Publishers of Savery's Adult Novels CWS

George G. Harrap, Alfred H. King, and J. M. Dent

In classifying these as "publisher's of Savery's adult novels," I am over-simplifying. Green Emeralds for the King, below, is enjoyed by adults, but it was written for older children, while Blue Fields, published by Victory Press, could well be classified as an adult novel.

Cover illustrations of editions by the first publisher are located to the left and are approximately to scale. Paperback editions and translations are located to the right and have been reduced by ten percent.


Forbidden Doors. London : Bombay : Sydney: George G. Harrap & Co., 39-41 Parker St., Kingsway, London, W.C.2, 1929. 283 pp. Printed in Great Britain by J. and J. Gray, Edinburgh. Revised and republished, 1930, as Tenthragon, below.

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Forbidden Doors is a book about a child, but not a children's book. "Not quite seven" Patric is taken from a foster home to live with his stern cousin Brendon Tenthragon, who attempts to be kind, but is unused to children. Thragoness, Brendon's gothic residence, is divided into halves by the title's forbidden doors through which Patric passes into Other Thragoness where he is psychologically abused by Brendon's brother Hugh, himself a physical and emotional cripple. Both THE TIMES of London and the NEW YORK TIMES agreed that the author had bitten off more than she could chew. Nevertheless, there are harbingers of her later books in the character development and in her use of twins (and triplets), a tendency that recurred throughout Savery's career. The PUNCH review of Jan. 22, 1930, ended on a hopeful note:
Her characters...are live things of their own particular world--the no man's land that lies between Fiction and Fairy Story. Forbidden Doors interested me and nearly made my flesh creep.
It was her first book. She began to write it in February of 1926, it was accepted in January of 1929, and it was published the same year. A children's book, Nicolas Chooses White May, was accepted earlier, in February of 1928, but Nicolas was not published until 1930.

The book is very rare, both on library shelves and in the used book market.

Green Emeralds for the King: A Story of the Civil War. Illus. by T. H. Robinson. London : Toronto : Bombay : Sydney: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 182 High Holburn, London, W.C.1, 1938. 288 pp. Printed by Morrison & Gibb, Ltd., London and Edinburgh. Revised and republished in 1945 as Emeralds for the King.

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Green Emeralds was published in England on the eve of World War Two, the warehouse was bombed, and the book's distribution was limited. There are useful details, especially in Chapter 17, that were omitted in the amended American edition. The British edition is the preferred one, but you will be lucky to find a copy even at a premium price. For that reason, the plot synopsis will be found under Emeralds for the King.

On February 9, 1940, Harrap declined to publish Savery's next novel, Pippin's House, in part because of wartime difficulties, but adding...
I will be quite frank and say that we like your books and think them deserving of far greater success than we have achieved with them, but facts are facts, and we simply did not manage to get them across.
Prior to the publication of Emma, below, in 1980, this novel was Savery's most widely distributed story, but it was the American edition that was successful. Truly, Harrap did not manage to get it across.


Tenthragon (American edition of Forbidden Doors, above). New York: Alfred H. King, 8 W. 40th St., New York, 1930. 314 pp. Printed by J. J. Little and Ives Co.

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I have two copies of Tenthragon, identical except that the cover of one is orange, while the other is a pale yellowish brown with a tinge of green. Neither has a dust jacket, but both carry the 1930 date. A copy of the original book with the author's god-daughter has the orange cover.

The first two thirds of Tenthragon do not differ much from those of Forbidden Doors save for the substitution of American spelling for British. An attempt, perhaps, to meet some of the criticism of Forbidden Doors has been made in the final chapters by clarifying some scenes and rearranging their sequence, but we remain unsatisfied with poor Patric's future, which is, if somewhat clearer, less promising than it was before.

A letter to Savery from her sister Christine indicates that Harrap insisted on shortening Forbidden Doors. They may have overdone it since the last six pages of the book are blank. The cuts were restored in Tenthragon, and I'll allow a 1939 letter from Savery to have the last word:
...I don't like lending "Forbidden Doors" when the other is so much better.


