The Good, The Bad and The Extraordinary

The Sheffield Hallam University Popular Fiction Reading Group (1900-1950) has now reached its tenth birthday, and celebrations are planned. There will be an event at the University on July 19th (of which more later), and there will be a publication.

The Good, the Bad and the Extraordinary is a collection of reviews by members of the group, giving an idea of the wide range of books we discuss at our monthly meetings. The reviews are arranged in chronological order, from Anne of Green Gables, first published in 1908, through to Torment for Trixie by Hank Janson, from 1950.

Popular fiction is a wide term, and we have treated it without bothering too much about a strict definition. This allows the reviews to cover everytthing from the seething romance of Ehel M. Dell to the sensible realism of Lettice Cooper’s National Provincial, but with detours for the unashamed swashbuckling of Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche and The Place of the Lion, a strange and rather disturbing theological best-seller by Charles Williams.

My own reviews are of thrillers – Leslie Charteris’s The Last Hero, my personal favourite among his ‘Saint’ books, and the aforementioned Torment for Trixie, in many ways a terrible novel,but one that tells us a great deal about the times in which it was created.

The event will take place on the evening of July 19th at Sheffield Hallam University.

Here is the programme:

Reading 1900-1950 Tenth Anniversary Celebration Programme, 19th July 2022

Room Owen 744 (TBC)

5.00-5.30. Professor Faye Hammill, University of Glasgow: ‘Ocean Liners in Interwar Fiction’ (via zoom)

5.30–6.00. Professor Tony Taylor, Sheffield Hallam University: ‘William Le Queux, “International Man of Mystery”: Espionage, Invasion Panics and the Fin de Siecle Urban Crisis in British Popular Fiction, 1890-1930′.

6.00-6.30. Questions.

6.30-6.45. All present to equip selves with prosecco/wine/water/juice/nibbles.

6.45 – 7.30. Celebrations and reflections on Ten Years of Reading 1900-1950

Part 1. Dr Erica Brown and Emeritus Professor Chris Hopkins: Achievements to Celebrate

Part 2. What Does Popular Fiction 1900-1950 Give Us? Opening statements by the four Sheffield Hallam Reading 1900-1950 Honorary Visiting Fellows (Dr Sylvia Dunkley, Dr Mary Grover, Val Hewson, Dr George Simmers), followed by contributions and conversation from all present.

Part 3. Anniversary Book Launch and Discussion – introduced by Dr George Simmers: The Good, the Bad and the Extraordinary: Exploring Popular Fiction 1900-1950

7.30 (or so). Close.

You can book your place via Eventbrite by clicking here.

Copies of the book will be on sale at a reduced price at the event. Otherwise, they can be purchased from Amazon or from all good booksellers.


  1. Roger
    Posted July 10, 2022 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    “Temptation for Trixie”, as you say, or “Torment for Trixy” as the cover says?
    I’m afraid it won’t be on the top of my list of books to buy under either title.

    • Posted July 10, 2022 at 4:55 am | Permalink

      Torment indeed. Now corrected. How on earth did I manage to get that wrong?
      Don’t judge a book by its cover. The lurid covers of the Janson were a selling point – Janson was the best-selling British author of the forties and fifties – but not quite representative of the actual novels. ‘Torment for Trixie’ is interesting as Janson’s reply to his critics, and\ to the magistrates who ordered his books to be confiscated. It tells the story of a young woman whose quite innocent novel is regarded as obscene. The suggestion is that any obscenity is in the mucky mind of the censor.

      • Roger
        Posted July 10, 2022 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        Heat, perhaps – I notice that – like me – you either get up early or go to bed late.
        Trixy, not Trixie, too, I presume.

  2. Posted July 10, 2022 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Trixie/Trixy depends actually. My own copy does not have that lurid cover, but a rather dull one (maybe to keep the watch committee at bay) and on that she’s Trixie.

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