The Empire of Romance: Love in a Postcolonial Climate

Publication year

While 'love' is regularly claimed by the writers and editors of Mills & Boon to be a universal, eternal concept - immune from the limitations of geography and history - the forms and sites of romance visibly shift in different contexts [...] the settings for romance have now become rather different from those of 1945. [...] The fantasy of true love has always involved a measure of international travel. (114)


The Mills & Boon view of the globe was expressed for most of the 1950s with a strap-line on the dust-jackets asking: 'Are you reading this book in some place far away from London - in New Zealand or Australia, in South Africa or Canada or in Singapore?'
Both readers and writers of the popular romance were necessarily implicated in the transition from empire to Commonwealth. (115)


The 1950 Kathryn Blair novel, The House at Tegwani, was set in South Africa. For Mills & Boon writers and readers of the 1950s, South Africa was not the country of apartheid, but rather - as the cover indicated - 'the colourful, romantic background of South Africa'. South Africa may have been presented as exotically 'colourful' to British readers of Mills & Boon, yet the writers were notably reticent on the subject of colour. Mills & Boon had a large market in South Africa, and the editors were careful of white South African sensibilities. (118)