Kingston University MA Publishing lecturer Judith Watts may only just have embarked on her PhD relating to the Mills & Boon archive, but she’s already revealing some of the company’s intimate secrets. Interviewed by the Independent and the BBC today, Judith describes how M&B editors created a personal collection of favoured lines from their own publications, by taking “material from the manuscripts rather mischievously. They have a wicked sense of humour.”
Examples featured in what the editors described as an “anthology of artless extracts” include:
“Mrs White heaved at something under the blanket and produced a pineapple”
“Grant sat down on the edge of the bed, a man with a firm grip on himself”
“Wipe your eyes and stop crying all over my diaphragm”
“It’s terrible to be beautiful and a young girl”
“I am not St Paul”
The unpublished editorial collection is part of the Mills & Boon archive, which Judith considers a national treasure. Offering “a unique glimpse into the history and success of one of the most-loved and successful series of romantic fiction books”, internal documents like this, as well as correspondence between Mills & Boon authors and the publisher, provide opportunities to explore the changing nature of the romantic novel. “Though the language of love evolved to reflect each era,” says Judith, “the genre’s role in providing pleasure and escape was constant”.