Friday, August 11, 2017

FFB: ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S WITCH'S BREW edited by Henry Veit (Random House 1977)...as opposed to ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S WITCHES' BREW edited by the staff of ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE (Dell Books 1965)


Among the manifold confusions that the branding of "Alfred Hitchcock" anthologies has engendered, between their clutch of publishers (particularly Dell Books, which was in the "Hitchcock" anthology business the longest and mostest--and the books they didn't generate they often reprinted, the long Random House hardcovers frequently broken into two volumes each and sometimes with differing contents from the original anthologies and sometimes with new titles) and ghost-editors (it's not too clear that Hitchcock himself ever did much to edit any of the books credited to him; it's utterly clear that he didn't do much more than sign off in a general way on almost all of them, along with the magazine named for him and other similar products), one of those which can even vex such careful "Hitchcock" readers as Frank Babics and the folks at The Hitchcock Zone, much less all the others more casually engaged (such as ISFDB or GoodReads, and even WorldCat), is the similarity of titles between the last of the young readers' anthologies in the series Random House would publish, Henry Veit's 1977 Alfred Hitchcock's Witch's Brew, and the early (1965) entry in the long series of Dell Books paperback original volumes of stories drawn from the pages of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Witches' Brew, edited anonymously but presumably by the editorial staff at AHMM.  Hell, I tripped up on this when writing to George Kelley, who was trying to figure out the confusion these and other references had presented, in his post on both books a year or so back. 
The known ghost-editors of Hitchcock anthologies include: Don Ward (long-term Dell editor who did "Hitchcock" anthologies from the years before the AH Presents: tv series began and branding went into overdrive, with both the Random House anthologies and AHMM beginning along with the show in 1956; notably, later, Ward edited Zane Grey's Western Magazine for Dell), Patricia Hitchcock aka O'Connell (his daughter), most diversely and importantly Robert Arthur (the one who also wrote radio scripts as well as for a wide range of fiction magazines, and who edited such magazines as The Mysterious Traveler keyed to one of his radio series), Harold Q. Masur (who succeeded Robert Arthur as editor of Random House's anthologies aimed at adults when Arthur died rather young in 1969), Peter Haining (primarily for UK paperback line the New English Library's Four Square imprint), Muriel Fuller (a children's lit specialist who edited the first Random House YA, Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful, before Arthur took the series over till his death), and for the last two YA volumes, Veit. 

So...I remember reading Alfred Hitchcock's Witch's Brew, already a bit nostalgically as I'd gone through Robert Arthur's YA Hitchcocks several years before, while sitting in detention at what was then Londonderry Junior High School one afternoon. I'd already read through some back issues of AHMM by that time, borrowed from the library or purchased at used book sales, but was a month or so away from buying my first new issue of AHMM (January 1978) and growing as addicted as I've been since to fiction magazines generally. Following the Robert Arthur YA model rather well (though it's arguably a bit less focused an anthology than most of the Arthur YAs, more like the Arthur and Masur Alfred Hitchcock Presents: adult anthologies thus, even given the witchy theme), it's a diverse and good collection of horror, fantasy and related stories mostly by notable writers in these fields, mixed in this case with a novel excerpt (from T. H. White's Arthurian fantasy The Sword in the Stone) and another novelty for the series, an abridged version of a story, this one probably an improvement on the original by the windy Sterling Lanier. 

The contents of Witch's Brew (courtesy ISFDB and corrected with The FictionMags Index, since ISFDB incorrectly assumes several of the newer stories first appeared in the Dell anthology, which it mistakes for the first edition of this book):
Illustration from AH's Witch's Brew by Stephen Marchesi; scan courtesy The Hitchcock Zone.
Meanwhile, here is the Hitchcock Zone table of contents of Alfred Hitchcock's Witches' Brew, the 1965 AHMM best-of, with the pagination of the 1978 edition added by me, and original publication info from the FictionMags Index:

1965 first edition; not solely in paperback
6. Introduction by Alfred Hitchcock (ghost-written)
19. A Shot from the Dark Night by Avram Davidson  Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Feb 1958 (incorrectly cited in the book's acknowledgments as a 1960 story)
31. I Had a Hunch, and... by Talmage Powell (ss) Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine May 1959 (incorrectly cited in the book as a 1960 story) (also included in Alfred Hitchcock’s Anthology #18 1984)
43. A Killing in the Market by Robert Bloch Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine May 1958 (also included in Alfred Hitchcock’s Anthology #16 1983)
91. The Gentle Miss Bluebeard by Nedra Tyre Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Nov 1959
121. Just for Kicks by Richard Marsten (Evan Hunter) Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Jun 1958
169. When Buying a Fine Murder by Jack Ritchie Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Jun 1960

Richard Decker was the AHMM editor for much of 1964, succeeded by G. F. Foster, so one or the other is probably the editor of this volume unless the Dell Books editor made the selection...or some combination...

Alfred Hitchcock's Anthology #13, a Davis Publications magazine issue, reprinted by the Dial Press (a Dell hardcover imprint) as Alfred Hitchcock's Death-Reach
Alfred Hitchcock's Anthology #18 reprinted by the Dial Press as Alfred Hitchcock's Crimewatch

I don't remember if I picked up my then-new 1978 third edition or the secondhand copy of the 1965 original first, but probably the former...I don't think I have a copy of the 1975 second edition from Dell:


The AHMM best-of is very much comparable, if certainly less diverse, a reading experience to the YA anthology of a dozen years earlier, with a similar mix of brilliant to decent writers; the classic Robert Bloch story in the Random House volume is certainly better than the good Bloch story in the AHMM book, but that's hardly a fair comparison, as "That Hell-Bound Train" is one of the key stories in Bloch's career. The ghosted introduction to the Dell book is rather funnier, one of the best in that series...one wonders who actually wrote it (perhaps devising editorials for her father was one of Patricia Hitchcock's duties in the office of the magazine). 

For some reason, the Random House paperback editions of the YA volumes would often drop some of the stories, though I don't see that RH even ever offered a paperback reprint of Witch's Brew, though the UK saw both hardcover and paperback editions:





























For more of today's books, much more promptly reviewed, 
please see the gracious and patient Patti Abbott's blog.

4 comments:

Kirk said...

Hitchcock's daughter was a ghost editor? Well, at least it was kept in the family.

Todd Mason said...

For the 1959 Random House anthology, when Robert Arthur was otherwise editing them, Patricia Hitchcock ghosted AH PRESENTS: SOME OF MY FAVORITES IN SUSPENSE; and she was on the staff of ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE when it was still being published by HSD Publications, 1956-1975. Kept her off the streets.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I didn't know she worked on the mag, thanks for all the detective work Todd. I love that illustration with the Hitch cauldron!

Todd Mason said...

Some of the YA Random House books are handsomer than others, but almost all have some impressive illustration to them...and this just scratches the surfaces...