PAN Fans

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

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

PAN’s 70th Birthday Bash Part 1

Last Tuesday was a first for my wife and myself, mixing with the literati in London and having to put up with a constant stream of alcohol and sausages! It was really good to meet up with Gordian Young and his fiancée Chrissie after communicating by email for nearly 12 months. They were staying at the same hotel as us so we walked round to Foyles together and afterwards went back for a meal and a long chat.

Gordon said he blamed me for getting him into all of this but I know he was secretly very pleased to be there and to be able to tell his story. He emailed me later to say “I have been wandering around in a slight daze since getting home on Wednesday but am beginning to be my normal laid back self again. Despite my early misgivings and reluctance to come up to London, I am pleased that we made the effort”

Here is Gordon with PAN archivist Alysoun (right) and Harriet from the Collector’s Library. Gordon was looking very naval and wearing a vintage PAN tie.

Since then Alysoun Sanders has been down to the south coast to visit Gordon and has made recordings of him talking about his work back then which will go into the PAN archives along with the flag from the boat the ‘Laloun’ Alysoun has invited me along to the archives so I may get to see this flag.

I was going to write more but I have got four articles that appeared on line the next day so I’ve included them HERE. As the webpages were in danger of disappearing I made screen grabs which made largish files so hope they don’t take too long to load in. There were many more photos taken by a professional photographer on the evening and I know it sounds egotistical but I hope I’m in at least one of them to prove I was there! Just awaiting site logon details.

I’ll add more next week about the six Golden PAN’s awarded but in the meantime here is a photo of Julia Donaldson of ‘The Gruffalo’ fame who very kindly posed for me and of her own volition held up one of my cards (I know it’s upside down but I’m more than happy with what I got)

Gordon Young and 70 Years of PAN Books

As I’ve mentioned a few times lately PAN Books are celebrating their 70th Anniversary on the 5th September 2017. I’ve also been compiling the recollections of Gordon Young (picture left) who was First Mate on the ‘Laloun’ which in 1947 brought over the first titles published by PAN. This was because of paper shortages here in the UK but not so in France hence them being produced by Parisienne printers.

It was back in September that Gordon and I first made contact and I remember being really excited to get his email when we were staying in our camper on an apple farm near Cahir in Ireland. I wanted to email him straight back but I find I need to be cautious using my phone as the spell checker doesn’t always give me what I expect! When we did eventually communicate Gordon sent me several emails over the weeks, plus his own photos, telling the story of the ups and downs of transporting the books by sea. I’ve made a page which can be seen HERE (99.9% of the text is Gordon’s) I was really pleased to find that PAN has invited Gordon to their ‘birthday bash’ and that they are going to interview him for their aural archives.

Cheltenham, Horror and Updates

Down in Cheltenham last week for a few days to pop in to see Paul Davies who was holding an excellent exhibition of his current work as a cartoonist. Paul also drew twelve PAN covers for Leslie Thomas titles in 1982, he hated them! I took a few with me that Paul kindly signed on the back and they can be seen HERE along with Paul’s cartoon of the bookseller who once was an all too familiar character. We had a long and interesting chat about many things we have in common.

While in Cheltenham called in to four bookshops (there was another one but listed under ‘rare books’ so decided probably a bit too posh) with Moss Books certainly winning for quantity and floor stacks but unfortunately meant I couldn’t get to see a lot of what was double stacked on the shelves behind the precarious piles

Northing to do with books but called in to the local steam railway station and managed to get a visit on to the footplate, quite ‘chuffed’ as it was only me and the drivers kids that were allowed up! It was a very hot day made even hotter standing next to the open firebox.

One publication I’d missed was the paperback edition of “Back From The Dead” by Johnny Mains from 2016 in which I’d like to say my website and I both get a mention but as I’m too modest ……! It uses the Les Edwards artwork that was intended for the defunct “PAN Book of Horror Scrapbook”

Finally a couple of updates in that I’ve found the last Paddington title ‘Paddington Goes Shopping’ and Alan Cracknell has kindly sent me some printers proofs of his non PAN book covers plus something we’ve not had for a while, a new entry in the ‘As Seen of TV’ section.

Next week is very close to the 70th anniversary of PAN Books so I’m going to publish Gordon Young’s recollections of being First Mate on the ‘Laloun’ the boat that brought over the first titles from France where they were printed.

June Read on working at and leaving PAN Books + RIP Brian Aldiss

Just checking and it was two years ago last Wednesday that June added a comment to the blog. We made contact and she gave me the following information:

I joined Pan books around 1971 when the offices were on Tothill Street. I was hired as the secretary to Tony Bowen-Davis (art director) and when he left, then David Larkin.
Ralph had a series of secretaries ( he was a tough guy to please) so when he invited me to become his executive Secretary I was frank in telling him that I loved the company and if we did not get along, I asked him to promise me he would find me another opportunity in the company. I never went back to the art department. Ralph was one of the best, funniest, most irreverent people I ever worked with. A tough guy exterior but with marshmallow feelings.
When my husband and I moved back to Canada (3 years later) Ralph and the Pan crew held me a going away party and presented me with a jade ring, beautiful watch and an original caricature card (of Ralph) illustrated by one of the chaps in the art department.
The people at Pan were wonderful and the experience of working with Ralph still rates as fun and memorable.

