers), but she appears to have written a few novels as well, so I'll have a look.

GRACE S. RICHMOND, Cherry Square

An American author, but the book's description and original cover are certainly enticing. Food for thought.

E. NESBIT – the other novels for adults

Since Nesbit is public domain in both the UK and US, e-book editions of these abound. That doesn't help those who don't read e-books, but alas it does mean it wouldn't be practical for us to do them.


Many of her novels are already available from Bloomsbury on both sides of the Atlantic. If there are any particular favorites of hers that aren't available, let me know and I'll check them out!

MAGDALEN KING-HALL (as Cleone Knox), Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion in the Year 1764-65

You know, this has been on my TBR for way too long. Time to rectify that.

RACHEL FERGUSON (especially A Child in the Theatre)

I'm embarrassed to say that my grand project of reading all of Ferguson fell apart a while back with only two novels left unread—her first, False Goddesses, and A Child in the Theatre. (I also have a review of Sea Front, her final novel, that deserves to finally be posted!) After an enthusiastic recommendation from a scholar writing her dissertation on Ferguson, however, this must be bumped up the TBR too.

MARGERY SHARP (especially Rhododendron Pie and Four Gardens)

I had removed Sharp from my list after Open Road released a bunch of her novels on e-book. The assumption being that surely they would do the rest down the road. But for whatever reason, they don't seem to have done so. Which makes me wonder…


Maybe I was just being a cranky old fart when I tried to read this, but it really didn't grab me. I know it has some firm advocates though, so I may have another look.

MARCH COST (especially The Bespoken Mile)

After a positive experience with The Hour Awaits, unearthed at a book sale, and a negative experience with its sequel, Invitation from Minerva, I seem to have sworn off March Cost. But I have to say, after looking back at the review of this title here, it does sound tempting.


Not sure. A number of her books were reprinted a few years ago by Macmillan, and although I quite liked Family Roundabout (available from Persephone) and Mattie and the Dearingroydes and Mrs Frensham Describes a Circle (both reprinted by Greyladies), I haven't been equally impressed with the Macmillan titles. So it would be the challenge of separating the wheat from the chaff of the out-of-print titles. Any suggestions?


Love her. Most of her books are readily available now as they are public domain, but it's true that a few later works are not. Of those, Expiation is now happily available from Persephone, and I read and enjoyed Mrs Skeffington ages ago. Perhaps I should take a look at the others.


Definitely planning to have a look at the two other Noble novels I am able to get hold of. Two others—The Wave Breaks (1932) and Down by the Salley Gardens (1935)—seem to be beyond my powers to track down, but if anyone has them and would consider sharing do let me know!

G. B. STERN, Ten Days of Christmas

At the moment, I can't seem to find who suggested this one, but good news for them, this is actually in print from Corazon Books in both the US and the UK, but I'm happy to have the suggestion anyway because it reminds me that a) the book belongs on my war list under postwar, and b) I really need to read it.

PAMELA FRANKAU, Clothes of a King's Son trilogy

Another to bump up my TBR list. I've been intrigued by it ever since Ali reviewed it, so it's time to pull the trigger.


Looks like great fun for the TBR list, but it's readily available in e-book already.

GRAEME & SARAH LORIMER, Men Are Like Street Cars

An American husband and wife writing team. The book sounds like fun and it's an irresistible title.

JANE SHAW, Highland Holiday

Happily, this one's coming soon from Girls Gone By, as are several more hard-to-find Shaws!

SHEILA STUART, Alison's Yacht Adventure

I haven't read any Sheila Stuart, but clearly I should.


Definitely on the consider list.


I read this one a while back, but have to admit I can barely recall it. Time for a review.

SHEILA PIM, the non-mysteries

Hmmmm, this suggestion is certainly calculated to intrigue me. In addition to her four mysteries, reprinted years ago by Rue Morgue, Pim wrote three non-mystery novels that are now vanishingly rare. I have one of them, which I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read. I wonder if I can get hold of the others?

DOROTHEA TOWNSHEND, A Lion, A Mouse and a Motor Car

Described as a "humorous romance/adventure novel" and with a title that manages to evoke both C. S. Lewis and Beverly Cleary, I am hooked. Sadly though, it will need to be added to the Hopeless Wish List as there seems to be no way to get hold of it.

And, last but certainly not least, there's the astonishing list from Grant, who has already given me access to so many wonderful titles from his vast collection. The titles below, from which I removed a few already mentioned above, are mostly deeply buried indeed, and (apart from Tea and Hot Bombs, which is certainly on our consider list if we do a batch of children's/young adult novels in the future) I don't know enough to comment on them, but I am certainly game to sample them.

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
1943 Birds on the wing by Dorothy Lambert
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
1931 Gin and bitters by Elinor Mordaunt
1945 Four steps upwards by Constance M Evans (Judy Ashbane redux)

(by male authors)
1940 These, our strangers by Adrian Alington
1943 The squad goes out by Robert Greenwood

If you have any other suggestions not listed here (or if I missed anything already suggested), do let me know. 

