Archive for the Book Category

Blonde on a Broomstick, 1966

Posted in 60s, Book, Painting, Photograph on 29 August 2008 by redwitch1

Who could walk past Blonde on a Broomstick and not stop to have a look at this cover? Or to read the shout on the front: “Rick Holman is taken for a ride by a covey of curvaceous witches … and flies straight into MURDER!” Did you say “curvaceous witches”? Give me that book!

It’s a heady brew.
It’s spiked with plenty of Black (and blonde and brunette) Magic. And whose in the soup?

RICK HOLMAN, of course.
Stirring things up are four wild witches:
Sultry songstress Julie—she’s said No to the biggest natural yes-deal of her life …
Sex-kitten Sally—self-appointed private eye whose lovely eyes are a little too private …
Dark, dazzling Stella—mistress of the Shades (from Hell to bedroom), queen bee of a hair-raising hive …
Wacky Barbara—demon-possessed and starving—for seduction.
The problem is: Which witch is witch? Rick had better find the answer fast. He’s up to his ears in it. Its a murky case of sink or swim in a witch’s cauldron.

So which witch are you? I’m rooting for “mistress of the Shades” myself. (See! Read a dozen lines of this sort of copy and that is what happens: you start writing lame puns. I knew it was bad for me.)

Anyway, this will be my last Carter Brown post for a little while: I have so many other pulps to do posts on! (As Toni has reminded me with her brilliant post on Cark Dekker (the little-known half-brother of Carl Dekker). (Check out the cover here.)

But to details. The above cover and detail are from Blonde on a Broomstick (Sydney: Horwitz, 1966). The two covers (and details) below are from: (New York: New American Library, [January] 1966) and (Sydney: Horwitz, 1972).

PS: I have to mention that this story starts with a quote, a motto if you will:

So choosing solitary to abide,
Far from all neighbours, that her devilish deeds,
And hellish arts from people she might hide,
And hurt far off, unknown, whomsoever she envied.
(Edmund Spencer, The Faerie Queene)

The quote is from Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene (1590), Book 3, Canto 7, stanza 6 (etext [of the 1596 edition] here):

There in a gloomy hollow glen she found
A little cottage, built of stickes and reedes
In homely wize, and wald with sods around,
In which a witch did dwell, in loathly weedes,
And wilfull want, all carelesse of her needes;
So choosing solitarie to abide,
Far from all neighbours, that her deuilish deedes
And hellish arts from people she might hide,
And hurt far off vnknowne, whom euer she envide.

I’d be surprised if Allan Geoffrey Yates (aka Carter Brown) found the quote while reading Spencer: more likely he found it in a guide to witchcraft, or possibly in another book, like Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor (1819), where it appears at the start of Chapter 31. Even still, it is a surprising thing to see in a book that starts: “We sat—Paul Renek and I—on the open deck of the beach house and watched the blonde in a see-through bikini cavorting on the sand.”

The Coven, 1971

Posted in 70s, Book, SFW on 23 August 2008 by redwitch1

Rebecca is my new hero. Not only is she a “mysteriously archetypal enchanted storybook witch-princess” (which, of course, we all want to be), but she has sent me the link to a the The University of Queensland’s Carter Brown Book Covers page.

Once the UQ page loads you will see 496 (!!) different Carter Brown book covers, each of which can be examined in considerable detail. Click on a thumbnail and you get a 500 pixel wide image, click again and you get a magnifying glass tool that allows you to get even more detail, but only of part of the picture.

Once I looked at this site I wondered whether there was any point continuing with my Carter Brown posts, but four things occurred to me. First, I collect the witchy Carter Brown books, no matter how hard they are to identify (see my last post for details), and so my posts are about my collection rather than just providing images of Carter Brown covers, cool as they are. Second, the large images I provide—which are linked to the smaller images below—are 1000 pixels wide, twice the size of the largest you can download on the UQ site. (And the detail pictures are even larger). Third, I also provide information on the relationship between the titles, not just images. And fourth, I do acually have a few covers not on the UQ site. (Ner ne’ner ne’ner ne’ner).

