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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Simon James

For a change, here's a "mystery that has me mystified" that I might have solved. The 1978 novelisation of the Western Across the Great Divide from Arrow Books was published under the byline Simon James, which I suspect might be a pen-name. But for whom?

Well, the one clue in the book is the dedication "To Ysanne, Simon and Barnaby". Ysanne is an uncommon name and, I thought, worth a Google search... which immediately led me to someone's family tree in which we find Ysanne Harsent, Simon Harsent and Barnaby Harsent, the children of David Harsent and his wife Rosemary (nee Cummings).

Now, David Harsent is a writer of poetry and, under various names, mysteries and thrillers--most notably as Jack Curtis and, as David Lawrence, the Stella Mooney series. He was also the editorial director of Arrow Publishing in 1977-79 when the book was published, subsequently becoming editor-in-chief at Andre Deutsch until 1991.

All of which makes me think that "Simon James" was an early pen-name of David Harsent.

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