Previous blog entries from the Random House YA anthology series:
Other volumes in the Random House YA series:
Robert Arthur, editor:
Alfred Hitchcock's Sinister Spies (1966)
Alfred Hitchcock's Daring Detectives (1969)
Robert Arthur, author:
Alfred Hitchcock's Solve-Them-Yourself Mysteries (1963)
the initial AH and the Three Investigators novels (beginning 1964)
Henry Veit, editor:
Alfred Hitchcock's Supernatural Tales of Terror and Suspense (1973)
i • Frontispiece blurb by Robert Arthur (as by Alfred Hitchcock): These are mystery-suspense stories. Some will keep you on the edge of your chair with excitement. Others are calculated to draw you along irresistibly to see how the puzzle works out. I have even included a sample or two of stories that are humorous, to show you that humor and mystery can also add up to suspense.
So here you are, with best wishes for hours of good reading.
Robert Arthur, having inherited the editorship of the Random House "Alfred Hitchcock" anthologies aimed at adult readers either with or just after 1959's Alfred Hitchcock Presents: My Favorites in Suspense (in the spot where Arthur would be credited in his later volumes, Patricia Hitchcock under her married name is cited instead), had produced another volume in that series, 1961's AHP: Stories for Late at Night (and might also at least helped put together 1957's AHP: Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do on TV at Simon & Schuster) before Random House decided they also might have a market for a juvenile-readers' series, and tapped veteran children's editor Muriel Fuller to assemble the nicely illustrated and designed Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful (1961). However, Fuller's book was somewhat lacking in punch; a quarter of the text was taken up with a long excerpt from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, excellent material but even better in context and while suspenseful, not exactly the kind of thing kids picking up a Haunted AH book might be looking for. A chestnut of a Doyle Sherlock Holmes story was mixed with stories a bit more on point from some good writers, such as Manly Wade Wellman, but nearly all of those stories were from young readers' magazines Boy's Life and Story Parade. This was the kiddie roller-coaster.
By the time the second AH volume for young readers was released, Arthur had the gig. None of his selections were from magazines aimed at kids, yet all were accessible to young readers. Perhaps the self-indulgence of Fuller in running the Twain excerpt for much of her book was seen as more off-putting than Arthur including three of his own stories, if good ones, as a means of presumably supplementing his take of the editorial budget (or perhaps he sold rights to himself for budget prices to allow for only two stories in the public domain to be included). This was definitely a full-strength anthology for little monster-lovers. While Arthur was never afraid to run a chestnut in his YA books as well (such as "The Upper Berth", certainly, and to a lesser extent the Burrage, Wells and Stevenson stories), he was also offering fairly recent stories for 1962, in the Kuttner and Moore (even if it was dealing in its outre manner with an early postwar situation) and most of the others.
By the time of the 1967 suspense volume, the success of both Random House series was assured, as was that of the third series Arthur had launched with them, the Three Investigators novels. Unfortunately, Arthur's health was beginning to fail by this time, even if his ability to assemble an entertaining anthology was undiminished; the mix of impressive chestnuts young readers might not've yet encountered (such as cover story "The Most Dangerous Game", probably the most plagiarized short story in the 20th Century in English; I find myself disagreeing with Friday Fright Night host Curtis Evans in his relative assessment of the original story and the first film made from it, by largely the same folks behind the first King Kong; I prefer the original text) and even slightly more "edgy" newer stories such as Roald Dahl's "Man from the South". Of course, I'd also take slight issue with the notion that Robert Bloch's "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" (another remarkably widely-plagiarized story!) is a realistic mystery/suspense story so much as horror...Daphne Du Maurier's "The Birds" wanders up to the edge of that divide, as well...though including either the Dahl, which had already become one of the most famous of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: tv episodes, nor "The Birds", source story for the inferior 1963 Hitchcock film, probably wasn't too much a matter of controversy around the Random House offices.
I certainly loved this series of anthologies as a young reader, and inhaled them along with the Random House adult-oriented volumes from about 1974 onward (and the Dell paperbacks taken from them and their similarly-packaged series of best-ofs from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine), the RH volumes as edited by Arthur up till his death in 1969, and the adult series continued by Harold Q. Masur from the next volume till the death of Hitchcock himself in 1979; Henry Veit was to produce the two YA anthologies cited above after Arthur's last.