We then lost contact as June went off travelling around the world so I was pleasantly surprised to hear from her again last month. She had returned and on sorting out found some great PAN related souvenirs of her leaving PAN which she is happy for me to share so click HERE to see them. June has also promised me some photos of the occasion which I hope to include in a later blog.

With the 70th Anniversary coming up I’ve found a page HERE showing all the 20 titles that will be available early in September. As part of further planned celebrations, Pan Macmillan is also re-introducing its Golden Pan statuette. On Tuesday 5th September at Foyles, it will be awarding five “Golden Pans” to authors on its list who have sold 1m copies over the lifetime of a book. It will also be celebrating its 70th anniversary with a party at Frankfurt.

STOP PRESS I’ve just heard that science fiction writer Brian Wilson Aldiss O.B.E died last Saturday (19th) the day after his 92nd birthday. PAN published several of his books and he jointly edited the 3 ‘Decade’ titles with Harry Harrison. Unfortunately all my books are currently packed away await moving but I’ll see if I can find any to scan and add to a later blog.

Alan Cracknell and Julek Heller

I was hoping to feature the alternative PAN logos June sent me but what with recovering from over indulging at my son’s wedding plus the arrival of the builders who are working in the pouring rain things have been a bit hectic time wise. The plus side is that the building work is all part of our grand plan which includes two conservatories, a proper roof and lantern windows on the garage, bi-fold doors on the end giving access from one of the conservatories which will then enable me to start work on my ‘man cave/library’ I want to order the 700 feet of bookshelves but my wife says not yet. Very frustrating!

I mentioned trying to contact Alan Cracknell but hadn’t had a reply. This is probably because I had the wrong Alan Cracknell so Alan in Brighton – sorry for probably confusing you. The real Alan lives near Winchester and I tracked him down as he made the local newspapers and the BBC News when he was indulging in his hobby of metal detecting and found a bronze ring.  Alan doesn’t use the internet, a wise choice, but replied to my letter with one of his own plus some cards showing examples of his work which I’ve added to his page HERE. He invited me to ring him which I did and we had a long conversation culminating in him promising to send me more details of his career. Unfortunately Alan has Parkinson’s so finds it harder to paint now but thankfully he still does.

I’ve also added a few more scans to Julek Heller’s page HERE including some of the later covers from the PAN imprint TOR plus an Arrow cover as I like it. Still no reply to my messages to him via his website but I don’t give up that easily.

Julek Heller and Ralph Vernon-Hunt plus Wedding

Julek Heller was born in 1944 in Jerusalem of Polish parents, who came to England as refugees in 1947. Now living in London, Heller has been working on non-commissioned fantasy illustrations since 2000. I have tried to contact him via his website but no response so far.His first covers for PAN/Piccolo, are far as I can find, were ‘The Songs of Summer’ by Robert Silverberg and ‘More Irish Fairy Tales’ by Sineadde de Valera from 1979. He went on to paint several more covers for both imprints plus later ones under the TOR imprint. Some examples can be found HERE with more to be added soon.

I’ve been communicating with June Read in Canada this last week. She contacted me a while ago, then went off travelling but has now returned and is sorting out bits and pieces from when she retired from being Ralph Vernon-Hunts secretary in the 1970’s. Here is a taster with more to come next week. I’ve added the bit from the book cover as a reminder.
My son’s wedding in Kent went off really well last Saturday and although we did get the downpour at 2:30, just as we came out of the church (which had unfortunately been forecast all the proceeding  week) the sun shone after this. I was very proud of my wife with her reading from Shakespeare. Even the vicar said he didn’t want to sound patronising but it was one of the best readings he had heard. We hope Thomas and Catherine have a very long and happy marriage. On the minus side I’ve missed two of my favourite ‘must visit’ annual book fairs, the Methodist church in Lichfield and the Baddesley Clinton NT fair near Warwick both starting on the 5th.

A mention of Julek Heller and SF cover.

With my son’s wedding this coming weekend and having just survived a weekend of go-karting, an assault course in the trees and 10 pin bowling I should feel flattered that my son invited me along on his stag weekend.

While all this is going on and with holidays coming up plus our ‘Back The Track’ campaign the blogs may be a little thin (no change there I hear you say)

I have been offered some PAN artwork which may or may not be by Julek Heller but we can’t discover if it was ever used. Does anyone recognise the unicorn below? We’ve had it out of the frame hoping for clues but all there is written on it is the size.

