Winsor, Kathleen: Forever Amber
(researched by Jennifer Kim)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Kathleen Winsor. Forever Amber. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1944. Copyright 1944 by Kathleen Winsor. Parallel first editions: Canada: Forever Amber. Toronto: The Macmillan Company of Canada, 1944. 972 pp.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding with a dust jacket.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
484 leaves, pp. [6] 3-16 [2] 19-134 [2] 137-328 [2] 331-481 [3] 485-664 [2] 667-854 [2] 857-972
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The first edition is neither edited nor introduced. There is a dedication to Lieutenant Robert John Herwig, U.S.M.C.R.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations. There are maps on the inside cover and end paper in the front and back of the book.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The readability of the text is excellent, with clear, large print and wide margins. The spacing between the lines is adequate and uniform throughout the book. There are no significant signs of wear and the book is in good condition. Page Size: 21.3 cm x 14.3 cm Text Size: 17.4 cm x 10.5 cm Type Size: 92R Type Style: Serif Typography: No type description noted on verso of title page or colophon. The four parts of the book are separated by a page on which the part number is spelled out in all capitals with roman numerals. Chapters are labelled in italicized capitals.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The book is printed on wove paper with an even, granulated texture. The book consists of the same paper stock throughout (with the exception of the endpapers). The paper is very thin and smooth and has been preserved very well without any foxing or staining. Paper size is uniform throughout the book.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is made of medium green cloth in an embossed linen grain. The spine is stamped in dark gilt. There are no illustrations on the binding. Endpapers are illustrated with maps. Transcription of spine: FOREVER | AMBER | [fleur de lys symbol] | Winsor | MACMILLAN
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: Forever Amber | By | KATHLEEN WINSOR | [publisherís crest] | New York | THE MACMILLAN COMPANY | 1944 Verso: Copyright, 1944, by | KATHLEEN WINSOR | All rights reserved ñ no part of this book | may be reproduced in any form without | permission in writing from the publisher, | except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief | passages in connection with a review written | for inclusion in magazine or newspaper. | First printing. | PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Information on manuscript holdings is not available at this time.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Call number: TAYLOR 1944. W55F6 There is a bookplate attached to the inside of the front cover bearing the signatures of Robert Taylor and Lillian Taylor indicating that this book was a donation from the Taylorsí bestsellers collection. There is a library sticker attached to the inside of the back cover bearing the call number information.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
The Macmillan Company also released the following edition of Forever Amber: Book Club edition. 746 p. 22 cm. 1944, 1970.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
There were at least 29 printings of the first edition.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Searches in WorldCat and RLIN produced the following editions from other publishers: Chicago Review Press, 2000, 1944. Macdonald, 1944, 1986. 800 p. 22 cm. Ballantine Books, 1993, 1971. 820 p. 22 cm. New American Library, 1971, 1944. 726 p. 18 cm. $3.95 (Signet book) New American Library, 1950. 735 p. 18 cm. Futura, 1991. 800 p. 20 cm. £4.99. Signet Books, 1958. 726 p. 18 cm. Buccaneer Books, 1944, 1971. 746 p. 22 cm. Warner Books, 1992. 800 p. 20 cm. Book-of-the-month Club, 1971, 1944. 820 p. 22 cm. TransWorld Publishers, 1957. 2 v. 17 cm. Clipper Books, 1946. 972 p. 21 cm. Editions for the Armed Services, 1945, 1944. 512 p. 12x17 cm. Penguin, 1990, 1944. 726 p. 18 cm. $5.50 (Signet book) Bantam, 1985. 852 p. 23 cm. Macdonald and Company, 1970, 1944. 800 p. 22 cm. International Collectors Library, 1970, 1944. 746 p. 22 cm.