I have my reading cut out for me!


  1. Winter Quarters by Pamela Hansford Johnson (1944) is on my Amazon wish list - but I can't remember why it's there! Either on one of your lists or an idea from elsewhere.

    1. It could have come from my WWII list, Sue, but I'm ashamed to admit I still haven't read it either!

  2. HOW do you do this? WHEN do you find time to go to work, or sleep, or anything? AND - just scanning this list, HOW HOW HOW can you decide?
    MANY kudos to you, Scott! And I await the results.

  3. Hi Scott so many things to explore from these lists. As well as The Clothes of a King's son trilogy I suggested Ten days of Christmas by G B Sterne via a twitter discussion with Dean street press I think. Glad to hear it is in print I didn't know, I have an old hardback I picked up somewhere. Really recommend for reading over the festive season.

  4. I'd love to see Dodie Smith's It Ends with Revelations (1967) and The New Moon with the Old (1963) published by Furrowed Middlebrow, as well as the other titles by Rumer Godden and Margery Sharp that Open Road Media didn't reprint.

    Also, Elizabeth Goudge's Torminster Saga isn't available in ebook in America (as far as I am aware) and she has quite the following worldwide, I think she would be a popular choice.

    1. The Dodie Smith titles are actually in print, according to Amazon, and strangely it looks like the first volume of the Goudge trilogy is too? Very strange. I have been meaning to have a look at the less accessible Rumer Goddens too--weird that Candle for St Jude isn't released by Virago.

  5. Men are Like Streetcars - a series. I think there are 2 or 3 more. The original dust jackets are wonderful.

  6. I'm so sad to hear the rights for D. E. Stevenson's books were granted so that only ebooks (of other books) will be available. As a reader who does not read ebooks, I guess I'll have to resort to scouring for vintage editions.

    1. Yes it was disappointing Niki. I would also rather read physical books than e-books. On the other hand, I'd rather read e-books than not be able to read the books at all!

  7. I didn't like Jam Today either.

    London Pride by Bottome? And Jane Duncan - they were supposed to be reprinted but the sales didn't warrant continuing - would love to see all the Camerons series reprinted...with the illustrations

    1. It seemed like Jam Today should have been right up my alley, but somehow it didn't take. It does look like the Jane Duncans are still available from Macmillian, but London Pride could be a possibility. I have to refresh my memory as I read it ages and ages ago.

    2. The My Friends series is available in ebook format but has been abridged (without letting the buyer know!).

  8. I think she may be public domain now, and it looks like there are e-books available for most titles. On the brighter side, Greyladies have just announced they're doing The Wintry Years, her unfinished final novel, with additional, newly-discovered chapters!

  9. I need to stop coming to Furrowed Middlebrow because I always come away with a few new authors to add to my list - I am now on a quest to find 'Jam Today' by Oriel Malet!
    Regarding Richmal Crompton - I agree about sorting the wheat from the chaff; I wonder whether the quality of her work would have been more consistent if she had written fewer novels? In my opinion the best (and some of the mediocre) have already been reprinted by Bello/Macmillan. There are some early obscure titles (Jane McVeigh from Roehampton university has written on some of them) that could be interesting to look at such as Hidden Room (192?). My favourite Crompton titles are: Linden Rise, Frost at Morning, Narcissa and Leadon Hill. Thanks for mentioning Rachel Ferguson - I have recently acquired a first edition of False Goddesses in good condition; it's accomplished for a first novel but I'm not sure it warrants a reprint. Good luck with all the new and future FM titles - you and your blog are the reason for my current research so thank you. Gillian Ide

    1. Thanks, Gillian, that's very helpful re Crompton. And wow, how wonderful to have helped inspire your research--I'd love to read your dissertation when it's finished!

  10. Thanks Scott, great reading there and so pleased to hear Jane Shaw's Highland Holiday is finally going to be reprinted :) Another Scottish author absolutely worth reading is Mary E Edmonston , who wrote 3 books set on the Shetland Islands, mentioning the war as well, brilliant books ,

  11. Sorry, her name is Mary E Edmondston, ( forgot the D ) but worth looking into

  12. I've added Edmonston to my database--she'll be a new addition to my list as well--and added the first book to my TBR. Thanks for the recommendation!

  13. Oh I missed your shout-out for suggestions so I am a late-comer to the ball. I have a hugely guilty liking for Elizabeth Cadell, some of which are now being reissued as ebooks, not sure about paper versions. I would love to see some of the rarer titles easily available.

    I recently read my way through many of the Alison series by Sheila Stuart, which I still possess. Just having price checked the Yacht Adventure I think I had better go and check whether I own it! The Christmas Adventure too.

    Over the past two years we have been reading the entire Crompton Just William series to our centenarian neighbour as a bedtime story. Absolutely peerless to read out loud. Brilliant stuff and clearly not written for children at all....I wonder why anyone ever thought it was.

  14. I'm late here and it's no doubt hopeless but I'm an ebook-only reader now and I'm sad that Virago has stopped midway through Angela Thirkell.


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