Thursday, July 14, 2011

Georgette Who? Meet the Author Who Outsells Rowling, Dickens & Patterson

From ABE Books:
The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer
The Unknown Ajax
Georgette Heyer

Unless you are a reader of historical romance, then there is a good chance that you will be unfamiliar with Georgette Heyer. Who is she? For a start, she’s one of AbeBooks’ top 10 bestselling authors during the 15-history of this company.

Last time we looked she was behind Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie and Stephen Kingbut ahead of J.K. Rowling, Charles Dickens and James Patterson.

We have sold a huge number of this English novelist’s books because 1) she is loved by people who love love stories, and 2) many of her books are out-of-print so used bookshops fulfill the demand from her legion of fans.

Heyer (1902-1974) also wrote detective fiction but her real legacy is historical romance and especially regency romance. The author conducted meticulous research to ensure accuracy of whatever period she was tackling. She had a substantial library of reference books to ensure her descriptions of clothing, customs and real-life events were correct. Even if do not know Heyer, you will have seen her covers – the handsome hero and beautiful heroine posed to embrace.

Heyer’s debut novel The Black Moth was published in 1921 when she was still a teenager. Her first commercial success was These Old Shades - released during Britain’s General Strike of 1926 - which received no adverts or promotion of any sort and yet still sold like hot cakes. The success of These Old Shades without any publicity convinced Heyer that she did not need to court reviewers or journalists in any way and she never did. Heyer’s first trip into the Regency period was Regency Buck in 1935. It’s easy to compare these novels, usually featuring wealthy upper class characters, to Jane Austen’s work.

The Conqueror, as in William, is one her best known pieces of historical fiction, which she published in 1931. A year later her first thriller, Footsteps in the Dark, was published. During the 1930s, she produced a thriller and a romance each year with the love stories paying her bills. Bear in mind, her mysteries were competing against the works of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.

Her romance sold well during the Great Depression and World War II when she offered escapism – dashing highwaymen, handsome dukes, beautiful maids etc - to millions of readers. Her later years were dominated by money and tax troubles. She switched publishers, sold the rights to some of her best books for a pittance, had to review books and sold her stories to magazines.

Perhaps her many imitators were the biggest indicator of her influence. These copycat writers were almost to be expected as Heyer launched the regency romance genre.

Asking prices for first editions of Heyer’s thrillers, which always had smaller print runs, can reach four figures. The most expensive Heyer book ever sold by AbeBooks was a first edition of Death in the Stocks for $2,400.

There are a several biographies about Heyer, including Georgette Heyer’s Regency England by Chris Teresa and The Private World of Georgette Heyer by Jane Aiken Hodge.

Here are the two Heyer novels we have listed online currently, and I am quite sure we could easily acquire others for any interested parties:

1 . Faro's Daughter; Georgette Heyer ARROW (RAND) 2004 0099465590 / 9780099465591 PAPERBACK

Very Good

0099465590 Very good. No dust jacket as issued. Clean text, tight binding, light wear to exterior. Support Pacific Northwest Independent Booksellers! 288 p.
Price: 11.35 USD

2 . The Foundling by Georgette Heyer; Georgette Heyer G.P. Putnam's Sons 1948 Hardcover


Good. No dust jacket. ~clean text, tight binding, light wear to exterior 380 p.
Price: 13.25 USD

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