Thursday, January 06, 2011

Donald Henderson Clarke

Donald Henderson Clarke was an author of semi-hard-boiled novels and romances that were considered risqué back in the 1930s. Indeed, one—Female—was attacked by the Society for the Suppression of Vice and deemed obscene by the New York Court of Appeals in 1934 (having been earlier cleared of obscenity by a Manhattan court); his work was amongst 573 books banned from being imported into Canada in 1952.

Donald Henderson Clarke was born in South Hadley, Massachusetts, on 24 August 1887, the son of Louis H. Clarke, a general physician, and his wife Georgiana J. Clarke, who married aged 23 and 22 respectively. Donald grew up in Holyoke City, Hampden County, Massachusetts, the eldest of an expanding family which would, over the next few years, grow to include his siblings, Phillip, Elizabeth and Louis. Henderson entered Harvard in 1904, left in 1906 but was readmitted in 1909, only to leave again in 1910.

At the age of 26, and then working as a reporter, Clarke married Vita R. Clarke. They separated and Clarke married Gladys Webber in 1929.

Arnold Rothstein was the central figure in the "Black Sox" baseball scandal, in which he fixed the outcome of the 1919 World Series. He was murdered in 1928 and, a year later, Clarke published In the Reign of Rothstein, which was a best-seller. After this he turned to writing fiction, starting with the gangster novel Louis Beretti, a bootlegger and gunman in New York's underworld. Later novels such as Impatient Virgin, The Chastity of Gloria Boyd and Confidential kept him in the best-sellers lists.

Clarke's first encounter with Hollywood was when, in 1930-33, four of his novels were adapted as movies, including Louis Beretti (as Born Reckless), Millie, The Impatient Virgin (as The Impatient Maiden) and Female; two further novels (The Housekeeper's Daughter and Millie's Daughter) were filmed later. Clarke worked directly for Hollywood, co-writing The Women Men Marry (1937) and scripting The Ghost Ship (1943), based on a story by Leo Mittler.

Clarke wrote an autobiography, Man of the World. Recollections of an irreverent reporter, published in 1951. I really ought to see if I can dig out a copy from somewhere.

He retired to Florida and died at Delray Beach on 27 March 1958, aged 70.

As usual, our cover gallery concentrates on British editions (although the column header is an American paperback - Avon 575). I don't have copies of all of Henderson's books, so if anyone can fill some of the gaps, please let me know.

Impatient Virgin
John Long, (Sep 1940), 192pp, 1/-, [Merlin] 45th thou.
——, 70th thou.
——. 95th thou.
——, 121st thou.
Digit Books D236, 1959, 157pp

Louis Beretti
John Long, (Dec 1940), 192pp, 1/-, [Campbell]. 38th thou.
——, 63rd thou.

Young and Healthy
John Long, (Dec 1940), 192pp, 1/-, [Dolan]. 32nd thou.
——, (Mar 1941), 192pp, 1/-, 57th thou.
Beacon, nd (1950s), 1/6.

John Long, (Mar 1941), 192pp, 1/-. 57th thou.
Digit Books R355, (May 1960), 192pp, 2/6, [Maguire/Ace D-367].

Lady Ann
John Long, (Mar 1941), 192pp, 1/-, [Campbell]. 35th thou.
——, 60th thou.
——, 90th thou.

John Long, (Mar 1941), 192pp, 1/-. 32nd thou.

The Housekeeper's Daughter
Werner Laurie, n.d. (1949?), 160pp, 1/6. Cover by unknown

Digit Books D274, (Jul 1959), 160pp, 2/6, [anon].

A Lady Named Lou
Digit Books R305, (Dec 1959), 160pp, 2/6, [Maguire?].

Digit Books R371, (Jul 1960), 160pp, 2/6. Cover by George Ziel (Jerzy Zielezinski) (reprints Ace-D428)

The Chastity of Gloria Boyd
Digit Books R424, (1960), 155pp, 2/6.


Louis Beretti. New York, Vanguard Press, 1929; London, A. A. Knopf, 1930.
Millie. New York, Vanguard Press, 1930; London, John Long, 1932.
Impatient Virgin. New York, Vanguard Press, 1931; London, John Long, 1932.
Young and Healthy. New York, Vanguard Press, 1931; London, John Long, 1932; as The Regenerate Lover, Novel Library, n.d..
The Chastity of Gloria Boyd. New York, Vanguard Press, 1932; London, John Long, 1932.
John Bartel, Jr. New York, Vanguard Press, 1932; London, John Long, 1933.
Female. New York, Vanguard Press, 1933.
Alabam'. New York, Vanguard Press, 1934; London, T. Werner Laurie, 1938.
Lady Ann. New York, Vanguard Press, 1934; London, John Long, 1935.
Nina. New York, Vanguard Press, 1935.
Kelly. New York, Vanguard Press, 1935; London, John Long, 1935.
Regards to Broadway. New York, Vanguard Press, 1935; London, T. Werner Laurie, 1942.
Tawny. New York, Vanguard Press, 1936; London, T. Werner Laurie, 1938.
Confidential. New York, Vanguard Press, 1936; London, T. Werner Laurie, 1937.
That Mrs. Renney. New York, Vanguard Press, 1937.
The Housekeeper's Daughter. New York, Vanguard Press, 1938; London, T. Werner Laurie, 1939.
Millie's Daughter. New York, Vanguard Press, 1939; London, 1939.
Murderer's Holiday. New York, Vanguard Press, 1940; London, T. Werner Laurie, 1941.
A Lady Named Lou. New York, Vanguard Press, 1941.
Joe and Jennie. New York, Vanguard Press, 1949.

Threesome (contains Impatiant Virgin, Confidential, Millie's Daughter). Garden City, N.Y., Sun Dial Press, 1947.
Three More (contains Tawny, Louis Beretti, The Chastity of Gloria Boyd). Garden City, N.Y., Sun Dial Press, 1947.

In the Reign of Rothstein. New York, Vanguard Press, 1929.
The Autobiography of Frank Tarbeaux. New York, Vanguard Press, 1930.
Man of the World. Recollections of an irreverent reporter. New York, Vanguard Press, 1951.

Now I'll Tell by Carolyn Rothstein (Mrs. Arnold Rothstein), with an introduction by Donald Henderson Clarke. New York, Vanguard Press, 1934.


  1. Hi Steve, on a complete tangent from your post here, but do you or anyone else know any more about this Amazon listing?


  2. "The Chastity of Gloria Boyd"
    A distant relative, I don't know about? ;-)

  3. When I was 11 years old back in 1946 and lived in Malibu I got to know Donald Henderson Clarke and his aging but extremely beautiful wife. Donald was known for swimming far out in the ocean, like a seal some said. He lived at the foot of Topanga Canyon, and I, farther up the coast on Big Rock beach (20102 Pacific Coast Highway). I got to know Donald because, Rex Williams the actor and my soon to be stepfather lived just steps away from Donald on the beach. Donald was extremely kind to me. Once, on a trip up to Oxnard, with my mother and me, we had lunch. For desert, I ordered a chocolate Sunday. That finished, Donald, over the protests of my mother, asked me if I wanted another and so it went until I had the joy of eating six chocolate Sundays. Donald became a frequent visitor at our house on Big Rock Beach. On one occasion, I had a stomach ache and was near to throwing up. Donald, said he could help me and he gave concocted a glass of some kind of soda pop with baking soda in it and told me to drink the whole thing, which I did. Immediately, on finish the drink, I had what is called a projectile vomit which shot across our living room. And, guess what, I was cured thanks to Donald Henderson Clark, my great friend.



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