6 Last date in print?
Forever Amber is still in print as of February 21, 2000.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
According to Hackettís 80 Year of Bestsellers, Forever Amber had sold 2,925,268 copies as of 1977. 1,652,837 of those copies were hard-bound.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
According to Hackettís 80 Years of Bestsellers, Forever Amber sold 868, 630 copies in 1945, its second year of publication.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
The Macmillan Company ran the following three-page advertisement in the October 16, 1944 issue of Publisherís Weekly. The advertisement began on the cover of the journal. The cover featured a photo of Kathleen Winsor and her signature. The second page had the following text: "Kathleen Winsor is the brilliant young author of a first novel in the tradition of the greatest bestsellers. Once in a while there appears a novel so tremendous in its sweep of events, so fine in characterization, and so dramatic in plot and setting that it is recognized at once as a book destined for immediate and lasting fame. Such is Forever Amber, a love story of immense driving force and a magnificent, all-inclusive picture of an era. Set in Restoration England, it depicts the extraordinary career of Amber St. Clare, illegitimate child of noble blood who, driven by overpowering ambition, mounts step by adventurous step from the lowest to the highest level of Restoration society. By the magic of her narrative power, Kathleen Winsor transports the reader back into those boisterous, profane, brilliant, and terrible days. Here, indeed, is THE novel of the fall season. $20,000 Initial Appropriation Forever Amber is a big novel, running to about a thousand pages. It is a discovery, a first book by a hitherto unknown author. It will be promoted by a full-scale Macmillan campaign, national in scope, throughout the fall and into next year. There will be full pages in The New York Times and The Herald Tribune Book Sections; maximum space upon publication in the papers of major cities throughout the country, and dominant space in other key markets; full pages in literary magazines; follow-up copy in all outstanding book media. For dealers, there will be a full-color poster in two sizes, postcards with dealersí imprints and other special display material." The third page featured a photo of the cover of the novelís dust jacket. It also indicated the publication date of October 16, 1944, and the price of $3.00. The photo had the caption "The story of a woman of superb courage and passion." Kathleen Winsorís photo was also seen in a number of newspapers, including the October 15, 1944 edition of The Chicago Tribune, that same dayís edition of The San Francisco Chronicle and the October 11, 1944 edition of New York World-Telegram. In response to the overwhelming demand for Forever Amber, the Macmillan Company ran the following unusual advertisement in the November 11, 1944 edition of Publisherís Weekly: "A Report to the Trade on Forever Amber" "Thousands of copies are being rushed to the bookstores throughout the country as rapidly as they come off the presses. Every effort is being made to speed our weekly production so that sufficient may reach you at once. But we canít accept any further orders for delivery this year. The copies which will be available between now and Christmas are being rationed among orders already on hand. We suggest that you place your firm order now for delivery in the new year. Mark it "O.K. FOR FUTURE SHIPMENT" ñ to assure it of immediate handling when stock becomes available in January. IMPORTANT: IN THE MONTHS TO COME WE SHALL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THIS BESTSELLER WITH ALL THE VIGOR AND ENTHUSIASM WITH WHICH WE INTRODUCED IT."
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
According to the October 21, 1944 edition of Publishersí Weekly, Kathleen Winsor went on national book tour that began on the same day of the release of Forever Amber on October 16, 1944. She began by appearing at the first day of the Boston Book Fair on October 16, and then proceeded to stop at Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, and finally ending up in Atlanta. Aside from her tour, Ms. Winsor also appeared on several radio programs to talk about her book, including Mary Margaret McBrideís WEAF program on November 2, 1944 and Imogene Wolcottís Mutual Network show "Whatís Your Idea?" that aired on the following day. Forever Amber also garnered considerable publicity from the scandal it created when it was released, which led to its being banned from the state of Massachusetts by the New England Watch and Ward Society on October 19, 1944.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Film: Forever Amber. Twentieth-Century Fox Film. Screenplay by Philip Dunne and Ring Lardner. Directed by Otto Preminger. Adapted by Jerome Cady. Executive Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck. Director of Photography: Leon Shamroy. Film Editor: Louis Loeffler. Music by David Raksin. Featuring Linda Darnell, Cornel Wilde, Glenn Langan, Richard Haydn, George Sanders, and Richard Greene. 140 min. 1947. Screenplays: Jerome Cady and Otto Preminger. Forever Amber: screenplay. First draft continuity. 193 leaves, 30 cm. Twentieth Century Fox Film, 1945. Jerome Cady and Otto Preminger. Forever Amber: revised screenplay. Temporary script. 170 leaves, 30 cm. Twentieth Century Fox Film, 1945. Philip Dunne and Ring Lardner. Forever Amber: screenplay. 153 leaves, 28 cm. Twentieth Century Fox Film, 1946. Philip Dunne. Forever Amber: screenplay. Final Script. 1 v. 169 leaves, 28 cm. 1945.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
