Sunday, September 9, 2012
September 9 is the birthdate of English novelist James Hilton, author of Lost Horizon (1933) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1934). His inspiration for Lost Horizon and its utopian "Shangri-La" in the Himalayas was partly a Tibetan travelogue by two French priests written in the 1840s. In 1939 the book became the first “mass market” paperback published by Pocket Books (with serial number "1"). These portable paperbacks were affordable for people of modest means. The book saw more than 40 printings by the 1960s (when I read it!) and sold millions of copies. President Roosevelt called what later became Camp David in Maryland “Shangri-La.” Pictured: 1939 paperback cover.