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

RIP Shirley Hughes, Incorporation, Pop Up Bookshop Again and Congratulations.

I was sorry to hear of the death of (Winfred) Shirley Hughes at the age of 94 on 25th February 2022. She  was born on 16th July 1927 and grew up on the Wirral at West Kirby, a town I know well.. Shirley was the youngest of three daughters born to bargain store magnate TJ Hughes. She won many awards including the Kate Greenaway twice, in 1977 and 2003 and is probably most fondly remembered for her character ‘Alfie’ I have only found seven PAN/Piccolo titles with a connection to Shirley but I am still looking,  I have put these on a page HERE

While looking for something completely different I got a reference to Companies House and a link to the ‘Certificate of Incorporation’ for PAN Books. I thought that might be interesting but if you click on the link to the document HERE you’ll see why I was disappointed!

It was good to see the pop up bookshop back in Wolverhampton again last week,. I nearly missed it but managed the last day and came away with half a dozen books plus some first day covers with stamps by Brian Sanders for only a couple of pounds.. It is good to have it back after quite a long break and hoping for many more ‘pop ups’ this year. Speaking to the organisers they say the shopping centre are very pleased to have them there as they bring in customers that might not normally visit, me incliuded! Another plus side is we now have the direct bus to Wolverhampton reinstated even though the timetable is a bit erratic.

Not PAN but I couldn’t let the news of a near neighbour (does 7 houses between us count as near neighbiour?)  Daniel Wiles pass without congratulating him on his new book. He has been included in the 10 best debut novelists of 2022 for his book ‘Mercia’s Take’ I have a oopy and hopefully can bump into Daniel to get him to sign it after I have read it. Just wondering if my wife taught him at primary school?

Football, Grace Metalious and Lyn Kirby

I’ve never been a football fan having only been to a ‘proper’ match once and that was enough. It happened because West Bromwich Albion owned the house next door for their managers to use and one year we got tickets from Jimmy Hagan for the directors box for a match on boxing day. It was at bit embarrassing having to ask after fifteen minutes which team were Albion and which were Spurs. PAN appears to have taken over publications from the Football Association themselves sometime around the early 70s and I have added a few of these plus other football related titles HERE I got several of these in a ‘bumper bundle’ and for once I am not going to be a completist for all of them!

Always on the lookout for cover variations I found a few more covers for Grace Metalious. The two from 1974 are not really eye catchers plus the 1971 cover for ‘Peyton Place‘ is just a variation. The one I really want to get is the 1972 edition of ‘Peyton Place’ which matches ‘Return to Peyton Place’ for which I have the artwork but no idea of the artist. The only copies I have seen are on sites in the Far East and the one I’ve ‘sponged’ is from Kuala Lumper and the seller doesn’t ship to the UK!

One of those weird coicidences happened this week when I was really pleased to be contatced by Lyn Kirby, who worked at PAN as Cover Controller from 1979, and who mentioned football as had I. Lyn emailed me her menories of working in the ‘warm, dusty and dark basement’ which you can read about here.

“I started at Pan Books in Cavaye Place in 1979 as a Production Assistant. I had no plan to work in Publishing, but I went for an interview via a recruitment agency and I think I got the job because I actually read books! Not like now when you need degrees, internships and extra publishing qualifications.
I was 18 years old and desperate to work in London for some reason. I started off helping all the different people in the Production department with typing, filing etc and moved on to being Cover Controller within a few months. My bosses were Dennis Crutcher as Production Manager and David Bleasdale who was Production Director.
I worked quite closely with Stan Boswarva who was the sweetest guy imaginable – he gave me a ticket for the QPR v Spurs FA Cup Final because he knew I was a QPR supporter and he got tickets from the Referees Association as I think Pan did their book. And I remember Ken Hatherley well – I loved going over to the Studios on the other side of the road to Cavaye Place. I think it was called Stanley Studios which was a bit of co-incidence
So my main job as Cover Controller was to get all of the new covers repro’d from original artworks or transparencies, proofed and approved. Then decide who out of our 3 main cover printers was going to print them, arrange for them to be uv varnished or in special cases, laminated. I had to ensure they were all delivered to the book printer in time for them to be bound.
Reprints was a case of getting the job bag out from the basement and checking what the last cover was and then reprinting. The first cover I ever did was the graphic representation of ‘Penmarric by Susan Howarth. I was so proud to see it in a bookshop.
The basement was warm and dusty and very dark if someone turned the lights out for a joke. The racks were full of old cover artworks which I used to flick through now and again to admire the bright colours and the then, old fashioned styles.
Some were still in job bags but most were just placed in the racks in random order. If I had known they were going to be thrown out or destroyed, I might have done something about it but I would have been too young and honest to have taken them home!
Sadly I never had anything to do with the artists during my time there and we were moving on to photographic covers by then anyway. I had left for another job in book production by the time the covers were going to be thrown out.
I did meet some very famous authors though when I was lunch relief on Reception imcufing Jackie Collins, Douglas Adams and Barbara Cartland.
I don’t work in Publishing anymore but made it to Production Manager of various publishing companies handling multi million pound printing budgets and being responsible for all book production so not bad for a girl who got the job because she could touch type and had read interesting books!

