Natasha Oakley - British Romance Author

Writer of tug-at-the-heartstrings, feel-good romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mills & Boon

Michelle Monkou is the second person this week to ask me what's the difference, if any, between Harlequin and Mills & Boon - so here goes.

Mills & Boon began in 1908 here in the UK. It published all kinds of fiction, including P G Woodhouse and brought Leroux's 'The Phantom of the Opera' to the UK.

The First World War brought about a market for an escapist romance read, which was consolidated during the depression and then then Second World War. By the 1960s Mills & Boon were publishing eight romance series titles every month.

It's in the 1970s that the Mills & Boon story becomes entwined with that of Canada's Harlequin as the two companies merged.

These days Harlequin and Silhoutte are both divisions of Torstar, which is a Canadian publishing and media company.

What we have is branding.

Here in the UK Mills & Boon brand recognition is incredibly high, so that's what they use. In fact, 'Mills & Boon' is even in the Oxford English Dictionary as 'a (type of) popular romantic fiction'.

Following this???

In the UK our shelves have both Silhouette and Mills & Boon books on them. My books have the Mills & Boon logo (above). In Australia my books are marketed as Harlequin Mills & Boon and in North America I'm simply Harlequin (right).

In the lead up to the launch of the new Romance line my 'Millionaire Dad, Wife Needed' was released in NA as a Silhouette Romance.

Globally it gets even more complicated, but it's all the same parent company.

And then we have the lines. I write Mills & Boon 'Romance' in the UK, 'Harlequin Romance' in NA, Harlequin Mills & Boon 'Sweet' in Australia, but my latest release, 'The Tycoon's Princess Bride' is Mills & Boon 'Modern' in the UK, Harlequin Presents in NA and Harlequin Mills & Boon 'Sexy' in Australia.

Clear as mud, isn't it. :)

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  • At 2:24 pm, Blogger Michelle Styles said…

    I have read a history of Harlequin. It was a husband and wife publishing company that started in the 1920s in Canada.Their romance could be a classic romance novel.
    They orginally published all sorts of pulp fiction. Eventually in the early 1950s (possibly late 40s) they started buying in romance from MIlls and Boon and republishing in the North American market.
    Eventually Harlequin bought out M&B, but because M&B was such an iconic name, it was kept.
    Does this help?

  • At 1:54 pm, Blogger Michelle Monkou said…

    Thanks for the clarification. It helps. I often wondered why the authors identified themselves from these varying "camps," now it's clear.


  • At 6:55 pm, Blogger Natasha said…

    I also means you'll be gnashing your teeth with the rest of us, Michelle! lol


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