PAN Fans Club

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks, the blog for those that do judge a book by its cover. Main site is at or

PAN Fans Club - Let's talk about PAN paperbacks, the blog for those that do judge a book by its cover. Main site is at or

Johnny Mains, ‘Panorama of History’, Alan Hunter and Astley Book Farm

I’ve not spoken to Johnny Mains for a while so thought I’d drop him an email asking how the article I sent scans for was coming on. Johnny informs me it was published in the December/January edition of ‘The Critic’ I also asked how the second revised edition of the biography of Herbert van Thal was progressing and he tells me it is still awork in progress.

I had an email from Bazeer Fulmore of the excellent website to ask if I had seen the PAN book about ‘Waterloo’ he’d spotted for sale in Australia. This made me get it and four like it off the shelf when I noticed, although all the same size, three are identified as part of the ‘Panorama of History’ series but two aren’t. I thought it might be date but four are 1972 so none the wiser.

Alan Hunter wrote 46 Inspector George Gently books of which PAN published just 6. Hunter was born on June 25, 1922 in Hoveton St John, Norfolk. He worked as a poultry farmer, was in the RAF, managed the antiquarian books department of Charles Cubitt in Norwich and became an antiquarian bookseller before becoming a novelist..Alan was married to Adelaide Cooper and died on February 26, 2005 in Brundall, Norfolk.

We can clearly identify that two of the six covers are by Sam Peffer and two by Pat Owen but we aren’t sure about ‘Gently Where the Roads Go’ I spotted what I thought was Pat’s signature and a couple of other PAN Fans agreed but checking with Pat’s wife, Sue, who checked with daughter Alex, they don’t think it is just the right edge of ‘O’ and then ‘wen’ Can anyone else help?

My wife and I popped over to the Astley Book Farm last week on the understanding we called in at a discount shoe store on the way back. How I suffer for my hobby! Sorry to say I only came away with a handful as it really was too cold to linger in the far reaches of the shop and all the ones I did buy were from the 10/- (50p in new money) barn which at least had the sun shining on it. We ended up in the cafe there at the table nearest the roaring stove which gave us a rosy glow.

Rosalind Erskine, Ian McEwan, Mika Waltari and The Pop Up Bookshop

I knew ‘The Passion Flower Hotel’ supposedly written by a 15 year old schoolgirl, which was was its big selling point, was not true although I did presume Rosalind Erskine was female. This turns out to be incorrect as well as ‘Rosalind’ was Roger Longrigg, the creative director of an advertising agency. Roger Erskine Longrigg (1 May 1929 – 26 February 2000) was a prolific British novelist from a  Scottish military family. As well as publishing some books under his own name, he principally wrote popular novels in a wide range of different styles, using different pseudonyms for each including Scottish historical novels as Laura Black; spy thrillers as Ivor Drummond; mystery thrillers as Frank Parrish. A sequel, ‘Passion Flowers in Italy’ was published by PAN but not the third title, ‘Passion Flowers in Business’

I picked up a three Picador Ian McEwan titles recently which were all signed to ‘Claire’ and only £1.99 each. These will join the several other signed McEwan titles I have as he seems to be prolific in this respect. While looking at his biography I was struck by the similarity between his background and Longrigg above, in that his father was a Scotsman who had worked his way up through the army to the rank of major. I’ve put the three covers on a page HERE but they are not amongst my favourites.

Mika Toimi Waltari was born and died in Helsinki (19/09/1908 to 26/08/1079) He was a Finnish writer, best known for his novel The Egyptian. He was extremely productive and  besides his novels he also wrote poetry, short stories, crime novels, plays, essays, travel stories, film scripts, and rhymed texts for comic strips by Asmo Alho

PAN published just one of his numerous historical novels, namely ‘The Roman’ The 100th anniversary of Waltari’s birth was celebrated by selecting the writer as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin, the €10 minted in 2008. The reverse depicts a vigilant Pharaoh watchdog referencing his famous book. The obverse is decorated with Waltari’s signature and a stylized pen nib that symbolizes the diversity of the writer’s production.

The pop up bookshop in Wolverhampton closed last Saturday after a longer than usual stay from January 22nd. I’ve been a couple of times including last Friday as there was a half price sale but sad to say I’ve not bought anything on either of the visits. Disappointing as I usually come away with a few although often not PANs. There were a some older paperbacks but the vast majority were for more recent novels but if that is what people want and brings them and their money in I can’t blame the booksellers. It is back later in the year and I live in hope …… To make up for my disappointment my wife is allowing me to go to the Astley Book Farm tomorrow so fingers crossed.

More Norman Pulsford, ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ and Ralph Barker

After posting the ‘Piccolo Puzzle Books’ by Norman G Pulsford last week HERE are some of the other puzzle books by Pulsford from PAN.

I was sent an advertisement for ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ cut from a 1968 magazine but no Idea which although it has articles about films on the back. 

Having mentioned Ralph Barker and one of his books last week I think I have now put all the titles/editions PAN published on both the individual numbers pages and on one page HERE. Again if anyone knows any I’ve not found please email.

The above was the inscription in one of Barker’s books. Ralph Hammond Cecil Barker was born in Feltham on the 21st October 1917 and educated at Hounslow College before joined the editorial staff of Sporting Life in 1934, but later went into banking. Meanwhile, he had begun writing, and several of his sketches and scenes were produced in West End Revues. Ralph joined the RAF in 1940 as a wireless operator/air-gunner and progressed his military career until 1961 when he retired voluntarily from the RAF to write full time. His first book, Down in the Drink’, was published in 1955, the first of many on the subject of military aviation. Barker left the RAF in 1961 to write full-time. He died on the 16th May 2011.

