PAN Fans

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

PAN Fans - Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

Signed Copies

While sorting through a pile of ‘special’ duplicates (ones that are not good enough for the shelf but have something to make me keep them) I’d forgotten the 3
Charles Chilton signed titles I’d bought on eBay last year. They came with a photo of Charles Chilton holding ‘The World In Peril’ when he was interviewed by the BBC for a programme of which I can find no record – does it ring a bell with anyone?



Eric Malpass, who died 18 years ago last week, had three of his books published by PAN ‘Morning’s At Seven’, ‘At The Height Of The Moon’ and Fortinbras Has Escaped The first two titles were very popular in Germany where they were both made into films with music by James Last.


One book that has been on my shelf for quite a while is ‘I Owe Russia $1200′ which cost me 50p and is a bargain as it has been signed by Bob Hope (!) I could believe that a charity shop would not think it genuine (if they actually spotted it) but having looked at other samples of his signature I’m not ruling it out as apparently he was a prolific signer.

Tenuous PAN Links in Croatia

Just returned from a couple of weeks in Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia and Montenegro and while I was there I was looking for PAN connections and offer these three very tenuous ones on this page. The first is just because of the name while the other two have character links. I shall be sampling the beer very soon in my PAN glass given to me by the café owner in Lovran.
Croatia and especially Dubrovnik are really fantastic places to visit. We had an interesting day in Dubrovnik as they were filming “Game of Thrones” series 5. Everyone was trying to get a good look and being shouted at by security guards saying ‘No photos, no photos’  (Apparently we didn’t see the best bit as it was the day before when they filmed Cersei Lannister made to walked naked through the streets – ooops sorry – plot spoiler) The following day we went to Montenegro and so missed the four huge cruise ships disgorging their 10, 000 or so passengers for a couple of hours in the medieval streets of the walled old town!

……. and finally I couldn’t leave the Novetel Brussels without letting them enjoy  ‘probably the best PAN paperbacks website in the world!”




Updates Today

Having been away in Croatian for the last two weeks I’m glad to see the schedules I set up to publish the blogs each Monday while away seems to have worked.

There are five pages which have been updated this morning from books that came during that time;

1) I have scanned another couple of Carbara Cartland covers which currently stands at 42 out of 125 and I will add more as I come across them.

2) I have managed to find a PAN copy of the Frank Yerby title “The Treasure of Pleasant Valley” and have added that to the page of other Yerby covers.

3) Back in 2102 I visited the building that was once used as a despatch centre by PAN. David the owner said they were going to have it clad in aluminium so I’m grateful to my agent Martin in West Molesey for taking a photo that I’ve now added to the page. Improvement?

4) While looking for information of Val Biro I came across this in ‘The Telegraph’: “There was great rejoicing some months ago when it emerged that House of Stratus was to republish the complete set of Anthony Buckeridge’s Jennings novels. The first batch of three, though, hasn’t met with the author’s complete approval. Specifically, he hates the covers. “Jennings looks fat and shapeless, like a little gargoyle,” he says. “They completely missed the essence of what 11-year-old boys are like.” Buckeridge would have preferred to see the new books illustrated by Val Biro, the Hungarian-born illustrator who worked on the original books. “It came down to money,” he says, “and Stratus ended up using an in-house illustrator.” Even though it’s not PAN I’ve added an example of a Val Biro Jennings cover to his page

5) Not PAN but Panther. I spotted a scrawl on the bottom of a Panther title on eBay which I thought look like the top of the name Derek A Stowe. I then found another copy on an Australian booksellers site (which would have cost me 12 times what I paid with the postage they were asking) with a photo which confirmed it was a Stowe. This just shows how carefully you have to look at covers to find signatures as they were often removed in the trimming process.

“Bamboo, Rice and Seaweed” Panther 778 1958

‘Gently With The Ladies’ Proof Copy

I recently bought this proof copy of ‘Gently With The Ladies’ from 1967 and was amused to see the last page just says ‘Five Pages Adverts Required’ These instructions were followed as there are five pages for titles by James Leasor and John Creasey etc. in the published edition.

I have several proof copies of titles with my favourite being ‘The PAN Book of Charm’ by Barbara Cartland which she proof read herself and signed on the cover to approve it (I acquired this from a shop in Hungary) Somehow she got her mothers DOB wrong so she has had to changed her mother’s age several times. I have quite a few other proof copies but the most interesting one I think  is not from PAN but Heinemann. It is for the 1961 title ‘Mrs Gallop’s Mistake’ by Josephine Blumenfeld. The PAN connection is that she was PAN’s founder Alan Bott’s wife. The reason I find this interesting is that as far as I can tell it was never published although the title was used for one of her collection of short stories published as ‘Birds In The Roof” by Heinemann in 1960. I have yet to track down a photo of her so if any one can help please get in touch.JB

Ted Willis 13/01/1914 – 22/12/1992

Something most unexpected has happened. A ‘new’ second-hand bookshop, Southcart Books, has opened in our local town! I paid a visit and was really pleased to find four Ted Willis titles (the ones with the yellow name flash) in the ‘free to a good home’ box. I have found a few more PAN covers and put them on this page. There was an excellent selection of paperbacks but mostly a little newer than my date range but it won’t stop me visiting.

Ted Willis was a prolific writer not only of books but film and TV scripts and is probably most well know for his character ‘Dixon of Dock Green’Dixon

Frank Yerby 05/09/16 – 29/11/91

Frank YerbyI intended to put this up on Frank Garvin Yerby’s birthday but I have only just managed to track down a couple of the covers I was missing. He was born in Augusta, Georgia and died in Madrid and was know as an African/American author who had 15(?) of his 33 titles published by PAN in the 70’s

I have put scans of most of these covers on this page in the order they were originally written. I have not been able to attribute any of the covers to specific artists although one or two I might hazard a guess but I won’t in case I pique ones who I have met. Artists are a sensitive lot and some even deny it’s their work when it has their signature on it!

