I went into a thrift store a couple of weeks ago and I spotted a book that looked to be in excellent condition for its vintage. An author I had never heard of. A nice bright dust jacket, which I quickly peeled off to have a look at the book itself. Fine! Then to the title page, a British imprint by a publisher I had never heard of, Robert Hale Limited, London. First published in Great Britain 1966. Then I looked at the first free endpaper – Holy Smokes! A wonderful presentation inscription to the person who helped the author with the research on this book. What a beautiful association copy. I thought it was worth the $1 I had to pay for it. The biggest surprise was yet to come.
Got home and googled this author. He was not British, at all, he was from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. And he is considered to be the most prolific Canadian author – ever! And he did not start to publish books until he was almost 40. He wrote more than 300 novels in a variety of sectors, under some twenty pseudonyms. And none of these names rang a bell. This was my introduction to William Edward Daniel "W. E. D. Ross" (November 16, 1912 - November 1, 1995). Please click on his name link in order to be taken to his Wikipedia page, to read about him and especially to view the long, long list of titles. Then come back.
What an incredible listing of books. Now, being prolific is one thing but how good was his output? It was noted that he was a best-selling author; and obviously outside of Canada, at least in the U.K. And if your books don’t sell, publishers don’t publish. I would ask any reader of this Musing to drop me a note if you recognize the author and if you have read any of his hundreds of books and what you thought of his writing.
I poked around on Abebooks and there weren’t a lot of books by him listed, although I did not search all of his nom de plumes. And most of the books that were listed were ex-public library books. That could have been one of his and his publishers’ target markets.
It would be an interesting venture to try and build a collection of all of his works. I think it would be difficult if not impossible. It would not be a question of high prices; I think prices for his works would be low. Which would be a problem for the collector because a lot of dealers, myself included, do not put low priced books on the internet. (For those that do, I cannot understand how they make money doing so.) I would think that many of his books would have been published only in paperbacks. It may well be that some of his titles have disappeared completely.
So, here are some photos of the book that led me to a rather intriguing and forgotten (?) Canadian