A New ‘Forgotten Author’

Books

Here it comes, on October 3rd – the snappy paperback version of ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’. But the stories of 99 missing authors are now the stories of 100. I’ve revised the hardback, updating it with any publication changes that have happened in the one-year interim between the editions, and decided to add a new section.

One thing that concerned Rich, the editor, and myself was the question of BAME authors. Where had they been? The mid-lists and paperback sellers were pretty much white-only. Even the Buddhist author T Lobsang Rampa turned out to be a white plumber from Devon.

The answer to this question is that although a few books broke through, only a small handful achieved widespread popularity, and virtually none became successful paperbacks. If African or Caribbean writers made it to the UK it was to attend university and go on to various degrees, so when they emerged as published authors they tended to concentrate on serious literature. I could find no instance of a black male pulp writer popular in the UK (although I’m sure there must have been one or two). The chances of finding a black female author were just as slender.

That was when we discovered William Kelley. Quite how this extraordinary writer slipped through the cracks is a mystery, like many of our other authors. My publisher, Quercus, liked his work so much that they’re republishing him, bringing his books back onto shelves to coincide with our paperback launch, so although we didn’t manage to get Polly Hope back in print (my personal favourite missing author, partly because I got to know her so well) we now have the riveting Mr Kelly and his strange fable, ‘A Different Drummer’.

It will be interesting to see how ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ does over Christmas, because its success will determine whether there’s to be a second volume, and I have a great many more hidden delights for you to explore!

4 comments on “A New ‘Forgotten Author’”

  1. John Griffin says:

    This will be the third version I’ve acquired, and I can’t wait for Volume 2. I’ve read several of the authors’ oeuvre where available, and some real gems there are. Congrats, Sir.

  2. Denise Treadwell says:

    Will it be available in the U.S.?

  3. Roger says:

    You could produce an annual edition with minor variations.
    It works very profitably for Wisden.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    I was going to make a sarcastic comment about minor changes justifying a new edition and therefor repurchases but no, it’s Thanksgiving here and I’ll let it lie.

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