There were multiple translations of this book, including the following: French: Ambre. Paris: Editions du Pavois, 1949. 812 p. Spanish: Por siempre Ambar. Barcelona: Ediciones ApÛstrofe, 1944. 933 p. 22 cm. "la ed." Por siempre Ambar. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Peuser, 1945. 695 p. 24 cm. Por siempre ¡mbar: novela. Barcelona: Editorial Planeta, 1965. 821 p. 22 cm. 3a ed. Por siempre Ambar. Barcelona: Editorial Planeta-Ediciones G.P., 1968. 2 v; 18 cm. Chinese: Hu pío. Tíai-pei: Hsin hsing shu ch¸, 1958. 2 v. 18 cm. Yung heng ti hu pío. Tíai-pei: Cheng wen shu ch¸, 1971. 644 p: ill. 19 cm. Hu pío. Tíai-pei: Y¸an ching chíu pan she, 1979. 2 v. 1230 p. 19 cm. Hu pío. Shang-hai: Lung men lien ho shu ch¸, 1948. 2 v. 19 cm. Fu-pío. Sheng-chou: Sheng-chou shih chieh shu ch¸, 1973. 184 p. Czechoslovakian: Ve*cn· Ambra. Praha: NakladatelstvÌ Erika, 1990. 817 p. 21 cm. Ve*cn· Ambra. Bratislava: Epocha, 1969. 2 v. (459 p, 465 p). 21 cm. Italian: Ambra. Milano: Club degli editori, 1973. 2 v. 21 cm. German: Amber: roman. Hamburg: J.P. Toth, 1950. 919 p. 22 cm. Other languages: Tvo ¥i` a naveki. Moskva: Panorama, 1994. 2 v. (511 pp, 474 p). 21 cm. Tvo ¥i` a naveki Ember. Sankt-Peterburg: Severo-Zapad, 1993. 541 p. 21 cm. Vechnotvo ¥i`a, Ambra: roman. Smolensk: Sm ¥i` adyní, 1993. 446 p: ill. 21 cm. Amber Roman. Stuttgart: Diane Verlag, 1946. 919 p. 22 cm. Amber: Roman. Zurich: Neue Diana Press, 1977. 708 p.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
Searches in Publishersí Weekly did not indicate that this work was serialized.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Searches in Publishersí Weekly and the National Union Catalog pre-1956 Imprints did not indicate that this novel had any sequels or prequels.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
American novelist Kathleen Winsor was born on October 16, 1919 in Olivia, Minnesota. She was the daughter of Harold Lee Winsor, who worked in real estate, and his wife Myrtle Belle Crowder Winsor. She entered the University of California and soon fell in love with Robert J. Herwig, a football player for the University of California. They married in 1936, two years before her 1938 graduation. After her graduation from the University of California, Winsor took a position as a receptionist at the Oakland Tribune in Oakland, California, in the hopes that it would help her in her dreams of becoming a writer. When this dream did not become a reality, she left the position to pursue her interests in other ways. A few years later, her husband was called overseas to fight in the Second World War. Herwig was wounded in the war and would eventually receive the Navy Cross and Silver Star for his bravery. While he was gone, Winsor began her research for Forever Amber, a process which would take five years. She had supposedly become interested in Restoration England during her college years when her husband had to write a paper on the death of Charles II for one of his courses. In December 1943, Winsor sent off what was possibly the only copy of her manuscript to MacMillan. Forever Amber, Winsor's first book, was released on October 16, 1944 and created an instant upheaval. The book was an instant success as thousands of people rushed to bookstores and MacMillan tried to keep up with the increasing demand. The publicity was aided by the scandal that the book created as it was immediately criticized for being obscene and offensive for its portrayal of such an impassioned and bawdy heroine. The book was even banned in Boston, though this did not stop readers from reading the popular novel. It was made into a film in 1947 by Twentieth Century Fox, who had paid an exorbitant amount for the rights. In her personal life, Winsor divorced her first husband (to whom the first edition of Forever Amber is dedicated) in 1946, marrying popular band leader Artie Shaw that same year. This marriage also ended a few years later, after which Winsor married lawyer Arnold Robert Krakower in 1949. This union dissolved in a 1953 divorce, after which Winsor married another lawyer, Paul A. Porter, her last husband who died in November 1975. Following Forever Amber, Winsor wrote many other books, none of which ever paralleled the success of her first novel. Star Money, published by Appeleton Century Crofts, came out in 1950. It was followed two years by The Lovers, by the same publisher. In 1957, Winsor switched to Putnam and published America, with Love. Changing her mind again, Winsor released Wanderers Eastward, Wanderers West in 1965, choosing Random House as her publisher. In 1979, she wrote Calais, which was published by Doubleday. Her last two books were both published by Crown: Jacintha was released in 1985 and Robert and Arabella, her final book, was published in 1986. Now 80 years old, Kathleen Winsor is still alive and currently resides on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