I now run vintage fairs and other events as a part time job – well not even a job really but it keeps me in books and vintage costume jewellery (my other love)”

I’d like to thank Lyn for getting in touch, for her memories of her time at PAN and for kindly attached two photos, one from 1984, just after she left PAN, the other from 1994.

Puffin not PAN Artwork, Pearl Buck and ‘Trouble in July’

As I think I’ve said before I do like the original artwork for book covers and when something turns up at a reasonable price, even if not PAN, I’ll consider it. Now I hope the seller isn’t reading this because £15 for the original artwork, a printers proof and a copy of the book was a bargain. There were three titles on offer and for some reason or other this only got one bid, miine. The artist is Janina Ede (1937 to 2018) who was born in Southampton and worked for several publishers including Penguin.

So far I have found eleven titles from Pearl Buck with her name written as above and all dated around 1975. Other titles are listed inside but are they companion editions with the same artwork style in this series? I shall keep looking and updating if I discover others but again if you know others please email or comment.

I spotted some artwork for a cover which looked familiar and looking through Hans Helweg’s sketches and preliminary paintings I spotted one very similar. I was not 100% sure for which title the cover was intended but I thought it was an Erskine Caldwell. Luckily the artwork was labelled and it was a Caldwell, namely ‘Trouble in July’ The problem is I’ve not found a published edition with this cover although Hans was paid to re-do it in 1964, does any one have a copy with this artwork?

‘Laloun’, ‘Lonely Road’ and three ‘JB’ snippets.

This weeks artwork by Hans Helweg is for Nicholas Monsarrat’s ‘The Ship That Died of Shame’  As has been told before the ship in the title was actually PAN’s boat the ‘Laloun. This was sold in 1949 to a consortium and was used to carry duty frees from North Africa to the South of France/Northern Italy (in other words ‘smuggling’ ) and was eventually caught. Picture above ‘Laloun’ and below one of the boats used in the film. S-10, was converted to a private motor yacht, ‘mv Taifun’, at Falmouth Boat Construction, and In the film, she was MGB 1087 ‘after the war’. Three different boats were in fact used n the filming, S-10, MTB 528 and MTB ‘Gay Dragoon’. Sometime after the film was made ‘mv Taifun’ was sold and skippered by Hugh Edwards, the brother of the comedian Jimmy Edwards, motored to Tangiers and was ‘lost’ in ‘suspicious circumstances’ in the Mediterranean” (thanks to ‘British Military Powrboat Team’ website for this information) The story of what happened to the Taifun is told in the book Midnight Trader’

Still going through Hans Helweg’s sketches and I found three that go with ‘Lonely Road’ by Nevil Shute 1968 edition. Looking at the later 1962 edition and the 1971 , these both feature the element of the burning truck as seen in the first edition with a cover by David Tayler. I think the later 1962 edition might be by Pat Owen as he did several which appeared in this ‘bands’ style. I could make a few guesses as to the 1971 but would love to know for certain.

Three James Bond related snippets this week. The first is one you probably already know about but I hadn’t noticed in until it was mentioned on a Facebook page that Rex Archer’s cover for Diamonds are Forever’ bears an uncanny resemblance to James Meese’s ‘Widow’s Pique’ from Perma. The second is a photograph of Moonraker’ covers coming off the presses while the third is a screen capture of ‘Jason King’ looking at a copy of ‘Goldfinger’ PAN published two ‘Jason King’ books written by John Burke under the name Robert Miall.

