William Nicholas Willis (1858-1922) is one of the more obscure Australian writers and publishers of the first half of the twentieth century. Better known in his home country as a corrupt politician, he left Australia around 1910 for Singapore before moving onto London a year later. In addition to writing a couple of racing novels, he mounted a spirited campaign against the evils of the white slave trade, producing several polemical books on the topic. As well as being a writer, Willis was also a publisher. He established the Anglo-Eastern Publishing Company in London around 1914, mainly to publish his own books and pulp fiction novels, many appearing under the pseudonym of Bree Narran. Most of these novels rehashed the formula of an innocent young woman being led into social disgrace by the amorous attentions of an unscrupulous cad before being rescued by the love of a good man. This article will briefly chronicle Willis s life, survey his books and then focus on his publishing activities including those of his son, also William Nicholas Willis, who took over the Anglo-Eastern Publishing Company after his father s death. It will also try to solve the vexed question of who wrote the Bree Narran novels: Willis himself, his son, or Willis Sr.'s effective de facto wife, Catherine Mercy Marion Simmons, also known as Mercy Lehane Willis.
|Pages (from-to)||197 - 220|
|Number of pages||24|
|Journal||Script & Print: Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|