History of Romance Novels – Modern Romance Novels

History of the Romance Novels


Romance fiction entered the world early on in the 20th century. The first stories came out of England. A publishing firm in England started in 1908 published romance stories. They also published works by many different authors.  The company quickly realized that they were selling their romance novels quicker than other book that they had for sale. The firm eventually dropped all the other books that they had and started creating romance stories because they were in high demand and great sellers.

Over the years the English firm had great success and a company known as Harlequin Books noticed that. This publishing company then decided to start publishing these books for North America. The name became Harlequin Books, and the publisher quickly became very popular in North America.  In the 1970s the publishing companies merged and became one. The English company became part of Harlequin, which started creating independent offices around the world. This allowed them to publish romance novels in many different languages all over the world. In 1981 the Tor-Star Corporation acquired both publishing companies.  

For many years, the England publishing company was the sole buyer for the company. They were purchasing books from authors located in Europe. In the 70s, they did begin publishing an American writer. However, the company did not start to buy from authors located in the United States until the 1980s.

Harlequin’s main rival was known as Silhouette Romance Harlequin purchased Silhouette Romance in the 1980s. The link between Harlequin and the English company has flourished over the years. There are other publishers of romance novels that are located throughout the world and release many stories in their own way.

The only romantic literature producer that was known in America was Harlequin, and in the United Kingdom they were known by their local name.  The range of stories published was wide and vast. There were medical stories, contemporary stories, historical romance and just about every story that someone could want under both brands. Readers who read these stories wanted more variety with longer stories and more details. They wanted stories that weren’t short and sweet and had spicier elements and even more sensual elements within the story lines.

Due to this, many types of romances started to spring up from the core of the original stories. The Harlequin office in Toronto and other cities started to purchase new stories, of a different genre and from entirely new authors. Cover designs were also changed to help readers see what the story was going to be about and that story lines had changed from the original concepts. They could see by looking at the cover what genre of romance these stories were.

Many of these changes came about because other publishers started to put out different stories. They saw Harlequin publishers make a lot of money and wanted to cash in on it. The change came because the original formula of sexy female meets hot male no longer was what the reader wanted. If a line of books or a subgenre failed, it was discontinued. Even today this holds true. If a certain series or genre of books no longer works, it is deleted and not brought up again.