Mills and Boon

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Mills & Boon has become a hallmark for romantic fiction and made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, meaning "a (type of) popular romantic novel". The publisher celebrated a 100 years of pure reading pleasure in 2008.

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The Company

Mills & Boon Limited was founded in 1908 by Gerald Mills and Charles Boon. Although publishing writers like comic novelist P. G Wodehouse in the beginning, romance fiction became the publisher's primary business. As the company grew, its books became known as the books in brown in the 1920s because of their distinctive binding, although eye catching dust jackets became the selling points in the 1930s. Equally new was the idea to publish new titles in regular intervals - every fortnight - thus setting the pattern for many romance lines to follow.

By building a strong relationship with lending libraries and making their product available through newsagents, Mills & Boon's reasonably priced product was easy-to-purchase, leading to increased sales. In 1957, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, then a smaller publisher, acquired rights to Mills & Boon's Doctor Nurse Romances, which lead to eventually romance fiction comprising Harlequin's entire list. From that moment on both companies bought titles from each other.

By the early 1960's the lending libraries were beginning to close down as the public turned more and more to buying the now well-established, readily available and very reasonably priced paperback editions. Mills & Boon, faced with a rapid decline of its traditional market, investigated the possibility of publishing its hitherto hardcover editions in paperback format. For a while paperback Harlequin Romances were published as Mills & Boon Romances in the UK but kept their original Harlequin Romance numbering. Jane Fraser - a pseudonym of Rosamunde Pilcher - published Young Bar in 1952 as Mills & Boon hardcover, was reissued in North America as Harlequin Romance #958 in October 1965 and came back to the UK as Mills & Boon Romance #958 in 1966, printed in Canada (search here).

In the 1960s Mills & Boon launched its own paperback Mills & Boon Romance imprint although hardcovers remained a major output. Until today (2008) most titles of the genuine Mills & Boon imprints (the two Romance lines and the medical and historical romances) are released 2 month prior to the paperback edition as a limited edition of hardcovers, and months later as large prints. Thus many paperback series titles of January and February have a copyright date of the previous year.

Harlequin Enterprises Limited purchased Mills & Boon Limited in 1971, but only as late as May 1995 the publisher's name changed to Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, whereas Mills & Boon is still used for the imprints.

In 1974 Mills & Boon established Mills & Boon Australia, now Harlequin Mills & Boon, the first venture outside North-America and the United Kingdom. The latest step abroad was founding Harlequin Mills & Boon India Private Ltd in December 2007 to distribute Mills & Boon titles printed in India for the Indian market

When Harlequin Enterprises Limited bought Silhouette in 1984, Mills & Boon took over publishing the Silhouette Desire and Silhouette Special Edition imprints in the UK from Hodder & Stoughton and set up its own Silhouette line. In March 2007 the Silhouette nomination was dropped and all imprints were labelled Mills & Boon.

Mills & Boon adopted the Mira imprint in 1995 as a line to publish single titles. It included releases from the North American imprint of that name as well as Harlequin and Silhouette Special Releases and lately HQN titles.

For a long time every Mills & Boon and Silhouette imprint had its characteristic cover. This changed in July 2000 when the Mills & Boon imprints got an uniform cover and only the different colouring marked the imprint. These covers got a complete overhaul in July 2004 and July 2007, the later including the former Silhouette imprints, renamed to Mills & Boon in March 2007.



Current Imprints

Defunct Imprints

Reissue Series/Collections

More about Mills & Boon on the Web

  • Mills & Boon's history on its website
  • Joseph McAleer, Passion's Fortune: The Story of Mills & Boon, Oxford University Press, 1999; The history of Mills & Boon, written for the 90th anniversary of the firm in 1998, with a very detailed account of the relationship between Mills & Boon and Harlequin in the early days of their cooperation and eventually merger - partly available via Google Books.
  • 100 years of romancing the readers - Yorkshire Press (1/2008)
  • Some hints on the guidelines for a Mills & Boon romance.
  • Interview with Penny Jordan and Roger Sanderson (aka Gill Sanderson) at the Sky Book Show about writing a Mills & Boon novel.
  • A Hundred Years of Mills and Boon - British comedian Lucy Porter examines the centennial of Mills & Boon on this radio program. Guests include Helen Fielding, Fay Weldon, and Roger Sanderson, a male romance novelist.
  • The Iconic Artwork of Mills & Boon - A slideshow of classic covers through the ages.
  • Mills & Boon on Flickr - The M&B Photostream on Flickr, many covers shown.
  • Many more items on Mills & Boon are listed in the page about Romance in the Media.