Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A history of romance

I was involved in a really interesting conversation recently. We were talking about the changes in the romance genre since we've been reading, and someone mentioned Betty Neels. You could have knocked me over with a feather when another writer about the same age as me asked "Betty Who?" Betty was one of Mills and Boon's most prolific authors with a career spanning over thirty years and hundreds of novels. Betty's nursing heroines and doctor heros probably steered my career choice towards working in hospitals, and her chaste heroines were perfect for my early teen years.

It got me to thinking - my romance reading habit now spans three decades. I always thought I had no real brain for history, but looking back I've stored away a lot of romance history. Who was writing what, and when? Amazing, when you consider how many romances I've read over the years.

My all time favourite Mills and Boon author was Brisbane author Lynsey Stevens, Carol Mortimer came in a close second during the eighties and I couldn't go past Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss for historicals in the nineties. I spent a couple of hours on the internet after that conversation and saw plenty of original covers I remembered, complete with the latest fashion and hair.

So thinking back to your early reading days, which authors were on your must buy list?


Anita Joy said...

Fi, I never really bought my own - just used to read Mum's as she bought heaps (saved my pennies for the fantasy books 'cause she never read them).

But Iris Johanson was probably the one I read most of (and still read her books today - and still borrow from Mum ).

Danielle Ferries said...

I remember Betty Neels. My friend's mum used to pass on to my mum and I all of her romance novels after she'd finished with them. After I grew out of Enid Blyton (I desperately wanted to be one of the Famous Five), CS Lewis and Lemony Snicket, I devoured anything with a dark mystery, mostly Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark and then I discovered Stephen King.

Fiona G said...

Anita, a friend's mother put me onto Kathleen Woodiwiss - it was 1981 and I still have the copy of "The Wolf and the Dove" she gave me (The oldest book on my keeper shelf). Alas my mother didn't read, so no hand me downs.

Danielle, my first competition submission was an ABC competition to write a Famous Five story (1980). Unfortunately I didn't win. But I did love those kids. And Trixie Belden. Obviously, I love mystery being solved by teenagers. And Agatha Cristie is one of my favourites. Somewhere is my list of her titles - I started a challenge to read every single one of her books. I'm about a third of the way through and I still can't figure out who did it. Ever.

Danielle Ferries said...

I used to read Trixie Belden as well, and Nancy Drew. My mum is a huge reader - she used to read The Bobbsey Twins when she was younger and was most disppointed when I wasn't overly keen on them.

Fiona G said...

I've never read a Bobbsey Twins book. I'll have to go hunting. I bought a Nancy Drew book (updated to include mobile phones and tweeting) for my niece last Christmas. She didn't read it but her mum really enjoyed it.

Eleni Konstantine said...

I have to admit I have never read a Betty Neels book though I do know who she is.

I loved Judy Blume. Then like Danielle I read Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, and Stephen King (our high school library was cool). At the same time I read the Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High. I collected those I must admit, with my mum also feeding the addiction. :)

Oh memories ;D

Fiona G said...


Sweet Valley High - oh the memories. Recently I stumbled on a website dedicated to Sweet Valley High, and they dissected one I remembered reading. In my memory it was a fictional masterpiece. Reading the review, I remembered all the bits they discussed - I just remembered them as a 17 year old reader, not as an adult writer. Obviously. Oh, and I also used to copy the cover art to improve my drawing. So Sweet Valley High has a special place in my heart.


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