Researchers have revealed a “naughty cut-and-paste” notebook of choice lines from Mills & Boon romance novels found in the company’s archives.
From “Out of the bedroom, like an avenging sitting hen,” to “Grant sat down on the edge of the bed, a man with a firm grip on himself,” the book compiles a collection of some of the steamier and more bizarre sentences.
The “well-worn hardback book” was found in the archive acquired by the University of Reading in 2011, which comprises close to 60 boxes of documents.
Judith Watts, a PhD researcher in the University of Reading's Mills & Boon archive and a published author of erotic fiction, said: “The publishers and editors took the material from the manuscripts rather mischievously. They have a wicked sense of humour. The notebook was clearly for their own amusement.” She added: “Few people will have seen it, it would be lovely if it was published.”
The editors called the book Boon Mots: Anthology of Artless Extracts. It has phrases cut out of submitted manuscripts including: “She looked up at him and bit into a sandwich before answering, that would him how much she was afraid of him, she thought.”
Another choice extracts included “Mrs White heaved at something under the blanket and produced a pineapple,” and “He looked like a two-egg man.”
The archive “offers a unique glimpse into the history and success of one of the most-loved and successful series of romantic fiction books”.
It charts the beginning of the company and the evolution of its language over the decades. It also includes letters between the publisher and its authors.
Ms Watts said: “Through decades of charming correspondence M&B authors and the publisher discuss the changing nature of the romantic novel, and the desire to satisfy readers' needs. Though the language of love evolved to reflect each era, the genre's role in providing pleasure and escape was constant.”
The archive came into the university’s possession after the company moved premises and they had no space. “It is a national treasure,” Ms Watts said.
“It does bring a lot of interest, but it also sheds a lot of light on social history and change,” she said. “It is kitsch, you’re not reading authors and titles, but historical novels or doctors and nurse stories. It has gone from strength to strength.”
This comes as it emerged the “Fifty Shades” effect had sent borrowing of erotic literature at the library soaring.
Destined to Feel by Indigo Bloome was the most popular title in 2012/13 according to Public Lending Right, borrowed 11,700 times. A year earlier the most popular erotic title Divine Misdemeanours by Laurell Hamilton was taken out just 1,500.