Heller did several covers for PAN and I’ll show a selection of these next week but he also lists several PAN titles on his website which I cannot track down including the ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy. I’ve sent him an email but not reply as yet. As a taster here is one he did for Piccolo.

I’ve also been sorting out my SF titles and looking at cover artists. The one below is the first that I have found that uses this media.It says the cover is ‘Electrophotography by Laurie-Rae Chamberlain on the Cannon NP Color Copier’When I saw this I thought Cannon with two double ‘n’ but that’s what it says on the back of the book.

PAN/Pavanne, a bit of a mystery and a H&S nightmare!

Last week I mentioned Pan Fan Stuart down under in Melbourne had found another title with the PAN/Pavanne dual logo for me and then I found a couple more. They’ve all arrived and can be seen HERE. When I was looking for a copy of ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ only one in Italy popped up so how come there’s suddenly several on eBay? Mind you I did only pay 5 euros including postage so a bit cheaper than this although this one does have free postage.I’ve also included another Wendorf title as I couldn’t find an image but as one of her titles was PAN/Pavanne I though the other might be. As usual I assumed wrong BUT I do like the stamp inside from a seller in Thailand.

I also bought a wallet off eBay because it had the magic words ‘PAN Books’ written in it albeit in biro.It has silver mounts hallmarked for 1907, made by Edward Langridge & Co. in Birmingham and is stamped J.B. – you don’t think it might have belonged to ……. !Inside it says D.Frankham with an address in Dummer near Basingstoke (where PAN’s headquarters are located) I contacted Alysoun, the archivist at PAN, on the off chance she might know this person. She didn’t but had bought her house off another Frankham as apparently it’s a common name round there. I’ll keep digging on this one.

Bit of a short one this week as tied up with my other current interest (Yes I know it’s hard to believe there is more to life than PAN’s) namely opening up a disused railway track for walking/cycling. We need to clean up under a bridge where the ground is covered in rubbish and about an inch of mud. We have been pottering around down there for a while but when we got a contractor in to give us a quote it became a ‘health and safety’ nightmare. We’re told we can’t do it because of Japanese Knotweed, sharps and other drug bits and pieces and if in the mud we must be tied to a line held by someone on the dry bank. We wish we hadn’t asked. Here is a 1937 photo of the track when the enterprising owner of it used it to lay a water pipeline alongside, from Lichfield to Walsall over Highbridge Bridge. What’s that about health and safety?

Venturer Twelve, Nicholas Monsarrat and a few other bits and pieces.

While sorting I realised that I had four books in the ‘Venturer Twelve’ series by Dan Morgan and John Kippax. I’d missed number four as it is a solo effort by John Kippax. Just wondering who did the covers and why they didn’t do the last one in the same style but that could just be me. To see them click HERE

I recently spotted a listing on eBay which I had to buy to see if it made sense. It was a hardback copy of ‘Think Of Tomorrow’ by Nicholas Monsarrat published by Hurst and Blackett around 1930.What caught my eye was that it included a compliments slip from PAN as below. No, still doesn’t make sense.It also has a Triolet by Monsarrat on the first page signed ‘Nick’ and dated 16/10/1934
I’m still trying to find a page I had of all the PAN logos from around 1990 when they added an image to go with the genre. I’ve already mention Sci-Fi and Fantasy, here is a badge with the one for horror.….and talking of logos following on from me mentioning books with the PAN and Pavanne logos on the covers I was contacted by Stuart from down under who found another and kindly let me know. Since then I have found two more and I ordered copies of all three, two from the UK and one from the only place I could find it, namely Italy. Guess which of the three has arrived so far! I’ll put them all up hopefully next week.

Sad news, Sumner Locke Elliott and a useful buy of eBay

I was sorry to get a letter from fellow PAN Fan Jeremy Birch to let me know that unfortunately his wife had died suddenly in Italy. I never met Sharon but felt I knew her as Jem always sent me real letters but I replied to him via Sharon’s email address as he didn’t have one. A sad start but as Jem is a true PAN Fan, the latter part was of several PAN related questions I could answer.

I don’t know if it’s me but I can’t say I’d really heard much about Australian author Sumner Lock Elliot (1917-1991) apart from the one title ‘Careful, He Might Hear You’ I had in PAN. I noticed a later title ‘Waiting For Childhood’ by him which was printed in Australia. On looking at other titles I found three of which were printed in Australia. You can see the covers HERE and the Australia printings have a red asterisk next to them.

I was puzzled when trying to find a copy of ‘About Tilly Beamis’ as I have just got a copy of PAN’s stock list for May/June 1986 off eBay (very useful) and it listed this title as a PAN imprint but it was also listed by sellers as a PAVANNE imprint. I found an image which seemed to show the PAN logo but when the PAVANNE copy arrived it was the same cover. It was only on closer inspection I found it actually used the PAN logo but with the PAVANNE one underneath. Never come across this before, are there any more out there?