#MyrtleMondays: Audiobooks of In Myrtle Peril now available!

This is the news I know many of you have been waiting for! Just in time for holiday travel listening, Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries #4, In Myrtle Peril, has arrived on audio!

RecordedBooks and narrator extraordinaire Bethan Rose Young have done it again!

Bethan Rose Young: the voice of Myrtle… and everyone else

Skillfully navigating from Myrtle’s voice to inhabit legions of other characters, Young brings Myrtle & Co.’s latest misadventure in Victorian criminology brilliantly to life. Click here to listen to a sample.

The audiobook arrived last week, and it’s already a hit—it’s been a #1 Amazon new release twice!


Of course, it wouldn’t be #MyrtleMondays if we didn’t delve into the historical side of things. So let’s take a brief look at the evolution of audiobooks.

From Wikimedia Commons: Caption reads: “The phonograph at home reading out a novel.” From Daily Graphic (New York), 2 April 1878. Less than a year after the invention of the phonograph, this drawing offered a future vision. 

The history of audiobooks begins, of course, with the history of sound recording. Scientists and inventors had experimented with ways to recreate soundwaves in other media for decades, but it was Thomas Edison’s wax cylinder phonograph that cracked the all-important secret of playback and made sound recording commercially viable.

1878 advert for Edison’s phonograph (Do I want a device that laughs?)

Although the phonograph found its popularity through music, the earliest audio recordings were of spoken words. Edison initially tested his device by dictating “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” making Mother Goose the first author to get an audiobook of her work! Click here to hear Edison recreate that moment in 1927.

And you thought earbuds were modern. (1889, “Society Ladies Using Earphones”)

Edison always envisioned recording novels, but the earliest media were too small to accommodate long works. Wax cylinders were limited to four minutes! It was not until the advent of close-grooved records in the 1930s that longer recordings became practical.

Visually impaired listeners gather around a record player in this promotional image from the Talking Books Program, 1930s | LOC

In the 1930s, the United States Congress passed legislation providing free access to recorded books for Americans with visual impairments and other disabilities. (In fact, since 1913, publishers must provide Braille and/or audio versions of all books published in the United States.) The American Federation for the Blind stepped in with the Talking Books Program to provide audio recordings—a service that continues, nearly a century later.

Newspaper ad from 1974 featuring the Superscope Storyteller series of fairy tales on tape

My own audiobook story begins with Superscope Storyteller in the 1970s. This colorful set of classic tales on tape, with matching read-along storybooks, formed my introduction to fairytales.

The fateful version of Rumpelstiltskin your learned author grew up with, along with its distinctive brown cassette tape. The (mostly) brightly colored tapes helped young listeners quickly distinguish their tapes from their parents’ easy listening hits.

Some time later, that early influence became my own first audiobook: A Curse Dark as Gold read by Charlotte Parry.

As you’re planning your holiday listening, don’t forget that Cold-Blooded Myrtle makes the perfect yuletide storytime, featuring an Exceptionally Victorian Christmas and an exceptionally puzzling cold case. (It’s also great for actual reading-reading!)

…And while you’re collecting holiday-themed mysteries to listen to, why not try the only Sherlock Holmes story set at Christmas? Click here for more about “The Blue Carbuncle,” including a link to an audio recording.

Happy listening!