Emma by Charlotte Brontë and Another Lady. London : Melbourne : Toronto: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., Aldine House, 33 Welbeck Street, London W1M 8LX. January 1980. 202 pp. Published in the United States, New York: Everest House, 33 W 60th St., New York, NY 10023. 1980. 202 pp. Readers Union (book club) edition, April 1980. Reprinted, May 1982, as paperback, London: Coronet Books, Hodder and Stoughton Paperbacks, 47 Bedford Sq., London. 240 pp. Reprinted, August 1983, as paperback, Toronto : New York : London : Sydney: Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10103. 215 pp. Translated, 1981, into Dutch as Emma by Charlotte Brontë en een onbekende. Naarden: Strengholt's Boeken, Hofstede Oud-Bussem -- Flevolaan -- Naarden. 237 pp. Omslag: Chris de Goede. Translated, 1982, into Spanish by Esther Donato as Emma by Charlotte Brontë y Otra Dama. Barcelona : Mundo Actual de Ediciones. 256 pp. Reprinted, 1983, as Edibolsillo Paperback. Barcelona : Ediciones Grijalbo, S.A., Diu i Mata, 98, Barcelona - 29. 312 pp. Translated, 2001, into Russian as Еmma by Sharlotta Bronte and Another Lady. Moscow: AST. 443 pp.

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Of 198 pages of text in the first edition, the first 19 are by Brontë and the rest are by Savery. Unlike John Coates' lively completion of Jane Austen's The Watsons, Savery continued Emma without altering the original fragment. Book cover The Everest edition was published in the same year as the Dent, but sufficiently thereafter for the Everest dust jacket to include the praise of five English reviewers. Emma remained in print for over 20 years, and the English edition is in many libraries and still available on the used book market if one searches using 'Another Lady' as the author's name. The Dent and Everest editions have a different appearance, but exactly the same text. The Dutch translation adheres closely to the original, and, in so far as my poor knowledge of Spanish will allow me to judge, so does the Barcelona edition. Several West Coast libraries in the United States have the Russian translation, a textbook with cheap paper inside a handsome cover. Of the 443 pages in the Russian edition, 233 pages are devoted to Emma, while the remaining pages contain critical material concerning the Brontë sisters. It is curious that Emma was selected for this textbook, since so much of the novel was written by Savery, whom the Russian editors identify by name.

Book cover Book coverBook cover Mrs. Chalfont, who writes the story, is persuaded by a friend, Mr. Ellin, to take in a small girl who was left by her father at a village ladies' school and expelled by them when no fees were paid and mail to the father was returned. Here the Brontë fragment ends. The girl will tell nothing about her past, although she lets slip that her name is Martina, rather than Matilda, the name under which she was registered. She hates and fears someone named Emma, worrying Mrs. Chalfont, who has a stepdaughter of that name whom she has never seen, but who has a bad reputation. In a fine nineteenth century pastiche, Mrs. Chalfont relates how she was married at age seventeen to a man twenty-five years her senior, and how, on that wedding day, Emma removed herself and her three siblings from the ancestral mansion. Mr. Chalfont supports his children in their wish not to meet their young stepmother. It is not a happy marriage. One child, a daughter, is taken away to be buried following a nearly fatal pregnancy, and when Mr. Chalfont dies, his wife and children are still strangers. It is a shorter book than Brontë would have made it, but there are incidents aplenty and vividly drawn characters. Book cover

Although this is an adult novel and not intended for a Sunday School audience, Savery's Christianity is still apparent, from the poems that inspire and support Mrs. Chalfont to the conclusion that sees her marrying again with her youngest stepson, now a pastor, presiding.

Savery was eighty-two years old when Emma was published to critical approval, a fitting end to her career as a successful author. According to a letter written at the time by her sister, Christine, the publisher accepted the manuscript by "return of post." Savery was to compose one more original book, Haggiston Hall, which was not written for publication.

NOTE: Fifty copies of an adult novel, The Memoirs of Jack Chelwood, were privately published in 2004.

This web site © 2010-14 by Eric Schonblom. The unpublished works of Constance Savery are reproduced with the permission of her literary heir and copyright owner, J.D. Hummerstone. The covers are reproduced in low resolution to respect the copyrights of their respective artists and publishers.