Hangover House was originally conceived as a stage-play
titled "The Body's Upstairs" which was written by Sax Rohmer and his wife,
Elizabeth. Cay Van Ash recalls: "Negotiations for production were begun and seemed to
be going well. But the threat of war [WWII] already hung heavy on the air" (Master of
Villainy 252). The plot was reworked as a Bimbāshi Barūk short story and published as
"Serpent Wind" in Collier's on November 7, 1942. It was rewritten
yet again as a serial and ran as Hangover House in Collier's from February 19 to March 19, 1949, the
last of 208 issues containing Sax Rohmer's work.
Ted Shane, an editor at Collier's,
offered the following explanation for the serial's origins:
"The memory of a New Year's cocktail party given by the Sax Rohmers at their place
in the English Surrey hills shortly before the outbreak of World War II, gave rise to the
serial, Hangover House (p. 22). The occasion was a weekend, and the invitation read 'At
home from 6:00 P.M., December 30th, to 6:00 A.M., January 1st.'
The result, Mr. Rohmer assures us, was chaos.
'Guests who turned up late Saturday night for cocktails
reappeared from sundry bedrooms on the morning of the 31st,' says Mr. Rohmer. 'One damsel
in full evening dress, on her way to a New Year's Eve celebration elsewhere, dropped in
about sevenish on the 31st and remained till noon on January 2nd. There may be some of the
guests around still, for all we know.
'Hangover House was written in New York, entirely surrounded by
musicians,' says Mr. Rohmer. 'A lively lady pianist on my immediate left practiced Ravel
from 10:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. A soprano opposite did scales for three hours. A
violinist (sex unknown, execution strongly approved) tortured a nonvintage violin in the
room below from four to seven daily, Sunday matinee included. Originally intended as a
play, how it became a novel is not entirely clear to me. In such circumstances, however,
it was born.'"
. . . Ted Shane "The Week's Work" Collier's. February
|1949. New York and Toronto: Random House.
First American and Canadian editions.
1949. New York: Detective Book Club, 1949. Omnibus containing Hangover House,
The D.A. Breaks an Egg by Erle Stanley Gardner
and Shark River by Richard Powell.
1950. London: Herbert Jenkins.
First British edition.
Second impression, 1950.
No Date. New York: Herbert J. Black.
|No Date. London: Thriller Book Club.
1951. Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey: Graphic Publishing. A Graphic Mystery #32
1954. 2nd printing. #78.
1956. 3rd printing. #504.
1988. London: Amereon Ltd. June