Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Something Happened After All: Jane Shaw in the 1960s

This is the cover of Nothing Happened After All, the second of the Dizzy and Alison books, published by Collins in 1965. Jane Shaw's heyday was certainly the 1950s in terms of sales. But she was just as prolific, if less successful, in the 1960s. We often talk of her winding down her career in the sixties, but when you add it up, she produced an admirable number of books during her last decade as an author. The Moochers and Penny series had drawn to a close, but the Susan series continued, albeit with less frequent publications and fewer sales. The sixties also brought the two Northmead books, Crooks Tour, Brer Rabbit, Left-Handed Tumfy and the Dizzy and Alison stories. There were also the two Spitfire paperbacks under the pen name of Jean Bell. Despite all these publications, her sales diminished as the years passed and her publishers do not seem to have gone out of their way to advertise her stories. Another factor that helped to keep her out of the limelight is that she stopped publishing short stories in the Collins annuals after 1963. My favourite story of hers was her last, A Job for Susan, published in 1969. It is admirable that the quality of her writing never diminished over the thirty years that she was a published author. There were minor hiccups like The Crew of the Belinda, and even a couple of dodgy short stories like The Onion Man, but in a general sense the quality of her writing was very high.