When Kathleen Winsor published Forever Amber on October 15, 1944, the amateur author's first novel became an immediate success amongst bookbuyers. It had already garnered considerable publicity from Macmillan's strong advertising campaign and became an even larger part of the public sphere by the scandal it created. Responses to the novel were numerous and varied in their assessment of the 972-page historical romance in which a poor country girl works her way up from a small English village into the bedchamber of King Charles II himself. The reviews centered mostly around the issues of sexuality, Winsor's skill as a writer, and the novel's entertainment value. As is to be expected with any romance novel whose heroine uses her feminine charms to seduce her way to the top, many of the reviewers focused on the latent sexuality of Winsor's novel. Despite Winsor's protest that "it wasn't such a daring book? I wrote only two sexy passages, and my publishers took them both out," a few reviewers expressed contempt for the highly sexualized tone of the book. Arthur Smith wrote that "this is the bawdiest novel I have read in years? the book is incredibly vulgar, no fare for squeamish souls." Catholic World likened both the characters and the events in the plot to "the stages of a prolonged sensual fantasy." It complained further that "bawdy incidents are ground out relentlessly without humor or variety" and takes its only comfort in knowing that "at least no one can ever go beyond this." One of the most obvious negative responses to the issues of sexuality in Forever Amber is seen in the fact that this book was tried in court and eventually banned from Boston, Massachusetts on grounds of obscenity. Other reviewers, however, were not overly shocked by the sensual undertones of the book. The New Yorker magazine review admits that "as a matter of fact, Forever Amber isn't nearly so bad as it might be." Paul Engle even goes so far as to concede that "in spite of myself, I found Amber's ambition rather attractive? this must have been the response of the men in her life, too." Most reviewers seemed to be at least surprised (though not necessarily disgusted) with the prevalence of sexual issues. Another aspect of this book that elicited mixed responses was the issue of Winsor's writing ability (or lack thereof). Some, such as Paul Engle, enthusiastically wrote that "the writing is quick, often witty, seldom obtrusive? there is much ingenuity in varying her method, and there is much excellent putting together of single scenes." Similarly, though Catholic World denounces the book's sexuality, it willingly conceded that "in spite of this the author can write; she uses suspense well, and her descriptions? are vivid and authentic." Other reviews of Winsor's skill as a writer were not so complimentary. Frances Woodward flatly states that "Kathleen Winsor writes without any literary distinction? not one of her characters has more than a surface personality? the coincidences which stud the book would strain the credulity of a ten-year-old child." William DuBois wrote that "her book is thrown together with a fine disregard for repetition of pattern" and describes her style as "turgid amateur writing." Arthur Smith adds that "it is sloppily written, diffuse? its dialogue is often stilted and amateurish." Interestingly, though many reviewers found the book to be either sexually offensive of poorly written, many of the reviewers readily admitted that the book did have some value as a means of entertainment. The Los Angeles Times review praise Forever Amber for its dramatic qualities, writing that "the amazing chronicle of this beauty's days unfolds amid scenes of such violence, color and drama that even a near-at-hand world war seems tame indeed? she seldom had a dull moment, and the reader of her tempestuous history will never have one." After tearing apart Winsor's poor writing skills, Frances Woodward writes that "just the same, a lot of people are going to have fun reading about Amber St. Clare? I did? quite simply, it entertains you in the most preposterous, flamboyant, unaesthetic way." William Du Bois agrees, describing Winsor as "a born storyteller? she knows how to keep that story moving ? even when, as one often suspects, she hasn't the slightest idea where it is taking her, or why." Thus, though opinions about the book's morality and inherent literary value were either mixed or somewhat skewed to the negative side, reviewers agreed that Winsor's first novel was an entertaining read that painted a colorful picture of Restoration England in all its immoral finery. Sources: 1. Engle, Paul. "Ambitious Beauty was ?Forever Amber." Chicago Sunday Tribune (15 October 1944): 9. 2. Smith, Arthur D. "Kathleen Winsor's Salty Dish." Saturday Review (14 October 1944). 3. Smith, Paul Jordan. "Amber Rivals Scarlett as Dainty Dynamite." Los Angeles Times (15 October 1944): 4. 4. The Catholic World. January 1945: 379. 5. Woodward, Frances. The Atlantic (December 1944): 37. 6. New Yorker. (21 October 1944): 90. 7. Du Bois, William. "Jumbo Romance of Restoration London." New York Times Book Review (15 October 1944): 7. 8. excerpts from www.galenet.com biography