Piccolo Puzzles, ‘The Thousand Plan’ and Paul Slater’s ‘Racing Stories’ Covers

There were twelve ‘Piccolo Puzzle Books’ by Norman Pulsford with the first six based on the PAN editions. Still need to find firsts of the 3rd and 4th editions. I’ve not found out much about Pulsford apart from some bits and pieces from Ancestry. Norman George Pulsford was born on the 5th December 1902 in West Bromwich and died on the 1st February 1982 in Westminster, Greater London. In 1939 he was living at Heron Court, Richmond and was a journalist as was his wife Margaret nee Harber whom he married in October 1934. In WW2 he was in the Army Pay Corps. Can anyone add any more? I’ll post the Pulsford PAN Puzzle books next week.

I spotted a copy of ‘The Thousand Plan’ by Ralph Barker which I hadn’t seen before and thought it looked different. When I compared it to my two earlier editions I saw why. Those both said ‘Thousand’ on the cover while the later said ‘1,000’ It doesn’t use the numeric any where else in the book and I’ve not found another edition that does. The US edition from Ballantine was retitled ‘The Thousand Plane Raid’ while the film is ‘The 1000 Plane Raid’ from July 1969. Ballantine also change the title of ‘The Ship-Busters’ to ‘Torpedo Bomber!’

Paul Slater is an artist whose name often pops up on a PAN cover and two shown HERE caught my eye as they show his style so well. He was born in Burnley with no knowledge of the formal art world but went on to study at the London College of Art, where he was taught by towering figures of British illustration including Quentin Blake and Sheila Robinson. Slater’s vivid imagination and immaculate technical detail made his work highly sought after and whose eccentric work has been bought by Heston Blumenthal, Damien Hirst and many others.

FOOTNOTE One of those odd coincidences. I am currently ploughing my way through the Mo Hayder titles, which are well worth a read , and didn’t know she played Young Mr Grace’s secretary in ‘Are You Being Served?’ as well as one of ‘Hill’s Angels’ The coincidence is that Ralph Barker’s second wife, Diana Darvey, was also one of ‘Hill’s Angels’

Another PAN Fan, (P) An Auction and Dianne Doubtfire

I recently heard from fellow PAN Fan, Gareth Brown, who sent me some photos of the original artwork he has plus a fantastic rotary book stand, me jealous, not half! He said “I lost a number of books in a flood years ago and I’ve not been the in-depth collector over the years, this was mainly in the 70s/80s.  But I went to see the Art Director at Pan when I was a teenager to express my fandom and he very kindly gave me these”
The covers Gareth got were for ‘The Eighth Mrs Bluebeard’, ‘Lucy Crown’, ‘The Case of the Hesitant Heiress’, ‘Deep Water’ and ‘Holiday for Inspector West’

On the 20th March there was a auction of several lots of books including PANs and Penguins at Warren and Wignall, Auctioneers, in Leyland, Lancashire. The auction was also the online via “The Saleroom’ website. The three PAN lots were as follows;
1) Pan Books, a large collection of the first numbered series, 1 – 443, (missing numbers 164, 182, 191-197, 210, 213, 241, 251, 253, 271, 297, 301, 341 & 392), also including six of the first un-numbered editions. These sold for £2,100
2) Pan Books, a collection of mainly assorted G series paperbacks, 1958 to 1966, various authors including Ian Fleming, Agatha Christie etc. including a small number of the first numbered series, 1947-1958, approximately 142 in total. All of the Ian Fleming books appear to be first Pan Books editions, one of the Agatha Christie books is also first Pan Books edition, The Mysterious Affair at Styles is first Pan Books 6th printing. These sold for £300
3) Pan Books, a near complete collection of GP series paperbacks, 1-102, 1947 to 1958, (missing GP11, GP31 & GP101), various authors including Ian Fleming and Agatha Christie etc. includes some duplicates. These sold for £200
To the prices you needed to add 25% commission if you were in the room and another 8% on top if by phone or online. What about VAT? They do not ship so I suppose you had to go and collect them in person. If those are the going rates then even if I sold all my books I don’t think I’d make enough for that Round the World cruise!

Having picked up another copy of ‘Lust for Innocence’ by Dianne Doubtfire I was amazed to find it was an unsigned copy. I have three more copies of this title, all signed, plus ‘Reason for Violence’, signed and at least another four of her children’s books all signed. To find one unsigned seems to be the exception to the rule. Oddly I had not noticed that one copy of ‘Lust for Innocence’ and the ‘Reason for Violence’ are both to the same person but I don’t remember buying them at the same time. I’m wondering if the copy ofLust for Innocence’ to Andrea might be Andrea Newman as they were both writing around the same time? Dianne Joan Doubtfire was born in Leeds, Yorkshire on 18th October 1918 and attended Harrogate Grammar School and Slade College of Art. She became a lecturer and tutor in creative writing and twice chaired the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School plus writing a play for the BBC. She married an artist-engraver (Graham Channon?) and they lived on the Isle of Wight where she set up the ‘Wight Writers’ Dianne died in West Sussex in May 2000. PAN also published two more of her novels namely X565 ‘Kick a Tin Can’ and ‘The Flesh is Strong’