James Hilton, Lost Horizon
Pocket Book Inc. New York 1939.
After its initial publication in 1933, and the subsequent 1937 film directed by Frank Capra, Lost Horizon became a huge popular success. In 1939, it was published in paperback form as Pocket Book No.1.
Paperbacks, of course, had been around since the mid-1800s, but what made this particular book of revolutionary importance, was that it had the distinction of being the very first ever “mass-market” paperback. With the addition of an extravagant high-gloss laminate on the cover, Pocket Books sold several million copies of Lost Horizon, helping to make it one of the best-loved and most enduring novels of the 20th Century.
The story is well known. Following a plane crash, Conway – a British consul, his deputy, a missionary and an American financier, find themselves in the enigmatic snow-capped mountains of remotest Tibet. Here they discover the mysterious lamasery of Shangri-La and are welcomed with gracious hospitality by a seemingly perfect hidden community. Intrigued by its mystery, the travellers set about discovering the hidden secrets of this beautiful place where time seems to stand still.
Read the book, but watch the 1937 Frank Capra film too – it’s wonderful.