Harold Hill & Son Limited
Hardback editions with dust-jackets.

Who Were They?

H
The House on the Cliff

arold Hill & Son Limited, family owned book publishers, located at 62 Northumberland Street (later Killingworth Place in Gallowgate) in the North Eastern town of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, was incorporated on the 19th of March 1947, and later successfully obtained agreement from Grosset & Dunlap to publish the Hardy Boys in the UK.

In January 1950 Grosset & Dunlap published their 29th Hardy Boys adventure in the United States: The Secret of the Lost Tunnel. In December the same year, Harold Hill released a UK edition of Lost Tunnel at the princely sum of 6 shillings. From 1950 to 1957, Harold Hill published 17 Hardy Boys titles in total – plus a different edition of their first title, Lost Tunnel. Harold Hill continued publishing for several more decades, and went into liquidation in the late 1980s.

About the Books

Book Dimensions:
12.7cm x 19cm (5" x 7 3/8")
Average Page Count: 226p

The Harold Hill editions were printed by Northumberland Press Limited, based in Gateshead-on-Tyne. They featured the black silhouette of the boys on the front cover boards and the red/orange ‘tree‘ endpapers drawn by J Clemens Gretta that featured on the Grosset & Dunlap editions. In most cases the frontispieces were taken from the American editions; however, in three instances – The Great Airport Mystery, The Hidden Harbour Mystery & The Mark on the Door – a brand new illustration by cover artist Frank Varty was used instead.

LEFT: The three 'new' Harold Hill frontispieces by Frank Varty.
RIGHT: Internal advert for the Harold Hill editions.

Board colours

The cloth bindings of the Harold Hill books were blue for the 1950 and 1951 printings. For all later books and subsequent reprints, a variety of colours were used, including brown, red, tan, cream, light blue, green, orange and yellow.

The orange boards that omit the Harold Hill name on the spine were introduced for reprints of What Happened At Midnight and all subsequent titles. In an interview with Harold Hill's son, collector Sean Bourke found out that these particular editions were produced by another printer, hence the omission (thanks to Paul Mular for this information).

A selection of Harold Hill board colours.

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Internal lists

Oddly, all 28 titles preceding Lost Tunnel were listed inside the Harold Hill editions, despite none of these yet being available from Harold Hill. However, since the Grosset & Dunlap editions were already available in the UK, these other titles may have been included to acknowledge this. Indeed, an advertisement for the books from circa 1953 contains the following statement:

OUR EDITIONS REMAIN AT 6/– NET (6 shillings)
OTHER TITLES IN AMERICAN EDITIONS AT 8/6 NET (8 shillings & sixpence)

LEFT: Harold Hill advert from circa 1953 (courtesy of Paul Mular).
RIGHT: Advert taken from a Nancy Drew dust-jacket flap, circa 1954.

Text alterations

The texts of the books were Anglicised (e.g. harbor changed to harbour, color to colour, hood to bonnet, etc). This meant that the texts were typeset from scratch, and therefore these editions are quite different to the American editions in many regards.

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About the Dust Jackets

The Secret of the Lost Tunnel

The dust jackets on the first three Harold Hill editions used the same cover artwork as on the American editions. The Secret of the Lost Tunnel was the first of only two UK editions that had full wrap-around covers. (A wrap-around jacket features part of the cover art continued onto the spine – The Sinister Sign Post as published by Sampson Low is the other example.) The next two books featured the American cover artwork, but with the wrap-around now replaced by a yellow spine.

Around May 1951, the fourth Harold Hill title was released. But The Tower Treasure, and all subsequent Harold Hill titles, featured new cover artwork by Frank Varty, a prolific British artist who also illustrated many books by other publishers, as well as Collins. Varty would paint 15 covers into total, including the later reprint of Lost Tunnel.

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Table of Harold Hill Editions

The following table lists all of the Harold Hill editions in chronological order, with the first column recording the dates found on the copyright pages of these books. Please note that the BNB publication dates are presented exactly as they are listed in the British National Bibliography, hence the specific layout of the brackets.

Note: BNB dates for The Tower Treasure and The House on the Cliff appear to be in error and probably refer to when the titles were deposited at the British Museum rather than genuine publication dates.

Title BNB Date Cover Artist Dust-Jacket Preview
1950 #29 The Secret Of The Lost Tunnel Dec 1950 Bill Gillies The Sign of the Crooked Arrow
1951 #28 The Sign of The Crooked Arrow [Feb] 1951 Russell Tandy The Phantom Freighter
  #26 The Phantom Freighter [Mar] 1951 Russell Tandy Enid Blyton advert
  #1 The Tower Treasure (see note) [Jun] 1951 Frank Varty The House on the Cliff
  #2 The House on the Cliff (see note) [May] 1951 Frank Varty The Secret of the Old Mill
  #3 The Secret of the Old Mill July 1951 Frank Varty The Missing Chums
  #4 The Missing Chums [Sep] 1951 Frank Varty Hunting For Hidden Gold
  #5 Hunting For Hidden Gold [Sep] 1951 Frank Varty The Shore Road Mystery
1953 #6 The Shore Road Mystery [Jun] 1953 Frank Varty The Secret of the Caves
  #7 The Secret of the Caves [Jun] 1953 Frank Varty The Mystery of Cabin Island
  #8 The Mystery of Cabin Island [Nov] 1953 Frank Varty The Great Airport Mystery
  #9 The Great Airport Mystery [Nov] 1953 Frank Varty What Happened At Midnight
1955 #10 What Happened At Midnight [May] 1955 Frank Varty While The Clock Ticked
  #11 While The Clock Ticked [May] 1955 Frank Varty Footprints Under The Window
1957 #12 Footprints Under The Window [Mar] 1957 Frank Varty The Mark on The Door
  #13 The Mark On The Door [Mar] 1957 Frank Varty The Hidden Harbour Mystery
  #14 The Hidden Harbour Mystery [Oct] 1957 Frank Varty The Sinister Sign Post
  #29 The Secret of the Lost Tunnel
(reprint)
--- Frank Varty The Sign of the Crooked Arrow

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