Axel Scheffler, Pearl Buck and Esther Costello

Axel Scheffler, Golden PAN Award winner, was top of the 2021 list ol artists who illustrated children’s literature.  He was the most successful illustrator both in terms of value and volume, with his biggest-selling title being Cat’s Cookbook’ in which he collaborated with Julia Donaldson about a cat who is looking for a recipe book in a library, and part of the duo’s Acorn Wood series. In the list are at least three Golden PAN Award winners, namely Axel, Lydia Monks and Rod Campbell. I have photos of the first two with their award but I’d love to find one of Rod. I was in contact with his agent but nothing came of it. You can see them at work and their book titles mentioned HERE

I was going to try and be clever and put ‘hotspots’ on this scan of a page Pearl Buck covers from 1966 but that will be one for another day as they seem to be a bit hit and miss so far. Instead I’ll just put links to the titles.

‘The Living Reed’
‘With A Delicate Air’
‘The Mother’
Fighting Angel’
‘The Boindmaid’
‘Dragon Seed’

Having included some artwork by Hans Helweg in the previous list of Pearl Buck titles I found a few more of Hans  Helweg’s I had forgotten about. This weeks is for Nucholas Monsarrat’s ‘The Story of Esther Costello’ for which Hans got paid £50 16s The film tells the story of teenager Esther who has been deaf and blind since the accident which killed her mother. Wealthy Margaret Landi, a native of Esther’s village in Ireland, is talked into helping to educate and possibly heal Esther. Margaret grows to love Esther as a daughter, but finds Esther’s innocence threatened by sleazy promoters and her own sleazy ex-husband. Any similarity to Helen Keller is purely coincidental apparently!

Sam ‘PEFF’ Peffer, Gerrard Quinn and an awful cover!

I’ve wanted an original ‘PEFF’ for quite a while and when I came across a poster at a reasonable price I couldn’t resist. I’m still after a book cover but it will do as a ‘stop gap’ It came with the quad poster but not sure if I will be allowed to put it on public display! The film Cruel Passion’ was released in 1977 and tells of Justine “A nubile young virgin cast out of a French orphanage and thrust into a depraved world of prostitution, predatory lesbians, a fugitive murderess, bondage, branding, and one supremely sadistic monk. It’s a twisted tale of strange desires, perverse pleasures and the ultimate corruption of innocence as told by the Marquis de Sade” I feel, purely for research purposes, the need to watch this! If anyone has a copy of the video with this artwork I’d love a good scan of it to add to the page.

Gerrard Quinn only painted three covers for PAN as far as I can tell but was generally a prolific S/F artist. ‘The Irish News’ reported his death in 2015 and included a photograph of him at work and a copy of ‘Prelude to Space’ (not on simplified screen) His other two tiles were Spaceways’ and ‘Childhood’s End’ Does anuyone recgonise the artwork he is working on?

While searching for PAN covers as I do, I occasionally come across one I’ve not seen before and think ‘Is that really better than those before?’ One such cover is the 1978 edition of The Nun’s Story’ with artwork by Gwenyth Jones. She is a familiar name having done many covers for PAN and is also a memeber of ‘Artist Partners’ as were so many other PAN cover artists. I’ve added it to the page for the other editions so you’ll need to scroll to the bottom of the page to see front and back.

Nile Bound, Hans Helweg? and Jeremy Birch

Most of the time I ignore bound copies of PANs as they are usually of the BYO (Bind Your Own) variety but this one on eBay I couldn’t resist as it appears to be a professional job. The title on the cover is from the paperback cover but they have gone to the trouble to deboss the section where it is afixed. The inscription inside reads ‘Stolen from Denis J McDowell’ and although I have nothing to back it up I’d like to think it is the Ulster artist who was born 1926 and died in 1990.

I’m still trying to match up the sketches and rough paintings I have from Hans Helweg with possible covers but I’ve been mainly looking at PANs although he did do a few covers for other publishers. I’m wondering if this might be his work for CORGI although I can’t see a signature or his intials?

Just to say thank you to fellow PAN Fan Jeremy Birch who is my unofficial ‘The Times’ press cuttings agent and regularly sends me a package of clippings. In the latest bumper batch they seem to show the newspapers continued fascination with all things related to ‘The Dam Busters’, James Bond and John Le Carre. Jeremy is currently reasearching as to whether ot not it is ‘The Dam Busters’ as PAN uses or ‘The Dambusters’, anyone who can help?

I’m hoping this blog will publish itself on time as I am currently staying at Warwick Castle for my birthday treat. This is the fifth time of booking as all the others have been scuppered by COVID rules and regulations.

‘The Book Guide’, Perry Mason and Spuds.