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
When Kathleen Winsor published Forever Amber on October 15, 1944, the amateur author's first novel became an immediate success amongst bookbuyers. It had already garnered considerable publicity from Macmillan's strong advertising campaign and became an even larger part of the public sphere by the scandal it created. Responses to the novel were numerous and varied in their assessment of the 972-page historical romance in which a poor country girl works her way up from a small English village into the bedchamber of King Charles II himself. The reviews centered mostly around the issues of sexuality, Winsor's skill as a writer, and the novel's entertainment value. As is to be expected with any romance novel whose heroine uses her feminine charms to seduce her way to the top, many of the reviewers focused on the latent sexuality of Winsor's novel. Despite Winsor's protest that "it wasn't such a daring book? I wrote only two sexy passages, and my publishers took them both out," a few reviewers expressed contempt for the highly sexualized tone of the book. Arthur Smith wrote that "this is the bawdiest novel I have read in years? the book is incredibly vulgar, no fare for squeamish souls." Catholic World likened both the characters and the events in the plot to "the stages of a prolonged sensual fantasy." It complained further that "bawdy incidents are ground out relentlessly without humor or variety" and takes its only comfort in knowing that "at least no one can ever go beyond this." One of the most obvious negative responses to the issues of sexuality in Forever Amber is seen in the fact that this book was tried in court and eventually banned from Boston, Massachusetts on grounds of obscenity. Other reviewers, however, were not overly shocked by the sensual undertones of the book. The New Yorker magazine review admits that "as a matter of fact, Forever Amber isn't nearly so bad as it might be." Paul Engle even goes so far as to concede that "in spite of myself, I found Amber's ambition rather attractive? this must have been the response of the men in her life, too." Most reviewers seemed to be at least surprised (though not necessarily disgusted) with the prevalence of sexual issues. Another aspect of this book that elicited mixed responses was the issue of Winsor's writing ability (or lack thereof). Some, such as Paul Engle, enthusiastically wrote that "the writing is quick, often witty, seldom obtrusive? there is much ingenuity in varying her method, and there is much excellent putting together of single scenes." Similarly, though Catholic World denounces the book's sexuality, it willingly conceded that "in spite of this the author can write; she uses suspense well, and her descriptions? are vivid and authentic." Other reviews of Winsor's skill as a writer were not so complimentary. Frances Woodward flatly states that "Kathleen Winsor writes without any literary distinction? not one of her characters has more than a surface personality? the coincidences which stud the book would strain the credulity of a ten-year-old child." William DuBois wrote that "her book is thrown together with a fine disregard for repetition of pattern" and describes her style as "turgid amateur writing." Arthur Smith adds that "it is sloppily written, diffuse? its dialogue is often stilted and amateurish." Interestingly, though many reviewers found the book to be either sexually offensive of poorly written, many of the reviewers readily admitted that the book did have some value as a means of entertainment. The Los Angeles Times review praise Forever Amber for its dramatic qualities, writing that "the amazing chronicle of this beauty's days unfolds amid scenes of such violence, color and drama that even a near-at-hand world war seems tame indeed? she seldom had a dull moment, and the reader of her tempestuous history will never have one." After tearing apart Winsor's poor writing skills, Frances Woodward writes that "just the same, a lot of people are going to have fun reading about Amber St. Clare? I did? quite simply, it entertains you in the most preposterous, flamboyant, unaesthetic way." William Du Bois agrees, describing Winsor as "a born storyteller? she knows how to keep that story moving ? even when, as one often suspects, she hasn't the slightest idea where it is taking her, or why." Thus, though opinions about the book's morality and inherent literary value were either mixed or somewhat skewed to the negative side, reviewers agreed that Winsor's first novel was an entertaining read that painted a colorful picture of Restoration England in all its immoral finery. Sources: 1. Engle, Paul. "Ambitious Beauty was ?Forever Amber." Chicago Sunday Tribune (15 October 1944): 9. 2. Smith, Arthur D. "Kathleen Winsor's Salty Dish." Saturday Review (14 October 1944). 3. Smith, Paul Jordan. "Amber Rivals Scarlett as Dainty Dynamite." Los Angeles Times (15 October 1944): 4. 4. The Catholic World. January 1945: 379. 5. Woodward, Frances. The Atlantic (December 1944): 37. 6. New Yorker. (21 October 1944): 90. 7. Du Bois, William. "Jumbo Romance of Restoration London." New York Times Book Review (15 October 1944): 7. 8. excerpts from www.galenet.com biography
