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Harlequin Romance Novels

Harlequin was founded in May 1949 by publishing executive Richard Bonnycastle in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada as a paperback reprinting company. The company's first product was Nancy Bruff's novel The Manatee. For its first few years, the company published a wide range of books, all offered for sale for 25 cents. Among the novels they reprinted were works by Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Hadley Chase, and Somerset Maugham. Their biggest success was Jean Plaidy's 1951 release, Beyond the Blue Mountain. Of the 30,000 copies sold, only 48 were returned.

In 1953, the company began to publish medical romances, with Bonnycastle's wife, Mary, serving as editor. Mary Bonnycastle enjoyed reading the romances of British publisher Mills and Boon, and, at her urging, in 1957 Harlequin acquired the North American distribution rights to the category romance novels which had been published by Mills and Boon in the Commonwealth of Nations. The first Mills and Boon novel to be reprinted by Harlequin was Anne Vinton's The Hospital in Buwambo (Mills and Boon No 407).