Browne Popular Culture Library

PCL MS-140: Joan Kahn Collection

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


Joan Kahn was an editor of mystery and suspense novels. Correspondence and miscellaneous articles concerning some of the books she edited form the core of this collection.

Olivia Kahn transferred material from Joan Kahn's personal library to the Browne Popular Culture Library, Bowling Green State University, in August 1995. The collection is open for research; however, photocopying or other duplication of manuscripts must comply with applicable copyright laws. This register was compiled by Kirk Richardson under the supervision of Jean Geist, Popular Culture Library Associate II in February 1997. It was updated in September 2009 by Patricia Falk.

Biographical Sketch 

Joan Kahn was born on April 13, 1914, in New York City and attended the Horace Mann School, the Yale School of Art, Barnard College and the Art Students League. She began her career at Harper Brothers in 1946, editing books about history, art, theater and travel, in addition to suspense novels. She wrote two novels -- To Meet Miss Long (1943) and Open House (1946) -- and four children's books and edited 11 mystery anthologies.

Joan Kahn edited hundreds of suspense novels and her imprint, "A Joan Kahn Book," represented excellence for discriminating mystery lovers. She started the Harper Novels of Suspense during her 34- year career at Harper & Row and also edited books for Ticknor & Fields, Dutton and St. Martin's Press, from which she retired in 1989. Through the years, she signed such writers as Dorothy L. Sayers, Dick Francis, Patricia Highsmith, Michael Gilbert, Julian Symons, John Creasey and Tony Hillerman.

In 1985, she received the Ellery Queen Award from the Mystery Writers of America for lifetime service to the industry. On her retirement, she received a special Edgar Allan Poe Award from the association for her distinguished career in the publishing of mystery fiction.

Joan Kahn died after a brief illness in October 1994. She is survived by a sister, Olivia, and three nephews, Ely, Joseph, and Hamilton.

Scope and content 

The Joan Kahn Collection houses notes and reviews about some of the books Joan Kahn edited. All of the miscellaneous articles and notes were removed from books from Joan Kahn's estate donated to the Browne Popular Culture Library by Olivia Kahn.

Researchers interested in the mystery-suspense genre, as well as in the craft of mystery writing and publication, will find this collection useful.

Series Description 


Literary Correspondence
10 items
Arranged chronologically
Correspondence with publishers, editors, and authors

Miscellaneous Materials

Handwritten notes as well as newspaper clippings and reviews
34 items
1957, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1983


Box 1
1Correspondence concerning Kahn's departure from Harper & Row
(removed from People of Darkness - an uncorrected proof)
from Hill, ReginaldJuly 5, 1980
to Shimer, RuthMay 19, 1980
from "John"n.d.
from Burke, JacksonMay 8, 1980
from Greene, DouglasMay 8, 1980
from Sundgaard, ArnoldMay 6, 1980
from Doody, Margaret A.May 2, 1980
from Dale, CeliaMay 2, 1980
from Yorke, MargaretApril 30, 1980
from "Jane"April 8, 1980
Newspaper ad concerning Wodehouse On Crime, a Joan Kahn Book
2Newspaper article about Lord Peter Wimsey from The Listener, May 11, 1972
(removed from Lord Peter: A Collection of All the Lord Peter Wimsey Stories)
3Handwritten note to Erica Goldman from Joan Kahn [n.d.]
(removed from The Yellow Submarine).
4Book jackets for You Want to Die, Johnny? and A Dragon for Christmas by Gavin Black
5Book jacket for Threshold: The First Days of Retirement by Alan H. Olmstead
6Photocopy of newspaper article "A Year After the Military's Overthrow of Mrs. Peron, Violence and Turmoil Still Mark Argentine Life" from The New York Times, March 25, 1977
(removed from The Kidnappers)
7Personal note from Eve Metz to Joan Kahn, [n.d.]
(removed from Criminal Convention)
8Bookmarks, red
(removed from The Chinese Gold Murders by Robert van Gulik)
9Propaganda brochure from the Massachusetts Political Action for Peace, April 1967
(removed from Selected Poems by C. Day Lewis)
10Three photocopied reviews of My Life in Jazz by Max Kaminsky from the Toronto Globe and Mail, May 10, 1963; The Boston Herald, May 14, 1963; and Variety, May 15, 1963
(removed from My Life in Jazz by Max Kaminsky)
11Brochure for Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
(removed from Strangers on a Train)
12Review of Strike for a Kingdom by Menna Gallie from Time, January 11, 1960, and a photocopy of dust jacket for Strike for a Kingdom
(removed from Strike for a Kingdom)
13Newspaper article about Dick Francis from The New York Times, Thursday, February 27 1969
(removed from Forfeit by Dick Francis)
14Personal correspondence from Cecil Day Lewis, Aug. 13, 1960
(removed from King of Rome by Andre Castelot)
15Newspaper review [n.d.] of The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by John Dickson Carr
(removed from The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
16Correspondence from Isabelle Holland; Jul. 9, 1962
(removed from The Turbulent City by Denise Folliot)
17Obituary for John Creasey from The New York Times, Sunday, June 10, 1973
(removed from Gideon's Sport by John Creasey)
18Press release for A Handbook for Spies by Wolfgang Lotz
(removed from A Handbook for Spies)
19Correspondence and unproofed, advance prologue from Julian Symons, Mar. 21, 1949
20Correspondence from Marianne Moore, Sep. 20, 1960; and from Cecil Day Lewis, Oct. 1, 1962
(removed from The Buried Day by C. Day Lewis)
21Small "Reward of Merit" from 'Margaret' and 'Roger'
(removed from The Blood Spot by John Creasey)
22Brochure about "The 'Other' John Creasey" with handwritten note, Aug. 26, 1972
(removed from Gideon's Men by John Creasey)
23Correspondence from Frank X. Heidelberger, Feb. 24, 19_, and from Jacques Barzun, Feb. 11, 1982
(removed from A Catalog of Crime)
24Newspaper review of The Thirty-First of February [n.d.] by Julian Symons
(removed from The Thirty-First of February)
25Correspondence to "Dear Editor" [n.d.]
26Page from Grove Press, Fall 1987
27Review of Queen of France by Andre Castelot in Time, Aug. 12, 1957
28New York Times book review, Oct. 14, 1973, and The Cape Codder, Mar. 26, 1982
(removed from Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens by Michael Gilbert)

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