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
When Forever Amber was first released on October 16, 1944, it became an immediate bestseller, selling millions of copies as booksellers struggled to keep up with the staggering demand. Though it has since relapsed into relative obscurity (along with its author), Forever Amber was an extremely well known and frequently discussed book during the years in which it enjoyed popularity. In attempting to analyze its phenomenal success and understand what this book teaches us about bestsellers, this book is set apart from other bestsellers in that its popularity can be attributed to numerous factors. It is this unique combination of different ingredients that made Forever Amber such a powerful bestseller; each ingredient would probably not have been so effective without the presence of other factors. These factors fall into two larger classes. First, the story itself fits into many categories of established bestsellers, which would increase the likelihood of its success. As the story can be simultaneously labeled as a historical romance, the first bodice-ripper, as well as a novel with a morally questionable heroine, the book was already destined to be a bestseller. Second, there are considerable factors not related to the actual story that contributed to Forever Amber's success. Such factors included the scandal which the book created upon its publication, the time context surrounding its release, the role of the publisher, Macmillan Co. and the appeal of Kathleen Winsor herself. When taken apart and compared to other similar works, all of these factors combine to create a "recipe" of sort that is unique to this book and teaches us what types of books will succeed in the book-selling market. One of the most interesting aspects of best-selling novels is that they all seem to conform to a few categories which have already proven to be able to sell well. Forever Amber is no exception to this rule as it fits into a few different categories. In one of its advertisements in Publisher's Weekly, Macmillan identified the novel as "a novel in the tradition of the greatest bestsellers" and labeled it "a love story of immense driving force and a magnificent, all-inclusive picture of an era." This book is first and foremost a romance novel. As numerous examples have shown, romance has always been a popular category for best-selling novels since books began to be published for entertainment and artistic purposes. Though the literary world may not always give the author much credit for being a creator of true art, the general public has always been willing to buy and enjoy romance novels. Forever Amber is also a historical romance as the story unfolds in the larger context of 17th century Restoration England. The same advertisement in Publisher's Weekly that was previously mentioned credits with Winsor with the ability to "transport the reader back into those boisterous, profane, brilliant, and terrible days? by the magic of her narrative power." Winsor narrates such true events as the Restoration of King Charles II, the great plague and the fire which swept London, destroying much of the city. Historical romance has generally been successful as a genre, with authors such as George Barr McCutcheon preceding Winsor. In looking into the work of someone like McCutcheon, his series on the fictional Balkan kingdom of Graustark followed a specific plot formula for each volume of the four-part series that gave the series selling power. In her entry on McCutcheon's Graustark, Melissa Brall writes that later critics of Graustark identified seven components which were present in all true "Graustarkian novels." Of these seven components, at least five of them are definitely present in Forever Amber. Though McCutcheon's work is just one point of comparison, it demonstrates that Forever Amber was following the already established tradition of successful historical romance bestsellers. Her rich depiction of Restoration culture combined with her complicated romance plot ensured that her debut novel would be a huge success and teaches us that such a combination can be a powerful indicator of a book's potential selling capacities. Another way to categorize Winsor's novel centers around the characterization of the heroine of the novel, Amber St. Clare. Forever Amber was the first example of a bodice-ripper, a novel that prominently featured its heroine on the cover in a dress that was literally ripping her bodice open with a plot that often involved similar ripping of bodices. Interestingly, the heroine of this novel