Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Clarke's Guide to Margaret Sutton's Judy Bolton Mystery Stories

A few months ago, while writing about the various printing guides available to series book collector's, Jennifer White alerted me to the existence of a Judy Bolton guide that had been created and published by SynSine Press. I began searching for it, and several weeks ago found a copy on the Abe Books website. It was only 20.00, so I quickly picked it up. I'm very glad that I did. Unlike other guides out there the Clarke's Guide focuses on a few printings, as opposed to every printing ever done of the Judy Bolton series.
Laurie Clarke focuses on first printings of each title, first wrap dust jackets, first picture covers, first revised texts, first paperbacks, facsimiles and unusual printings. Thus the book is not as thick as Farah's Guide, or for that matter as thorough, but it helps the collector know what he or she has, and gives a good overview of the printing history of the Judy Bolton series.

There is a section that focuses on the various formats of the series, and also the different spines and their evolution over the years. This also will help the collector as he or she looks for and acquires volumes in the Judy Bolton series.
Clarke uses the same identification format that Farah uses, as well as the same abbreviations. For those familiar with that guide, it makes for an easy transition to this one. I have posted a couple of pictures of my copy, to help a person know what they can look for if they want their own copy. I'm very glad to have a copy. Thanks to Jennifer White for her letting me know about this source.
Let me add here that a certain amount of caution needs to be used when using this or any printing guide. Many people feel that proper bibliographic standards are not used in these type of guides. This is partially due to the fact that Grosset and Dunlap did not give printing histories in their various volumes. A certain amount of conjecture is used on the part of these guide authors. Looking at dust jackets and ads for other books in the various volumes help to date a particular printing, but it is probably not foolproof. For me, I am willing to use the books to date my various series books, but others are not so inclined. It is really up to the individual collector.
Laurie Clarke's volume was published in 1995. so it has been almost fifteen years since its publication. Newer printings of Judy Bolton titles may have been found since that time. There is a Washington, DC address for Miss Clarke in the book. Does anyone know if she is still there, and if she still travels in any series book circles? I'd love to get in touch with her if anyone knows where she currently resides or has an email address.
I like this guide, and have added it to my most consulted reference pieces.


  1. I think that the first printing information in Clarke's Guide is pretty accurate, but I have noticed some inaccuracy in her identification of the first printings of the wrap dust jackets for #1-8. This is because I have found books that have wrap dust jackets that list slightly fewer titles. Other than that, I have never noticed any inaccuracies.

    Clarke's Guide is a good guide to have since it does give us a good idea of which books are first printings. I wish that the Dana Girls Guide had been published. It is frustrating that so much work went into a guide, and then the author lost interest before publication.

  2. This guide was originally done in a paper bound edition by Laurie herself. I never saw this version, but it looks very nice.

    There was always a lot of speculations about the firsts of three books - Barred Window, Rainbow Riddle, and Living Portrait - because early copies had so many different bindings that it was hard to know which ones came first.