Friday, July 24, 2009

Forthcoming titles, and an old book gets a makeover

I've finished compiling an update to the forthcoming books list on the Historical Novel Society website. It's only July, but a few publishers have their Winter 2010 catalogs out already. The main page lists titles through December, while those for January and forward appear on a separate page. Info on titles from US publishers was provided by me; Sarah Cuthbertson compiles the UK listings.

One of the new books on Sarah C's list, Mary Jane Staples's The Summer's Day is Done, caught my attention because the title seemed so familiar. A little googling revealed it was a reissue of a novel from 1976, one that I happen to own. The new and the old:

Mary Jane Staples and Robert Tyler Stevens were both pseudonyms used by Reginald Thomas Staples. He's best known for the Adams Family series of cockney wartime sagas written as Mary Jane Staples. Although he died in 2005, some of his older, non-series books are being reissued under the more familiar Mary Jane Staples name, which has been confusing some readers.

The novel's about a secret (fictional) love affair between Grand Duchess Olga and British agent John Kirby, who meets her at the Tsar's ball in 1911. The original edition was also published in the US, in paperback. Has anyone read it? Kind of a similar plotline to Catherine Gavin's The Snow Mountain, which a while back I mentioned as a favorite of mine.


  1. Reginald Thomas Staples is the name I'm familiar with, although James Sinclair is the pseudonym I came to know him by. I really enjoyed Warrior Queen, especially since he gave such vigour and care to a tale history nearly forgot. I haven't read a lot of his books, but he was a great talent, in my opinion, and it's strange to me that his books haven't received as much attention as they deserve. Nowadays there are so many novelists, it is sometimes forgotten how difficult it is to write an enthralling book. This author is truly great, and I would like to know more about him. The internet doesn't provide that much information, besides revealing that he wrote a great deal of books at a tremendous pace. Any thoughts on his interesting view on the tragic tale of Boudicca, or his life? Maybe he was a colorful character? There must be a story behind the name, if his wonderful books are anything to go by ...

    1. How interesting - I see on the Amazon forum that James Sinclair is listed as an other pseudonym, but I hadn't associated it with the novel Warrior Queen... which I've had a copy of for many years but haven't read yet. I'll have to find it and read it.

      There's a little about him in Twentieth Century Romance and Historical Writers (3rd ed) as follows: He was British and served in the British Army, 1940-46, and was the managing director of a number of printing companies from the 1950s-60s, then a chairman of a sports company in Merstham. Curiously, there's a note that his manuscript collection is at the Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University.