is not necessarily an admirable character in that her motives are generally self-centered and her means are far from being moral (in both the 17th century and 1940s sense of the term). The story is a sort of Horatio Alger paradigm with an immoral woman as its protagonist. Amber is an illegitimate orphan with aristocratic blood (though only the reader knows this) who learns to become a very successful whore in order to rise beyond her humble beginnings. Though Winsor never explicitly describes Amber's sexual activities, her sexuality is an essential part of both her character and the plot of the novel. Her character is not only immoral and self-absorbed but also immature and irrational, values that would not have been prized by the family-centered suburbia culture of 1940s America. Much of the criticism of the novel focused on the licentious aspects of her character as reviewers expressed such sentiments as "the book is incredibly vulgar" or described the book as "the stages of a prolonged sexual fantasy." Americans had yet to become accustomed to novels that centered around a woman's sexuality, and Winsor's novel was considered to be particularly scandalous. Despite such criticism, however, the fact that remains these types of novels sell. The sales figures of Forever Amber prove without a trace of doubt that sexuality did sell despite people's pretensions of being properly shocked by the sexual overtones of the novel. The importance of Amber's sexuality brings to the forefront the non-textual issue of the scandal that ensued when Forever Amber was published in 1944. Winsor's novel was met with an instant uproar of shock and outrage at the book's blatantly sexual overtones. The book was immediately banned from Boston stores on the grounds of being too obscene to be sold to the public. Such scandal only served to garner more publicity for the novel, encouraging people to go out and purchase the book that everyone was talking about. Macmillan most likely reveled in the controversy as sales figures shot up and they tried to keep up with the incessant demand. In looking over the history of various 20th century bestsellers, it is clear that scandal always sells well. Books such as Phillip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint (1969) or Penelope Ashe's Naked Came the Stranger (1969) shocked the public with their frank descriptions of sex and their morally horrifying protagonists. Yet both of these books sold extremely well. Critics or moral public figures profess to be outraged by the content of scandalous, but the truth remains that people rush out to buy the books that are causing the headlines. American culture in the 1940s was fairly homogeneous in their emphasis on ideals such as family values and national pride; it was novels like Forever Amber that gave people the opportunity to participate in something scandalous that disrupted the boredom of their everyday lives. It reinforces the already proven formula that scandal will always sell well. It is important to remember that the actual people who are actually buying (and sometimes reading) the books on bestseller lists play a significant role in determining which types of books will succeed. As previously mentioned, people generally like to read scandalous novels. The success of Forever Amber also reminds us that the potential of a novel is also often determined (at least partially) by the context in which it is published. When Forever Amber was published in October of 1944, America was heavily involved in the Second World War. People were beginning to tire of the war that was consuming every aspect of their daily lives without much prospect of any type of conclusion. Winsor's novel provided people with a chance to escape the harsh reality of everyday life and be swept away in a fantastically colorful world of the court life of 17th century Restoration England. In this sense, then, Forever Amber's success can be partially attributed to the fact that it was an escapist novel that whisked the reader away from the grim reality of living in the midst of a horrible war that was taking over the planet. In such contexts, escapist novels always seem to fare well as people have a need some sort of outlet. For example, Eleanor H. Porter's Pollyanna was published in 1913 and remained popular during 1914 on the eve of World War One. This heavily cheerful book makes no mention of the war that loomed on the horizon, choosing instead to talk about sunny little girls who play glad games to make everyone happy. It makes no direct mention of the impending war, but it does reflect the general sense of optimism that prevailed in pre-WWI American culture. Similarly, Forever Amber makes no mention of the atrocities of World War Two. However, one could deduce that people's willingness to buy and enjoy such a novel might reflect a general decrease in national morale because of the never-ending war; meeting such a character as Amber St. Clare could perhaps make people feel better about themselves and the mixed up world they were living in. In any case, the American public was happy to have the opportunity to displace