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Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain 1914–1950$
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Joseph McAleer

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203292

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203292.001.0001

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‘Take the Place of Valium’: Mills & Boon Ltd.

‘Take the Place of Valium’: Mills & Boon Ltd.

(p.100) 4 ‘Take the Place of Valium’: Mills & Boon Ltd.
Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain 1914–1950

Joseph McAleer

Oxford University Press

Mills & Boon exploited with great success the demand for light fiction, becoming one of the principal suppliers of the circulating libraries. However, the firm exemplifies the major structural changes in the publishing industry between the wars and in this respect is of great importance. First and foremost a commercial enterprise, Mills & Boon was the pioneer in the promotion of books as commodities and in the rationalisation of established publishers into ‘library houses’ in the 1930s. Mills & Boon followed the changing tastes of the readership closely, even as it tried to influence them. The result was a spectacular success, a soothing combination of realistic instruction and escapism. Mills & Boon was founded by Gerald Mills and Charles Boon. It was not founded as a romantic fiction publishing house, although its first book was, prophetically, a romance: Arrows from the Dark, by Sophie Cole.

Keywords:   Mills & Boon, light fiction, publishing industry, library houses, escapism, Gerald Mills, Charles Boon, romantic fiction, Arrows from the Dark, Sophie Cole

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