Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday Talktime - More on the Centenary

This Thursday PHS columnist Kate Walker reveals the most up to date news on the publications and events that are part of the ongoing celebrations for Mills & Boon's Centenary year.

As you already know (and if you don’t, where have you been? ) 2008 is the date of Mills & Boon’s 100th birthday and the celebrations and events have been going on all you so far. Some of these - like the Centenary birthday party in February - have already been reported but there have been others that haven’t and there are still some more coming up. So here’s a quick run down of what else you can expect in this important year.

As you can imagine, the PHS editors, columnists and other authors have been very much involved with the celebration events and on May 17th, four of us, together with Mills & Boon Editor Suzanne Clarke took part in the Lincoln Book Festival. In the afternoon, I gave a two-hour workshop on writing romance and this was to launch the second, revised and expanded edition of the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance.

That evening there was also a Celebration of 100 Years of Romancing Readers. Kate Walker, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley and Kate Hardy discussed the world of romantic fiction and what it takes to write for Mills & Boon. “From first glances until happily ever after.”

Because we all know each other, the whole event became very informal. We all talked about our writing careers and how we came to be writing for Mills & Boon, and the lines we’re in. Everyone chipped in, adding bits to everyone else’s answers and the event was more like a chat with a group of friends.

The audience were invited to share a celebratory glass of champagne with us and everyone who attended took away a special Mills & Boon goody bag with special gifts from the company as part of the celebrations. Many of the authors had also donated books (many of them signed) to go into a special collection which was to be given away as a raffle prize. The proceeds from the raffle went to Breast Cancer Research, a charity that M&B is proud to be connected with. The raffle was drawn on the night and the lucky winner was already a well-established romance reader – someone who bought 18 books a month! (We love readers like that) She was so excited to have won that she was shaking all over when I presented her with the prize.

Other events coming up are these:
Thursday, June 5, 2008 - Saturday, August 9, 2008 Mills & Boon Exhibition Manchester Central Library St Peter’s Square, Manchester .

This colourful exhibition features many wonderful book covers, photographs, cartoons and memorabilia. It weaves together the books and their writers and the women readers of romance, against the backdrop of history from the suffragette era through two world wars to the present day.

The exhibition traces the evolution in romantic fiction of Mills & Boon over 100 years, reflecting the enormous changes in women's lives in work, family and, of course, sex. But it also highlights the contribution of Mills & Boon to the enduring appeal of romance, and the happy ending with the hero and heroine falling in love.

Our research is based on the Mills & Boon archive, interviews and the books themselves. We tell the colourful story of this amazing company which grew from tiny beginnings as a general publisher to the biggest romance publisher in the world.' – Margaret O'Brien, Exhibition Curator.

After August 9th, the exhibition will be going out to other parts of the country so hopefully as many people as want to will be able to see it.

I’ve been invited to the opening of the exhibition on June 5th so I hope to report back about it in more detail either here or over on my blog. In the meantime, you can read more about the exhibition here.

Saturday June 14, 2008 - Monday, June 16, 2008 Cape Town Book Fair
(Sadly, I’ve not been invited to this!)

Saturday, June 14, 2008 Regency Day Manchester Central Library Nicola Cornick Workshop, Regency Crafts, Regency dancing class

There will also be an author forum featuring best-selling writer Penny Jordan (over 80 million books sold worldwide) at the Manchester Literary Festival on Saturday 18th October.

In connection with the Manchester Exhibition, I’ve also been asked to run a workshop on Writing Romance at Hale Library – probably on July 19th (to be confirmed)

And on October 17th (to be confirmed) I'll be at Guildford Book Festival

There will be rolling PR campaign throughout 2008, including a research survey in conjunction with the National Year of Reading, library events, regional author workshops and readings.