There is still one PAN edition I’ve failed to track down, namely 0330 247743 “The Treasure of Pleasant Valley” from 1976. I found a couple of sellers claiming to have it but showing the Dell copy. When I asked them to check they both said they had too many titles to do it and then finished by saying “If  we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us” Now that’s what I call great customer service! I used World Cat and actually found our local library had a copy in their reserved stock. I requested it only to be told “it has gone missing”

I’ve heard from Nay in New Zealand who has a copy of the PAN paper sculpture book “The Railway Children with model and instruction sheet plus it is signed by Lionel Jeffries who directed the 1970 film. Shee is looking for around £45 to £50 with postage at about £8. If anyone is interested here email address is

Ralph Holmes Vernon-Hunt 2

HuntRalph Holmes Vernon-Hunt was the nephew of Alan Bott, founder of PAN Books. Born on the 23rd May 1923 he was educated at Malvern College and later served in the RAF where he was awarded a DFC. As mentioned in the last blog he worked at Hudson’s bookshop in Birmingham immediately after the war where he learnt all about the book trade (Coincidently I’ll be passing where it was this morning returning hire suits – see tailpiece!) On the 27th April 1946 Vernon-Hunt married Elizabeth Mary Harris at Northwich.

It was in 1947 that he became Sales Director at PAN where he remained until 1962. Whilst at PAN he was responsible for bestsellers like ‘The Dambusters’, ‘Enemy Coast Ahead’ and ‘Peyton Place’ The most successful titles were Fleming’s James Bond novels. In ‘The Times’ obituary it states;

“Vernon-Hunt himself (at his own instigation, it is believed) was the first visual interpretation of Mr Bond, when his face appeared on the front cover of the first of the Fleming yarns”

This is patently wrong as the ‘Casino Royale’ JB from 1955 was supposed to be based on Richard Conte, ditto Dick Orme from 1959 and Sam Peffer modelled Bond on himself for the 1957 ‘Live And Let Die’ so Vernon-Hunt was certainly not the first.

In 1962 he left PAN to join the newly established publisher Paul Hamlyn as Sales Director but returned to PAN in 1969 as Managing Director. In 1980 he became Deputy Chairman of PAN but retired two years later due to ill health. He died on 10th November 1987 and was survived by his wife and two children.

“He was a charming man with a driving personality which together with a charismatic and buccaneering style of salesmanship made the name of Pan books famous all over the world”

To see a copy of Ralph Venn-Hunt’s will click HERE

The film ‘Goldfinger’ premiered in London 50 years ago on September 17th 1964 so I’m using that as an excuse to include the cover featuring Vernon-Hunt as JB. Coincidently Vernon-Hunt’s uncle, Alan Bott, founder of PAN Books died suddenly on the 17th September 1952 aged 58.GoldfingerNot PAN but can’t pass without saying congratulations to our daughter Katherine and partner Stuart. It was a really lovely wedding last Saturday. All the best for a very long and happy future together.

Alun Hood?

Having just picked up a copy of the 1978 title ‘Nature On Your Side’ describing how to use natural remedies to get rid of pests I looked on the back and saw the cover was by Alun Hood. The name was vaguely familiar and I have tracked down another two covers he did for PAN. He also did numerous covers for other publishers in the 70’s and 80’s

The one thing I can’t find is any information about him. Can anyone help?

I recently had a comment posted by Gareth Powell regarding Ralph Vernon-Hunt who I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog. Gareth knew Ralph and wrote “Ah yes, I remember him well. I first met him in 1956 when I was working with Smith Trade News. He was a total charmer. He introduced me to Paul Hamlyn and treated me as if we were equals. We were nothing of the sort. I was then a trade journalist but it mattered not. I have always had a soft spot for Ralph Vernon Hunt and remember meeting him for the last time in, of all places Mumbai which was Bombay then” I have since tracked down his obituary  and will have more on him next week but as a taster I was interested to see he worked in Hudson’s Bookshop in Birmingham. This was a proper bookshop and when I was aspiring to be a teacher(!) it was the place you went to for all your text books.Hudsons

George Sharp 2

Name1Still visiting hospital taking mother-in-law but things not quite as an ‘emergency’ as they were, now downgraded to ‘urgent’ which means I’ve been able to add a few more bits and pieces to George’s page. This is a representative selection of work he did not only for PAN but other publishers. I was really pleased to be able to meet up with him at his flat in London and I was even more pleased when he generously gave me the three pieces of original artwork shown on the page. I am having them framed at the moment and they will take pride of place on my wall along with ‘The Chequer Board’ I already had. They were not originally signed but they are now. If I was to pick a favourite it would be ‘On The Beach’ but surprisingly, and George agreed, it is better as book cover size with the colours being more vibrant and intense, probably a quirk of the printing process.On The Beach C

I contacted George regarding the credit anomoly on the Herriot covers and he replied “Rob McCaig assisted me on the project. It is his work only in part for we both worked on each of 11 paintings completed over a period of little more than a week in order to re-jacket  the entire backlist in order to coincide with the publishing of James Herriott’s final hardback. Somebody at Pan removed my credit”


Val Biro 1921 to 2014

VBBooksI have only just learnt that the prolific artist Val Biro passed away on the 4th July this year. It was a pleasure to meet up with him a couple of years ago at his studio in Bosham, West Sussex. Balint Stephen Biro was born on the 6th October 1921 in Budapest and studied at the Jaschnick School of Art before coming to the UK as war loomed. He continued to study at the  Central School of Art in London from where he went on to painting numerous covers for PAN in the 1950’s