Paperback: 400pp

Published: Lightning Books (May 2018)

ISBN: 9781785630804

The Industry of Human Happiness

James Hall


A tale of love, murder and obsession in the early days of the gramophone

Set in the murky backstage world of late Victorian theatreland, The Industry of Human Happiness is about the obsessive characters who dreamed of bringing recorded music to the masses.

Max and his younger cousin Rusty have a vision of launching the gramophone industry from a Covent Garden basement. But a renowned opera singer is brutally murdered in his hotel bed and they are thrust into the underworld of opium dens, brothels and extortion.

Ghosts from the past and a contested inheritance turn the cousins against each other, and they go head-to-head to launch rival ‘talking machines’. With Max’s sweetheart, the ambitious singer Delilah Green, caught in the middle, the pair battle rival manufacturers, London theatre owners and, ultimately, each other, for their very futures.

This is a story of obsession, the pursuit of love and the enduring magic of music.






“Absolutely enthralling, The Industry of Human Happiness immerses you in the sights, smells and above all the sounds of 1890s London and beyond, so that you too are walking along the streets; a musical, erudite roller-coaster of a book.”

Rosamund Lupton


The Industry of Human Happiness is meticulously researched and very effectively captures the flavour of both the fledgling record industry, and the revolutionary impact it would come to have on cultural life, as well as the seedy but exhilarating world of London’s West End in the late nineteenth century. The plot remains fast-moving and engaging... Recommended.”

Darren Johnson, Darren's Music Blog



James Hall

James Hall is a freelance journalist and one of the Daily Telegraph’s music critics. He also writes food and lifestyle features for The Guardian, The Observer, the Sunday Times and the Financial Times. Before going freelance in 2013, he worked at the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph for a decade, latterly as consumer affairs editor.

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