Amongst the items they had on display were books, covers, photos, and memorabilia from the entire period. There was a great potted history, (some of which you can see via the link below) lots of author photos and bios and fun stuff. My favourite exhibit was a collection of lines extracted to give the visitors a smile. Stuff like (paraphrased) “she always helped mummy with the dishes because Mummy was usually under the doctor for something or other.” We were in hoots. I only wish they’d had a programme for sale that I could have regaled you with, but I understand a book is due out in August.
Ooh, they also had a corset made entirely of book spines with selected words and titles, loved it to bits. A very fun and inspiring exhibition, and it even included right up to the minute stuff like Kimani books, and the Japanese Harlequin with the amazing Manga covers.
For me it was a real trip down memory lane because I grew up reading Mills and Boon/Harlequin books. It was also special because one of my more recent days mentors, Nicola Cornick, was featured there too. And now I’m a small part of it with my forthcoming Spice Briefs titles. Lovely day!
Here’s some more info and links:
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.
Mills & Boon's output has been a barometer of British social and cultural history in ways you may not have imagined. The last century has seen enormous change in terms of the roles of the sexes, the class system, motherhood and rising standards of living. Mills & Boon novels, while seeming on the surface to be escapist, have held a mirror up to British society. This responsiveness to the national mood has helped the publisher to remain popular over the last 100 years.
In 1997 the term 'Mills and Boon' was added to the Oxford English Dictionary, to mean a romantic story book.
The exhibition And Then He Kissed Her… 100 Years of Mills & Boon runs at Manchester Central Library from 6th June - 31st July 2008.
If you can't get to the exhibition, you can check out all the info on the linked pages here, lots of interesting stuff!