If you want to find out more about any Centenary events and see if anything is happening in your area, then keep an eye on this page on the Mills & Boon Site

But if you can’t get to any of the events, you can still join in the celebrations with some of the special Centenary publications. To mark their 100th birthday, each month, M&B are publishing a special 100th Birthday Edition book. These celebratory editions are packed with extra features and include a FREE bonus story. May’s book is the Last Rake in London by Nicola Cornick and June’s will be A Perfect Marriage by Kathryn Shay.

Other special publications are the fantastic Centenary Collection which features 24 novellas by a great selection of M&B’s most popular authors – authors like Lynne Graham, Michelle Reid, Liz Fielding, Lucy Gordon, Sandra Marton, There’s even one by Kate Walker. You can buy these books with their special retro style covers and collect them as they come out each month (they cost £1.49 each) or buy the whole set from the M&B site for the bargain price of just £23.00, plus £2 P&P. This is the best bargain of the year!

Then there are the cards. The brand new Mills & Boon card range from Peachy Keen takes wonderfully retro book covers from Mills & Boon past classics and gives them a humorous makeover. The cards were worked on by the Peachy Keen in-house design team and two stand-up comediennes in order that both the design and the humour were spot on. The range consists of 24 cards and launched in February. At least that’s what I’m told – but I haven’t seen any in the shops yet so if you spot them please let me know!

Have you seen the M&B jigsaw? That’s right – the jigsaw. If you love romances, and you love puzzles, then this is a great souvenir of this special year. The jigsaw has 1000 pieces that combine to create an image of 10 past covers dating from 1958 to 1991. I’ve already bought one of these for my MIL and if you’d like a chance to win one of them, there will be a contest coming up on my blog very soon.

Finally, of course there are the TV programmes – the last I heard there were two, possibly three in production. There’s the Channel 4 documentary with Julie Moggan that I wrote about earlier, and one that BBC 4 is making where Stella Duffy is trying to write a romance for Mills & Boon.

So that’s a round up of what’s happening - so far. As I get more information and details of events/publications etc I’ll let you know.

When Kate's not giving workshops or celebrating or visting exhibitions, she's busy writing her next book. Her latest Harlequin Presents - Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife is published in June. And in the same month, her bestselling Alcolar Family Trilogy is being rereleased in an ebook Bundle - available from

Oh - and do you see that poster in the pic of the gang at the Lincoln Book Festival? That's the official M&B Centenary poster. I have three of them to give away so if you fancy winning one to put on your wall, just post a message today - and add a 'poster - yes please ' to your message and I'll get Sid to do his stuff and pick the winners.


  1. Kate,

    A hundred years is such a long time, especially in publishing. Isn't it fantastic to be a part of the centenary celebrations. I'm wishing I could visit the UK for some of the events there this year. It sounds like wonderful fun, even if it's taking some effort too.

    I do so want to get my hands on some of those cards. I suspect they won't be on sale here in Australia though. If anyone knows how to get them online, I'd appreciate hearing.

    Caongratulations on having a special Centenary Collection edition, Kate. Now that's an achievement!


  2. Wonderful and interesting post about the Centenary. Enjoyed learning about this special celebration. Poster - yes, please.

  3. Hi Annie

    The Centenary is a very special event, isn't it? And it's a pretty busy time. I know that some of the M&B staff are stretched to fit in everything. And I seem to be rushing here there and everywhere - but , hey, there won't be another year like this - not for another 100 years!

    And yes, I'm thrilled by that Centenary Collection book.


  4. Hi Petite

    The whole centenary celebration is great, isn't it? So much going on


  5. Wow, 100 years, talk about longevity. I love looking at the old covers and seeing how they've changed through the years. Poster- yes, please .

  6. Hi Jane

    I'm so proud to be part of a company that's been so successful for 100 years. And like you I eally love looking at the older covers and seeing how they used to look compared with now

    Jane and Petite please email me kate AT kate-walker. com so that I can send you your posters.


  7. Here's a link to a card I got recently in Muswell Hill, London. I think I'll go back and get the rest... but would like to get the covers as they were, does anybody know if there is an online archive of them (in hi-rez)?

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