I once was on a list where one writer threw a hissy fit that another writer on the list was using “her” title for a novel in a very different genre and with an entirely different target audience. (Oddly, neither writer appeared to realize that the title both were using had been used years before by a well-known novelist and that the novel in question was still a top seller on Amazon.)
It’s a good thing neither of these writers was publishing historical fiction, where some titles are so good that they keep popping up again and again, both within and without the genre. Mind you, I’m not suggesting that this is at all illegal or unethical—my own novel, in fact, shares a moniker with at least two older books, one a 1908 novel long out of print, the other a 1960’s novel out of print but still easily had on the secondhand market. Perhaps, however, it’s time to retire some of the titles below, just like the jerseys of football and basketball greats:
The Court(s) of Love. Used by Jean Plaidy, Denee Cody, Peter Bourne, Alice Brown, and Ellen Gilchrist. Not to mention Geoffrey Chaucer.
The Prince of Darkness. Used by Sharon Penman, Paul Doherty, Jean Plaidy, Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth, Susanna Firth, Ray Russell, and Patricia Dexheimer, just to list a few. And Ozzy Osbourne had a go at it too.
The Sun(ne) in Splendo(u)r. Used by Sharon Penman, Jean Plaidy, Juliet Dymoke, Colin Maxwell, and Thomas Burke. There’s also a book called Splendour in the Sun, which got me to humming an immensely annoying 1970’s song called “Seasons in the Sun” (“We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun”). Quick, someone play some Ozzy Osbourne.
Gay Lord Robert. Used only by Jean Plaidy as far as I know (in a 1971 novel about Robert Dudley), but it takes a very, very manly man to go into Barnes and Noble nowadays and declare, in ringing tones, “I would like to order Gay Lord Robert.”
Then again, my husband once walked into a bookstore and ordered a book called The Brave Little Toaster for me. A manly man, indeed.