31 January 2009

The Mysterious Judith Hearne

The Lonely Passion of Miss Judith Hearne [?]
Brian Moore
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958

Writing my first post, I was reminded that Wreath for a Redhead is not the only Brian Moore novel to have appeared under another title. In the 'sixties and 'seventies, The Feast of Lupercal (1958) was being published as a Panther paperback under the insipid A Moment of Love. I'm not alone in having been annoyed when The Colour of Blood (1987) was published by McClelland and Stewart - "The Canadian Publishers" - as The Color of Blood. And then there's Judith Hearne (1955), which appeared as The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne when first published in the United States. The American title has been with us ever since, and was used in the 1987 movie starring Maggie Smith.

So, how to explain this oddity, the first Penguin edition? The polite form of address - Miss Judith Hearne, if you please - features on the front cover and title page, but the spine clearly reads The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne Curiously, the book refers to itself twice as simply Judith Hearne in the cover copy. Judith Hearne, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, The Lonely Passion of Miss Judith Hearne - indications of an indecisive publisher perhaps?


  1. This is an extraordinary novel isn't it? I found it more moving than Joyce - in fact, unbearable. Like The Death of Ivan Ilyich, it's so good I would hesitate to recommend it. I hadnt realized how long ago it was published.

  2. Interesting. I've never come across this title variation. I was in Belfast a few months ago and an academic showed me the road where Judith had her lodgings. He was surprised to discover an English Moore obsessive. Just happened upon your blog and pleased to see the pieces about the Bernard O'Mara books (is Bernard's christian name linked with the character from Judith Hearne, who also gets a fleeting mention in The Doctor's Wife?). I hope you're going to do the rest. I stopped reading them after two, but then, they were very expensive to get hold of and have posted to the UK.

    1. Nice to hear from an English Moore obsessive. I was lucky enough to purchase Moore's early pulp novels before prices really began to get out of hand. Though I've only read four, I'm pacing myself at one per year. These will be the end, I suppose, though I've still to read his Time/Life book on Canada and a few stray short stories. Sad to think that there's not much else to explore.