On the third point, Toni Johnson-Woods (the expert on all things Carter Brown-ish) has asked me about my sources for the overseas titles. I am sure she will be dissapointed to hear that it is a combination of Austlit, Graeme Flanagan’s Australian Vintage Paperback Guide (1994) and lots of little bits picked up off second-hand booksellers and eBay folks over the years.

But now to The Coven. The UQ site has two covers: below are three (once again with the gloating and the Ner ne’ner ne’ner ne’ner!). The first US edition (New York: New American Library, April 1971), the first Australian edition (Sydney: Horwitz, November 1971), and an American reprint (New American Library, October 1978). The blurb on the back reads


The nude girl in the photograph was beautiful, young, and rich—and a witch. And RICK HOLMAN had to find her. It looked easy—until a beautiful corpse washed in with the tide and her throat slashed.

And until he met the Coven!

They were six young psychos who liked their sex mixed with dope and the Devil. But one was a rapist with a kinky taste for ritual murder!

The shout on the first page is even “better”:


Her body, bathed in the soft light from the bedside lamp, was breathtakingly beautiful. My eyes absorbed every detail with a kind of stunned disbelief and I opened my mouth to say something, but all I got was a croaking sound from deep inside my throat. She sat down on the edge of the bed and wrapped her arms tight around herself, giving support to the deep swell of magnificent breasts that were in no need of support.

“I’ll go down onto my knees and beg,” she said in a tremulous voice. “If you insist …”

Apparently, in 1971 the “magnificent breasts” of the vulnerable witch could only be included on the cover of the New York edition if the they were not really real. In Australia, we got a photograph. I am not sure who got the better deal: the painting used on the New York edition is pretty damn cool (and for more on paintings vs photographs on paperback cover art see here and here). By 1976 the American public was able to cope with draped breasts.

Walk Softly, Witch, 1959

Posted in 50s, 60s, Book, Painting on 8 August 2008 by redwitch1

It has been almost two years since I did my first post on Carter Brown paperback and pulps with their wonderful witchy covers. You could be forgiven for thinking that I had given these books no more attention since then, but you’d be wrong. It is just that, being a bit of a completest I have been holding off doing any more posts on the Brown novels until I had copies of all of them. I still don’t, but I thought it was high-time for another post. And this one should make it clear why I have still not collected them all.

Here we have Walk Softly, Witch (Sydney: Horwitz, 1959)

Once I had this in my hands I thought, “Brilliant. Now the hardest part is over. I have the first edition!” As it happens, I was wrong. Or, at least, not wrong, but not completely right either. You see, Walk Softly, Witch is actually a reworking of an earlier novel called Eve—It’s Extortion! (Sydney: Horwitz, 1957), so perhaps Eve is the first edition?

And so now I have a problem, do I buy a copy of Eve and include it in my post? Since almost none of the Carter Brown covers feature recognisable witches (you know, hats and brooms), then it is an open question as to whether the cover-art on Eve—or on Walk Softly, Witch—is really a witch after all. I would have to read both novels and try to establish if the buxum blonde on the cover of the latter is really a witch or not.

So, what of later editions? I am glad you asked. Walk Softly, Witch was reissued by Horwitz, in April of 1960 under the title Terror Comes Creeping. Why the change in title? Nobody knows, it could have been an accident, except they did it again in December of the same year. Do I have copies of these yet. Err, no. Because I would have had to know that Terror Comes Creeping is, actually, Walk Softly, Witch, which I didn’t until recently.

So, were there any other editions? I am glad you asked. In the US and in Canada this book was published under the title The Victim in 1959. Why? No idea. Do I have any copies yet, No.

So, were there any later editions actually called Walk Softly, Witch? I am glad you asked. Yes, there are two, as you can see below. Horwitz published a book under this title in 1964 and it was reprinted in London by Four Square/New English Library in 1965. Here they are

The problem is, these are not the same books as Walk Softly, Witch (the change from blonde to brunette gives the game away). The real one starts “This is, you should forgive the expression, Lieutenant Wheeler” and this one starts “She crossed her legs …” This 1965 text is actually So Deadly, Sinner which was first published in 1959.

Confused? Let me recap: Walk Softly, Witch (1959), based on Eve—It’s Extortion! (1957), is reissued as The Victim (1959) and Terror Comes Creeping (1960). An altogether different work, So Deadly, Sinner! (1959) was reissued as Walk Softly, Witch (1964).

Have I finished yet. Err, no. There are translations to consider, lots of them. Walk Softly, Witch (which one? Don’t get cheeky! I have no idea) was translated into Danish (Mordet pa Hamlet 1965, 1974), Dutch (Rendez-vous Met Hamlet 1962), Estonian (Sammu kergelt, kaunis noid 1998), Finnish (Paukkurauta soi 1961), French (Piece a tiroirs 1959, 1972), German (Hexe auf leisen Sohlen 1962, 1965, 1979), Hebrew (Hazmana lerezah 1967), Japanese (Shinayakani Aruku Majo 1962), Norwegian (Indigo Betyr Fare 1961, 1964, 1979), Russian (Beglec iz psihuski 1993, Guljaj, ved’ma 1991) and Spanish (Despacio Bruja 1961).

The Victim (1959), which you will recall is simply a reissue of Walk Softly, Witch, was translated into Danish (Offeret 1961), Dutch (Weduwe Zonder Tranen 1962), Finnish (Miljoonat Pelissa 1963), French (Envoyez la soudure 1959; 1970; 1981), German (Das Kostbare Opfer 1961; 1961; 1975), Japanese (1965), Norwegian (Doden gar uten korsett 1960), Swedish (Fara For Livet 1961) and Spanish (La Victima) 1961; 1973).

No doubt there are more. How many of these do I have. Um, none. You see, there are quite a few Carter Browns titles to collect without worrying about reissues, changed titles, earlier titles and translations, it’d be over a hundred volumes. These titles are: Widow Bewitched (1958), The Sinners (1963), Blonde on a Broomstick (1966), House of Sorcery (1967), The Witches (1968) and The Coven (1971). So now you know why it has been two years: collecting all of these Carter Brown books would be a life’s work. But I’ll keep at it and I’ll do another post soon(ish).

Maxine Sanders, Dawn Ritual, 1969

Posted in 60s, Book, Magazine, Photograph, Real Witch, SFW on 18 April 2008 by redwitch1

I used the colour photos from the following sequence in my Sexy Witch Video No.2. A particularly astute YouTube viewer asked to see more of them, and here they are!

The ritual that is the subject of this shoot obviously took place in winter, “on one of the high and private ridges of the Yorkshire Moors” (as a 1971 article tells us). On 16 February 1969 one picture from this sequence was printed in News of the World and I think it is likely that the ritual occurred shortly before that date.

Although the sixteen pictures below are taken from eight different publications (listed at the end of this post), and were reprinted in many more, few details about the event have emerged. Consequently, the pictures will have to tell their own story!

Man, Myth and Magic, No.3 (1970). p. 74; Man, Myth and Magic, No.11 (1970), front cover; Man, Myth and Magic (1970-71), pp. 1868b, 1870; Dennis Wheatley, The Devil and All His Works (1971; repr. London: Peerage Books, 1983), p. 233; Witchcraft 1.10 (January 1973), pp.36–37; Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology (London: Octopus, 1974), pp. 8–9, 104–5, 109; Encyclopedia of Magic and Superstition (London: Octopus, 1974), pp. 10, 19; Peter Haining, The Illustrated History of Witchcraft (London: New English Library, 1975), p. 15; Francis X. King, Magic: The Western Tradition (London: Thames and Hudson, 1975), plate 39; Susan Greenwood, Encyclopedia of Magic and Witchcraft (London: Lorenz Books, 2001), p. 202.

Fire Child by Maxine Sanders, 2008

Posted in 2000+, Book, Real Witch, SFW on 25 January 2008 by redwitch1

Maxine Sanders (née Arline Maxine Morris) has finally written an autobiography: Fire Child: The Life & Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen’ (Oxford: Mandrake, 2008).

