Archive for the 'Hamlyn' Category

The Hamlyn Book of Horror by Daniel Farson (Hamlyn, 1979)

Hamlyn Horror 1979

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The second book in Hamlyn’s horror/occult series is the hardest to find at a reasonable price, and I couldn’t locate any pages online. Luckily, I found some of the interior paintings at series artist Oliver Frey’s site.

Following the two cover images, we have depictions of the legend of Sawney Bean and his incestuous, cannibal clan, who, according to legend, ate more than 1,000 people; peasants set on fire by Vlad the Impaler; and “wolf boys” allegedly found in India in 1920 (the boys were actually girls, and the story is likely a hoax). In other words, nightly reading for ’70s kids.

The Hamlyn Book of Horror was published originally, minus the illustrations, as The Beaver Book of Horror (1977), seen below. The excellent cover of the Beaver (a Hamlyn imprint) edition is by Alan Lee.

Beaver Horror 1977

(Images via The Cobwebbed Room, Oliver Frey, and misen 23)

The Hamlyn Book of Ghosts in Fact and Fiction by Daniel Farson (Hamlyn, 1978)

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978

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Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-7

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Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-9

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978-8

The Hamlyn Book of Ghosts in Fact and Fiction was the first in a four-volume series by UK publisher Hamlyn. The other volumes, which I’ll post about separately, are The Hamlyn Book of Horror (1979), The Hamlyn Book of Mysteries (1983), and The Hamlyn Book of Monsters (1984). All but one were written by Daniel Farson (Bernard Brett wrote The Hamlyn Book of Mysteries), and all featured spectacular wraparound cover art by Oliver “Zack” Frey.

The series was probably prompted by rival publisher Usborne’s The World of the Unknown series (see here and here), first published in 1977 and aimed directly at the paranormal-obsessed youth market, although Hamlyn had been dabbling in the subject for many years: of particular interest is 1971’s Witchcraft and Black Magic by Peter Haining, a well-written overview featuring surreal, nightmarish illustrations by Jan Parker.

Ghosts in Fact and Fiction is not quite as garishly illustrated as Usborne’s All About Ghosts, though Hamlyn would ramp up the intensity for The Hamlyn Book of Horror. Usborne responded in kind—or maybe it was simple coincidence—with their Supernatural Guides (1979), three of the most delightfully gruesome introductions to occult subjects ever published.

Writer Daniel Farson led quite the eccentric life. He started his career as a journalist and appeared on several groundbreaking, investigatory news programs in the 1950s and early 1960s. He abruptly quit television and left London in 1964 to become a full-time writer. His 27 books include biographies (including one on his great-uncle, Bram Stoker), several memoirs of bohemian Soho (of which he was a contributing rake), travelogues, and two horror novels. He also wrote a volume for Aldus Books’ A New Library of the Supernatural called Vampires, Zombies, and Monster Men (1976), and a volume for Smithmark’s Great Mysteries series, Mysterious Monsters (1980).

Special thanks to The Cobwebbed Room for an excellent entry on the Hamlyn series, including full artist credits and contents lists.

(Images via Flickr and Pinterest)


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