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..."popular modern novels" according to Arnold Bennett

Posted: January 20th, 2019, 6:25 pm
by ColleenMc
Just got started PL-ing an Arnold Bennett novel, Riceyman Steps. This sentence at the beginning of chapter two caught my ear:

"The King's Cross Road window held only cheap editions, in their paper jackets, of popular modern novels, such as those of Ethel M. Dell, Charles Garvice, Zane Grey, Florence Barclay, Nat Gould, and Gene Stratton Porter."

So of course my mind wandered off to wonder how many books by these authors are awaiting the attentions of Librivoxers, and, because I'm procrastinating on the stuff I really should be doing, I decided to find out! (I only checked Gutenberg, I'm sure there are lots more books by the authors on Internet Archive, Hathi and other sites)

Ethel M. Dell (1881-1939)
Wikipedia entry:

It appears that Ethel Dell was very popular in the 1910s through 1930s with a string of best-sellers, but the sort of writer that serious authors turned up their noses at and from the Wikipedia entry, seemed to work as a shorthand reference to indicate that someone who liked to read Dell had lowbrow tastes, kind of like someone saying nowadays that a person likes to read Danielle Steel or Debbie Macomber.

There are 16 books by Ethel M. Dell at Project Gutenberg, including 3 short story collections, and a very surprising Ethel M. Dell-shaped hole in the Librivox catalog, as we have recorded exactly none of her works yet!

Charles Garvice (1850-1920)
Wikipedia entry:

Another writer of romance novels (also used the pseudonym Caroline Hart) who was an enormous bestseller at the time, very prolific, and is now almost completely forgotten. There is only one work by him in the Librivox catalog so far, a short story.

He wrote well over 100 novels, but only 10 novels by Garvice currently on PG, including his big breakthrough novel, Just a Girl:

Zane Grey (1872-1939)
Wikipedia entry:

Zane Grey was insanely popular AND insanely prolific -- he had so many manuscripts stockpiled at his death in 1939 that he continued to have a new book come out every year until 1963! He was President Dwight D. Eisenhower's favorite author, which led to another resurgence in his popularity in the 1950s, and there are countless movies, radio dramas, and tv episodes based on his books and stories. He is best remembered as a writer of westerns, but he wrote numerous other books as well, including kids books and books about baseball, hunting, and fishing.

Unlike Dell and Garvice, Zane Grey is well-represented in the Librivox catalog already, but it looks like there are some books of his on Gutenberg that haven't yet made it to Librivox, including:

Betty Zane

The Day of the Beast

Desert Gold

The Desert of Wheat

Ken Ward in the Jungle

The Light of the Western Stars

The Man of the Forest

The Redheaded Outfield, and Other Baseball Stories

Tales of Fishes

The Young Forester

The Young Pitcher

Florence Barclay (1862-1921)
Wikipedia entry:

Barclay wrote 11 books in all, and two have been recorded for Librivox, including her runaway bestseller, The Rosary (top selling book for the year in 1910). But here are several that have not:

The Following of the Star

Through the Postern Gate

The Mistress of Shenstone

The White Ladies of Worcestor

Nat Gould (1857-1919)
Wikipedia entry:

A lot of his books seem to involve horses and horse-racing, if that's something that floats your boat!
There's one book by Gould on Librivox (called Who Did It?) but there are 6 others on PG that have not been recorded:

Fast as the Wind

The Rider in Khaki

The Second String

The Runaways

The Sweep Winner

Settling Day

Gene Stratton Porter (1863-1924)
Wikipedia entry:

Besides Zane Grey, Porter is probably the best-known author on the list. Not surprisingly, most of her books available on PG have already been recorded here. But there are two still waiting:

The Fire Bird

Her Father's Daughter

Maybe Arnold Bennett's momentary spotlight will help these authors find some new fans, a century on...


Re: ..."popular modern novels" according to Arnold Bennett

Posted: January 22nd, 2019, 10:34 am
by Leni
That is very cool, Colleen. I am always very ineterested in these popular-but-forgotten, "ex-classics" and the like. It is a conversation I've had with students more than once. Enter a bookstore now, look at the best-sellers shelves and guess which ones will be around in 100 years... probably none, tbh. :hmm: