Saturday, October 30, 2021

Alfred Hitchcock Anthologies

Woe be to the Alfred Hitchcock anthology completist.

Genius director and garbage can of a human being Alfred Hitchcock's name has been attached to over a hundred books and hundreds of digest magazine installments with thousands of stories of mystery and suspense. With a possible exception of the very beginning, he neither selected the stories nor wrote the introductions in his name.

A better history is at Casual Debris. A 95% accurate and complete bibliography at Casual Debris and The Hitchcock Zone. A cover gallery and an index for the magazine is at Galactic Central.

After a handful of scattered titles in the 40s, things picked up after the beginning of the 1955 TV series. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine began in 1956, and a book series followed in 1957. I don't think they were formally connected, but they had some synergy, with the books reprinting and the TV show filming some magazine stories.

Most of the books came out in hardback and dividing in half for two paperbacks. Some of the paperback titles had a first installment sharing the hardback title, such as Stories for Late at Night, with the second half as More Stories for Late at Night, or with a different title such as Skeleton Crew. So you get the same book with multiple titles, and multiple books with the same title. The hardbacks during this era were mostly from Random House and the paperbacks from Dell, but there are exceptions.

On top of that, there were different editions with different art, and on rare occasions slightly different story lineups, or abridged versions with a couple stories shaved off.

There was a series aimed at children, with the same caliber of stories, and a British series edited by Peter Haining, possibly the hardest to find. There were several French editions, but I haven't compared the table of contents to see if they are straight translations or new lineups.

Meanwhile the digest magazines have been published continuously since 1956 to this day, the second longest running mystery digest next to its sister title Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. There were reprint titles in the UK, Australia, and India. From 1957 to 1968, mostly in the fall, there was a sampler magazine. These were literally three random unsold magazines with the covers ripped off and stuck in a generic cover. I have a couple with the same cover and each has different titles underneath.

Things get confusing again with the series of 27 anthologies more directly linked with the magazine, edited by Eleanor Sullivan and Cathleen Jordan, published between 1977 and 1989. Some were numbered editions in thicker digest format, some also reprinted in hardcover, some reprinted in two large print hard covers as part one and two, some reprinted in the numbered series Alfred Hitchcock's Book of Horror Stories. Despite being more closely tied to the magazine, not all the stories came from there.

The hardback anthologies continued through the 90s, and began to be combined with stories from Ellery Queen. Cynthia Mason edited the later anthologies, with the theming focusing on theme (holidays, cats, etc) and the mention of Alfred Hitchcock being minimized.

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