I say finally because both of the two previous books on Maxine (below) were written by others: Maxine the Witch Queen (London: Star Book, 1976) was ghost-written by the journalist Wally Clapham (as we find out on 259 of Fire Child) and The Ecstatic Mother, Maxine Sanders, Witch Queen (London: Bachman & Turner, 1977) was written by Richard Deutch.

Generations of Wiccans, Witches and historians of The Craft will be grateful to Sanders for overcoming her aversion to writing, but Fire Child is a difficult book to read, not least because it is under-edited, disjointed and unnecessarily obtuse and confusing (as I discuss below).

Sanders bravely recounts physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father (15, 18, 21, 27, 29) followed by emotional abuse at the hands of Alex, ‘King of the Witches’ (168, 239). Alex betrayed Sanders by sleeping with other men (120, 138, 169; engaging in a week-long bacchanal while she, alone, gave birth to their second child), used her as a prop to his ego (92), his ambition (68) and his finances, relying on her to work (124) and burdening her with substantial debts (171, 208). His meglo- and ego-mania (159) reached absurd heights and, once out of the spotlight, his desire to regain it undermined much of the little good his showmanship has achieved (239, 252, 261; he also deteriorated as a teacher: 173, 241). Future biographers may speculate about why Alex “liked being married to an attractive woman”, whom he “placed on a pedestal”, keeping her “apart and untouchable” (251), when his “preference was for men” (242) and why Sanders endured so many years married to a man with many similarities to her father — whom she long wished dead (both being abusive, yet charismatic, men who were manipulative and unscrupulous spendthrifts and philanders).

Sceptically- and empirically-minded readers will wonder at the extent of Sanders’ delusions about supernatural events, which are presented as matters of fact (levitation and destruction of inanimate objects, materialisation of spirits, use of telepathy and astral-travel to keep an eye on each other etc), as well as the claims made for the extent of Alex’s authority in Wicca circles before leaving Manchester (66, “eight full covens and several smaller ones” in addition to his “teaching” coven in 1963). Personally, I am interested in the historical details, who met whom (real names, in full), when and where, what happened etc. These sort of details are provided sparingly and inconsistently.

For example: Chapter 9 mentions Alex’s famous ‘Grandmother Story’. Sanders states that “Alex’s showmanship made much of it”, cryptically described as “probably more colourful and yet less shocking than Alex described”; his telling of it being “a means to an end” (101). The reader is left wondering how being sexually initiated by one’s grandmother can be “more colourful and yet less shocking”, and what “end” could have been served by telling this story. Sanders also spends pages talking about her “new husband” circuitously, leaving the reader guessing who on earth she is talking about, before finally naming him (290). Why not name him from the outset?

Doubts remain about the dates, too. Sanders says she was born on 30 December, and that she was conceived in the spring of 1946 (11). That is, she was conceived in April 1946 and was born 30 December 1946. This means she had only just turned nineteen on 15 January 1966 when (nude) photographs of her were first published (80; see my post on these photos). The publication of these photos prompted an appalling run-in with the police. In the course of which she says told the police that “no-one had taken my virginity, least of all Alex and at seventeen I was in any case old enough” (82). Even if Sanders was “seventeen” when the full moon rite took place, and that this had occurred before her previous birthday only a few weeks earlier, the dates must still be out by a year (meaning she was born in 1947, not 1946).

(In fact, I have long-suspected that the dates are even further out: that Sanders was born in December 1948, not 1946, turned seventeen in December 1965, and that she has been lying about her age since January 1966 in order to protect Alex and herself. It seems we will only learn the truth when Sanders’ birth certificate becomes available, in about fifty years!)

Nevertheless, we learn a great deal about “Maxine Sanders”, her family, Alex, his family and some of the central figure and events in Sanders’ life. We also discover, indirectly, many details that will be of interest to different readers (such as her impatience with vegetarians, who “cannot master their sentimentality” 276), of her boredom with her role as priestess (112, 142), her struggles as a mother (242), lover and teacher. Though many of the stories are a little disconnected and cryptic, any reader interested in the rise of Wicca will gain much from reading Fire Child.

(And if the very high prices of second-hand copies of Maxine the Witch Queen and The Ecstatic Mother are any guide to the future demand for this book: buy it now, while you can still afford it!)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 272 other followers