I had an email from Peter Miller asking if I would mind giving ‘The Book Guide’ a mention which I am more than happy to do. Peter wrote “There used to be an online secondhand bookshop guide run by Mike Goodenough at Inprint. I used to post frequent reviews. This site closed down a few years ago, to great lamentations from anyone like me who used it to inform our travels. It was resurrected last year in a new and improved version which retains all the data and reviews from the old site plus new updated information. The news hasn’t got around fast though, so the site creators have asked regular reviewers like me to try to spread the word” I use it a lot when I am travelling around as it lists secondhand bookshops in the UK and Ireland that are checked by ‘real people’ and with ‘real comments’ as to what they have found. It is very easy easy to navigate by county and welcomes suggestions for any shops not included or will remove one that might have gone out of business, something all too common these days. Please take a look and let them know if there is anything to change even if it is only for your local area.

Looking through a PAN catalogue from the 2nd December 1966 I saw a page promoting Perry Mason titles featuring the circles on the cover as above. It says there are 22 titles but I can only 17 in this format so as usual I am left wondering if they are also including earlier printings. Some are labelled as part of PAN’s ‘Best of American Crime Fiction’ series. I also have a couple of Gardner’s in the same style but featuring Terry Clane and Rob Trenton and not Perry Mason. Gardner wrote 86 Perry Mason cases out of his 127 titles in total although, as usual, there appears to be discrepancies in numbers either way. 

I do like the eclectic mix of titles published by PAN over the years such as ‘The Potato Cookbook’ In the book you will find ‘everything there is to know about potatoes from how they help with slimming, as an aphrodisiac, the breakfast pototo, potato picnics, flans and pies and fully illustrated!. While perusing this rivetting read I was reminded of a cartoon I quite liked in the latest copy of ‘Private Eye’ 

Farley Mowat, John Creasey and the National Trust

Back in April last year I made a page for Farley Mowat although I was still one title short. I had almost given up waiting for it to arrive from the States, having ordered it back in January, but being the optimist I though I’d give it a little more  time. The seller and I eventually decided it was lost and I got my money back but I was really pleased to find another copy appear just after Christmas. It was ‘Lost in the Barrens’ and although no picture it wasn’t expensive. When it arrived it had a brown paper cover (remember those on school books?) and removing it found it in excellent condition but sorry to say no cover artist credited. Now added to the page.

Looking on the shelf at the John Creasey editions I find I have eleven with Creasey’s name in the font as above. I am sure there must be more as some of these editions list other titles but are they in this style? Again we are back to sellers not showing images of the books but I supposed if you are dealing in thousands ‘stacking them high and selling them cheap’ it could be very time consuming. The eleven titles can be seen HERE.

Being convinced we would be in lockdown here in the UK at Christmas my wife and I went out visting local National Trust properties to make the most of our freedom. The visits were four fold 1) To get out in the fresh air 2) To see the houses decorated for Christmas, Attingham wins with 40 dressed Christmas trees 3) To drop off some books for their shops and hopefully 4) To buy a few more but not that successful in that department my wife was pleased to find!

One of the many book rooms at Attingham Park with a welcoming fire.
The one room at Shughborough Hall which has recently opened.
One of the book rooms at Moseley Old Hall.

The statistics are quite impressive and speaking to a volunteer at Shughborough he said they had only opened the shop in 2019 and in spite of all the closures they had made over £20,000 clear profit which they are allowed to do with as they want for their property. Baddesley Clinton Hall raised over  £50,000 just in their summer sale alone a few years back, hopefully it may return in 2022.

A Nice Mention, More Plaidy and James Herriot

Welcome to 2022 and to many more PAN related blogs.

On Christmas Eve I received a copy of the ‘Eden Valley Heritage’ magazine and was very pleased to see the article on PAN Books I was asked about several months ago. It was because of the link between PAN and Edenbridge which I had mentioned after a visit there to see the despatch centre a few years ago.

I’m going to finish off the Jean Plaidy titles over the next few blogs as you’ll be pleased to hear not there are not that many left. This time it’s for The Stuarts’

I was very pleased to come across a video uploaded to YouTube entitled ‘James Herriot – Portrait of a Bestseller as it showed Alf Wright, better know under his pen name of James Herriot, receiving his fourth ‘Golden PAN Award’ for selling a million copies of Vet In Harness I had some of these shots before as parts of the video were used in an edition ‘Countryfile’ on BBC1 in 2016 but not including the award ceremony. I’ve now included them on the page I made after visiting his museum in Thirsk.

Just noticed I hadn’t sent up the new version of the page for ‘The Devil Never Sleeps’ as mentioned last week. I added the page from the film publicity booklet where it refers to the PAN eiditon. In Germany the film was released as ‘China-Story’