PAN Fans

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

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

“The Dam Busters” Update plus bits and pieces.

Having hunted through all the copies of  “The Dam Busters” I can find that have not been stored away awaiting the completion of my ‘Library’ I make it a total of 13 different covers albeit some fairly subtle shown HERE I now need to track down more of the artists. I’m surprised at how many different ISBN’s this title has had and I also need to confirm a couple of dates from the latter editions. If anyone out there has any other variations or artist information I’d love it if you could let me know by just leaving a comment.

The builders working on our alterations are following their own schedule which unfortunately is not as fast as I would like but my wife actually let me order one section of the type of bookcase I want to use. These are fully adjustable in many different sizes but not that cheap so I need to get it right. The one I have gives me 16 feet if I double stack, only another 684 feet (approx.) to go! The garage roof has been coated in fibreglass, the three lanterns are in place, a small part of the foundations have been laid. They are supposedly coming to remove the old conservatory today and put up a new one on the old and new foundations. All the end wall of the garage will come out and bi-fold doors put in and that’s where my library will be – eventually!

This week not only have I had to try and keep the builders happy with a constant stream of tea and coffee (and talking of streams where do they go to relieve themselves I wonder as they not asked to use our toilet? Maybe I don’t want to know!) but we’ve also been given £2,000 towards our ‘Back The Track’ campaign, well that’s the Public Liability Insurance sorted so we have the skip, we have the medical help, now we just need the volunteers to clear the swamp of rubbish and do some pruning under the ‘Miner Island’ in Brownhills so walkers can get through.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to upload the blog this week as my internet company made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I now have a fibre connection five times faster than I had with copper and I’m paying less per month. Always wary about changing something that has worked fine up to now but pleased to find it was a painless upgrade.

I’ll get back to PAN Books next week as the diary is looking fairly empty for once, just wondering what I might have forgotten to add to it?

“The Dam Busters”

Following on from Golden PAN awards last week the first winner was Paul Brickhill whose statue was given posthumously in 1964 for “The Dam Busters” This title reached a million sales in 1956 and PAN announced the fact by including a strapline across the bottom of editions from then shown HERE.

They also produced a special hardback edition which I was told was to coincide with the million sales and film premiere. I was also told it was limited to 100 copies and just for PAN employees. I first hear about this from a fellow PAN Fan, Derek Steer, followed up by a query from Garry Scarr in Canada. This was a long time ago and I’ve looked for a copy on and off for many years but without success.

Talking to Gordon Young he mentioned giving the flag of the ‘Laloun’ to the PAN archives but also his special hardback edition of “The Dam Busters” This made me look again and as luck would have it there was a copy on eBay for ‘Buy it Now’ or “Make an Offer” I didn’t hesitate and bought it straight away for £10 including postage. When it arrived I looked at the first page and it was given to a John Burt. On looking back at old emails Garry had said his was to an Ann Orford while Derek said there was no name in his. I’m presuming Gordon’s copy was his own, I need to check when he comes back from the holiday he needed to recover from all the excitement.

I talked to Trevor, son of John Burt, who was selling the book and he said his father never worked for PAN but for W H Smith and later became Advertising Director at “The Sunday Times” The other anomaly is that the film premiere was actually in 1955 but the special edition was not published until 18 months later.

Talking of Gordon Young, I’m not really jealous that he gets his name on the front page of every one of the 20 PAN 70th Anniversary titles but ……..!

Due to being away for part of last week and the other part being taken up fighting the rain coming into the garage since the builders took the old roof off I’ve not managed to add all the other editions of “The Dam Busters” that I wanted to do. Hopefully next week.

PAN’s 70th Birthday Bash Part 2 plus an eBay auction.

The photos on the page HERE are ones I took on the night PAN gave out six of their ‘Golden PAN Awards’ to authors for selling over a million copies of one title (apart from the one of Jackie Collins who sadly is no longer with us)

I also decided to push the boat out and buy all the 20 titles PAN reissued with the retro covers as part of their 70th. Online gave me two companies selling them at the best price I could find. I chose one as it offered ‘click and collect’ and the store was local. Unfortunately their website couldn’t cope with 20 items in the basket and crashed after 12! I then went to the other company which offered free postage and this time there was no problem.The amusing part was when the postman came to the door yesterday with my own box of parcels. The seller had only sent each one in a separate envelope or packet and on counting I find I only have 19 so hoping the last one arrives on Monday.I have to admit the 19 do look good in my vintage Bakelite bookcase, the EBCO design classic apparently. The only problem is as I said I’m one title short and unless it’s a very slim volume …..!


Disappointed in two respects regarding the “JAMES BOND AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY BY JOHN PEARSON (UNIQUE PROOF COPY PAN BOOKS)”  The first was that I didn’t ‘win’ it as I think James Bond fans must have deeper pockets than us poor PAN Fans and secondly it went for £109.07. If it was just one pound more it could have ended with 007!

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.