themselves from the reality of a country at war into a land where a woman's beauty can determine her rise from nothingness to a concubine of the King himself. Aside from the public desire to escape from the grim reality of wartime life, an analysis of the success of Forever Amber must include a recognition of the role of the publisher and their importance in shaping the book's advertising campaign. Winsor sent her manuscript to Macmillan Co., a publishing firm that was large, well-established and relatively stable. Macmillan had the foresight to realize that Winsor's novel would sell well and consequently invested a lot of money in promoting it. In an advertisement in Publisher's Weekly, they indicated their "$20,000 Initial Appropriation" and promised a "full-scale Macmillan campaign, national in scope, throughout the fall and into next year? there will be full pages in The New York Times and The Herald Tribune Book Sections; maximum space upon publication in the paper of major cities throughout the country, and dominant space in other key markets?" Macmillan remained true to its promises, running numerous advertisements in a variety of periodicals and ensuring that people would learn the name Kathleen Winsor. As a big firm, they also had the connections to land Winsor the position as keynote speaker at a National Book Fair on the exact date on which her book was released. Winsor appeared on various radio shows to speak about her new novel and went on a national book-signing tour. Such a vigorous advertising campaign would not have been possible with a firm that was smaller and less well known than Macmillan, which would translate into less publicity, less sales and less fortune for Forever Amber. It is not just the plot or the author's name that will sell books as the publisher can play a huge role in determining a novel's success. A related topic in trying to learn from this book's success is Macmillan's choice to promote Winsor as a celebrity author. Most of the advertisements for Forever Amber included a fairly large picture of the attractive author and often bore her signature, despite the fact that this was Kathleen Winsor's first novel to ever be published and she was previously unheard of. Reviewers such as Paul Engle included comments in their criticisms such as "I trust it is not immodest of me to add that, after looking at the attractive picture of the author on the book jacket, my sentiment is not so much Forever Amber as it is Forever Kathleen Winsor!" (Engle 9). Rumors circulated that the beautiful Winsor herself might play Amber St. Clare in the upcoming film adaptation of her novel. Macmillan were thus forerunners in the now popular tradition of using the author's image as part of their book's promotion. Winsor's photo appears numerous times in various periodicals and is prominently displayed on the back cover of the first edition's dust jacket. Her name is also featured more elaborately than the title of her work on the book's front cover. In doing so, Winsor gained recognition as a celebrity figure instead of just a faceless author; periodicals were interested in more than just the novels she produced and wrote about things such as her fashion style or personal life. This tradition continues in today's book-selling trade as authors such as Jackie Collins and Danielle Steel have become familiar names to the American household because of the way in which their publishers promote their names. Macmillan showed remarkable foresight in seeing the potential allure of Winsor as a public icon and began the successful tradition of marketing authors as celebrity figures. In thus analyzing the success of Kathleen Winsor's debut novel, it is clear that Forever Amber was able to pinpoint and take advantage of several factors which would guarantee its success in bookstores. It used a unique recipe and enjoyed phenomenal popularity by using ingredients such as identifying popular genres of plot, using its controversial subject matter to its own benefit, taking advantage of the cultural context into which it was published, and being lucky enough to have a strong publisher. This book teaches us that despite skepticism from literary critics, novels written by beautiful authors about scandalous topics that are published in disheartened societies by powerhouse publishing houses will definitely sell in amazing proportions. All of these factors are strong indicators of potential success, but the fact that Forever Amber combined all of them into one novel allowed it to enjoy the prominent position it held at the top of the bestseller list and allowed Winsor to catapult from oblivion into a widely recognized public icon. Sources: 1. Engle, Paul. "Ambitious Beauty was 'Forever Amber." Chicago Sunday Tribune (15 October 1944): 9. 2. Brall, Melissa. Entry on Graustark, Assignment #5. 3. Kehoe, Robert. Entry on Truxton King. Assignment #5. 4. Publisher's Weekly. V. 146, no. 11. 9 September 1944. pp. 873-875. 5. Cymes, Alina. Entry on Naked Came the Stranger. Assignment #5. 6. Cooke, Kate. Entry on Pollyanna. Assignment #5.
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