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100 Years of Mills & Boon Centenary Exhibition Opens June 6

For our UK readers, the 100 Years of Mills & Boon Centenary Exhibition opens on June 6th at the Manchester Central Library. According to the Manchester site,

The exhibition explores the evolution of 20th century social and sexual mores in Britain, alongside the development of the world’s leading romance publisher. You’ll also find a company history and centenary time line, a fascinating collection of books and cover art, writer biographies, manuscripts, original correspondence between authors and editors and associated memorabilia.

The website has a brief timeline. As of 2000,

Mills & Boon books are sold in 109 countries, translated into 26 languages. 130 million were sold last year, and a Mills & Boon book is bought every three seconds


Mills & Boon was purchased by Harlequin in October 1971 (according to Pamela Regis).

The Centenary Exhibition has increased literary news coverage of Mills & Boon and the latest is an interesting article out of The Independent which features quotes from Penny Jordan, author of over 100 romances. She gives the secret of a good romantic read:

What is secret of a good romantic read? "There is no secret. I still worry about each book I submit; you never know whether it has hit the spot until your editor has read it," she admits. "The Mills & Boon books are short. The emotional intensity and sexual heat you have to generate between two characters is challenging. There is always a conflict in the romance which I try to resolve in my writing. The male character generally has to travel the longest journey in the story. First he usually has to realise that he does loves the woman. Secondly he then may have to realise that in order to be with her he may have to change. This point for me is very romantic because they both make the decision to value the relationship more than their prejudices, fears, or barriers put up to protect themselves from the pain of experiencing the past."

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. (Jān)
    May 29, 2008 @ 09:55:10

    Wait, M&B has been around selling romance novels for 100 years? That’s amazing! You know, I’d love to read a couple romances from each decade to watch their progression. I wonder if the older ones are impossible to come by.

  2. Meriam
    May 29, 2008 @ 10:17:31

    Jan, that would be a really cool project.

    I’m a UK reader and I’m really looking forward to attending this exhibition. I’m a little put out that it isn’t in London, where I’m based. (Sulk: why can’t London be the center of the universe, for my convenience?)

    Between this and the Klimpt exhibition in Liverpool, it looks as though I might be venturing North this summer *shivers fearfully*

  3. francois
    May 29, 2008 @ 10:21:23

    I was heading up to Liverpool anyway(not just for the Klimt, theres a Beatles obsessive in the family) so might stop in on the way. I love those old brown M&Bs. Still reasonably findable in charity shops, though barely readable. If you think M&Bs are patronising now, wait til you read the older ones!

  4. Laura Vivanco
    May 29, 2008 @ 15:25:44

    I love those old brown M&Bs. Still reasonably findable in charity shops, though barely readable.

    You must live near some really good charity shops and I feel extremely envious. I felt very lucky when I came across a small number from the 1980s and an even smaller number from the 1970s recently.

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